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ABS Pro Filament – What Is It?

Aug 4, 2019 by Melanie Griffin

ABS filament is known for its high tensile strength, but it's prone to certain annoying issues like warping and shrinkage. Discover the solution: ABS pro.


ABS Pro Filament What Is It?

ABS pro is an improved variant of the popular filament.
ABS Pro is an improved variant of the popular filament. Source: MatterHackers

ABS, or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, is one of the most common filaments used in 3D printing. Its high heat resistance and strength make it a popular filament for prototypes and other objects that require durability. Furthermore, its ease of use relative to other strong materials, such as polycarbonate, makes it a great place to start for many 3D printing enthusiasts.

But what does it mean when “pro” is added to its name?

3D printing filament manufacturers have started using this designation to indicate top-performing ABS. There are no official measurements or standards through which ABS becomes designated pro, but cmopanies are using that label to advertise filaments that take the good qualities of ABS to new levels.

ABS Pro Filament Advantages

ABS pro can withstand high temperatures.
ABS pro can withstand high temperatures. Source: Filament23D

ABS pro filament has several characteristics that make it an improvement over original ABS. Here are the details on how ABS pro lives up to its name:

  • Tensile strength: ABS is known to warp during printing, which is a major problem when you’re trying to design around tight tolerances. ABS pro filaments fix that by upping their tensile strength, which is the resistance of a material to breaking under tension. The greater the tensile strength, the more likely the model will be to retain the exact dimensions of your original design, no compensation required.
  • Elongation: Related to tensile strength is increased elongation. In manufacturing, that’s the amount of give a material has before it breaks. The extended elongation of ABS pro means more pressure is absorbed into the material without changing its shape. The material molecules, rather than the object’s geometries, absorb the tension. And the fact that ABS pro scores high on the elongation scale keeps its tensile strength up.
  • Impact resistance: ABS pro models can absorb more shock without compromising structural integrity. As the material is good at diffusing that tension, it’s not concentrated in one particular area. That makes it less prone to cracking, shattering, or otherwise breaking when hit with a sudden wave of pressure.
  • Print quality: ABS pro filaments also create thin layer heights, even down to 0.02 mm. This gives you a transition between layers that’s almost invisible to the naked eye, and it also gives you more room to print details that are too fine for regular ABS to render noticeably.
  • Heat resistance: Since ABS pro has a higher printing temperature, the ability of the final model to withstand high temperatures is also higher than that of regular ABS.

Note that, the above are simply characteristics that have been observed in products marketed as ABS pro. Because there are no official requirements for an ABS filament to be “pro”, not all of the above might be present in a particular product.

ABS Pro Filament Disadvantages

Warping can be a major issue with all ABS filaments.
Warping can be a major issue with all ABS filaments. Source: rigid.ink

For all the upsides of ABS pro filament, it’s not a cure-all for your 3D printing woes. Its enhanced characteristics come with a few compromises that affect the printing process and final object:

  • Layer adhesion: Although they give you fine layers and sharp details, ABS pro filaments rate low on self-adhesion. That means layers don’t stick to each other very well, which can make for a disastrously sloppy print, even if every other aspect is perfect. Keep a close eye on any prints you do with ABS pro so that you can spot this issue early and adjust for it.
  • Print bed temperature: ABS pro’s low rate of stickiness means it doesn’t stay on the print bed very well, either. To counteract this, it’s necessary to use a print bed heated to relatively high temperatures, and that can be dangerous if you’re not accustomed to working with it. That said, it is necessary to make sure your filament keeps its base in place.
  • Non-biodegradability: Along with the printing issues above, ABS pro filaments have not improved upon ABS’ inability to be naturally broken down. If you’re just starting out with ABS pro, that can mean plastic waste from your mistakes and practice prints will stick around indefinitely. The good news is that ABS pro is recyclable, so while you can’t use old prints or failed prints for composting, you can get them melted down and re-spooled into more usable filament.

ABS Pro Filament Great Projects to Make

ABS pro is perfect for parts that need to move against each other.
ABS pro is perfect for parts that need to move against each other. Source: MatterHackers / Twitter

Taking all these factors into account, ABS pro is the perfect filament for projects that require high strength and fine details:

  • Tough parts: If you’re looking for a way to 3D print object parts that need to endure constant movement against each other, or if your finished object is supposed to weather outside forces like a champ, use ABS pro. It will give you the tensile strength and fine finish you’ll need to keep all your parts running smoothly.
  • Prototypes: Since ABS is also commonly used in injection molding, using it in 3D printing gives you a good idea of what your final object will look like before you go through the extensive molding process. ABS pro is ideal for this type of prototyping because it resists shrinkage and warping better than its “non-pro” sibling, so your prototype will look much more true to form.
  • Temperature-resistant parts: Want to 3D print your own kitchen utensils, or a phone holder for your car that will sit in the sun all day, or anything else that will regularly come into contact with high temperatures? ABS pro is for you. Its high heat tolerance may make it difficult to print with, but that same trait means your models will keep their form without melting.

ABS Pro Filament Where to Find It

If you don't want to buy a whole spool of ABS pro, MatterHackers has a sample pack.
If you don't want to buy a whole spool of ABS pro, MatterHackers has a sample pack. Source: MatterHackers

Just as a reminder, “pro” is not an official designation for ABS filaments, so there’s no standard performance measurements you can rely on when you see that label. Still, many manufacturers are taking the general concept of enhanced ABS and marketing them as ABS pro. Check each sales listing for specifics on layer height, tensile strength, and temperature needs. Here are a few of our top picks, in case you’re in a hurry:

  • MatterHackers Pro Series ABS: These guys are giants in the 3D printing world for a reason. Their filaments are excellent across the board, and their ABS pro offerings come in a dozen and a half colors while boasting a 0.02-mm tolerance. We love that you can also buy a sample pack if you’re not sure you want to commit to a whole spool.
  • Formfutura ABSpro: This filament is specifically designed to 3D print large objects, which is always a challenge with ABS. Formfutura has figured out how to keep the warping low and the quality high when you use it for your large 3D prints.
  • Mitus ABS Pro: In addition to the standard advantages of ABS pro filaments, Mitus has made theirs anti-microbial. That makes it great for 3D printing objects that need to stay clean, such as kitchen utensils and toys for young children who are at that age where everything goes in their mouth. 3D printed objects can be tricky to truly disinfect because of the microscopic spaces between layers, but Mitus has you covered.

ABS pro filament is a great step up from standard ABS. Its enhancements go a long way towards fixing common issues like warping, shrinkage, and brittleness. If you’re in the market for a 3D printing filament that keeps your objects strong and impact-resistant, check out ABS pro!

Feature image source: Markforged

License: The text of "ABS Pro Filament – What Is It?" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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