Today 3D printing isn’t simply a trend, but the need for the hour. After years of experimentations and tests, the market is now flowing with different types of 3D printing machines and filaments. One such popular 3D printing option is the ASA filament.
What is an ASA filament?
Also known as Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate, the ASA filament is your go-to amorphous variant of thermoplastic terpolymer that shares several similarities to the ABS filament. The structural difference between these two is the fact that the ASA makes use of acrylic elastomer while the ABS makes use of butadiene elastomer.
ASA is popular as the engineering plastic given its property to maintain appearance & impact resistance. Even after the filament is exposed to prolonged periods of rain, air, cold, as well as salty seawater, it retains its make and looks for long.
This is the reason it can be used for the creation of several products that we use and see on a daily basis.
But, before we go into the uses and applications of the ASA filament, let us take a look into the advantages and disadvantages of using it.
ASA: Pros and Cons
- Highly resistant to the UV rays
- Resistant to impact or wear and tear
- The high temperature for glass transition
- Exceptional ventilation required to avoid the potentially toxic fumes
- Extruder temperature very high
- High price tag
Uses/Applications of ASA Filament
While the ASA filament is near-perfect in all sense, it has just ventured into the application market. With time, the ASA filament will surely see large scale applications. However, this doesn’t mean that the ASA filament isn’t just as popular now.
Its popularity can be known through its wide range of applications. Let us take a look at some of them in brief.
1-Automotive Exterior Parts:
As compared to other materials available in the market for the creation of automotive exterior parts, the ASA is relatively cheaper with a plethora of features. With regards to automotive applications, the ASA filament can be easily used for creating a prototype of parts such as bumper covers, housing for side view mirrors, dashboard holders, or grilles.
Printing with the ASA filament results in the production of sturdy yet lightweight parts. So, if you are in need of tools, ASA filament can be used for such 3D printing requirements. With this filament, you can print yourself ergonomic grips/handles, assembly jigs & fixtures, tool caddies, dunnage, and so much more.
Apart from the applications mentioned above, the ASA filament is something that can be used outdoors without any probable issue. Given its resistance to the Sun’s UV rays, it is optimally suited to be used for outdoor needs. If you are someone who wants to build their very own garden from scratch, you can build some cute and exclusively customized flower pots with the ASA filament.
Why just stop there?
You can also print some gnomes to take care of your garden with the ASA filament. Additionally, ASA filament can also be used to create signage. Other items you can print with the ASA filament include roof coverings, junction boxes for electrical installations, toys, pipes or construction profiles, and so many more!
ASA Filament Use: Recommendations
For 3D printing enthusiasts that generally use the ABS filament, the use of ASA will be just as easy. With ASA filament, you get access to a piece that is highly resistant to any damage caused by water and sun. For ones with no training or any experience in dealing with the ASA filament, here are some recommendations you can follow:
- Avoid Drafts:
Just like several other 3D printing materials, the ASA filament is highly sensitive to abrupt temperature changes during the 3D printing process. When printing with the ASA filament, it can be beneficial if you print with a device that has closed printer casing or room that is free of any drafts.
- Use the Kapton Tape:
In order to improve the adhesion of the object being printed with the device’s printing base, you need to use the BuildTak or Kapton Tape. You can also increase the adhesion further with the use of the DimaFix.
- Minimize the layer fan:
Once you have achieved the right adhesion, you can focus on printing quality to avoid issues such as overheating or cracking. In order to avoid these issues, it is highly recommended that you use your layer fan with the minimum setting on. Keep in mind that you should decrease the overall power by 10 to 25 percent, depending on the item being printing with the ASA filament.
This allows proper solidification of your print while avoiding the overheated areas. Low layer fan speed ensures that there is no abrupt temperature change that might cause cracking to your printed item.
- HIPS Support Material:
Given the fact that ASA filament works as a versatile filament, you might have to incorporate it with a sturdy support material such as HIPS. Talking about this support material, it is a D-Limonene used widely in conjunction with the ABS filament.
Given its similarities shared with ABS, it can be incorporated with the use of the simplest and highly-used method for post-processing which is acetone smoothing. In this process, you introduce the piece to a steam bath consisting of acetone. This brightens and softens the item’s surface layer.
You can also opt for machining of the part at low/medium speeds, which can later be glued & painted directly. There is no need for any previous primers.
ASA Filament Caution: Fumes
When printing with the ASA filament, you need to print in a room that comes with high-quality ventilation. The fumes emitted by the ASA filament can be potentially dangerous when inhaled. It emits a smelly & intense smoke that comes from Styrene present in this plastic compound. This fume can cause health issues such as headaches, irritation, and so much more.
When printing with the ASA filament, make sure you wear the right kind of mask to avoid breathing in the smoke. Further, make sure your exhaust comes with a filter or fan for the extraction of these fumes.
The ASA filament might be prone to water absorption. So, if you have plans to print with this filament, make sure you dry it properly before the same can be used for printing purposes. You can use your regular oven to dry out the filament. However, make sure that the oven temperature is set below the ASA filament’s glass transition temperature for perfect drying.
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