For most 3D printing enthusiasts, the introduction of ASA filament in the market is relatively new. While it might not be as common as other filament types, it serves as an excellent 3D printing filament for items that are to be kept outdoors, such as a garden gnome, planter, or any outdoor fixture. The ASA filament is relatively similar to the ABS filament with similar print output.
However, there is one thing about ASA that makes it rank over ABS is the fact that the former can stand longer under the sun without yellowing, deteriorating, or losing strength. If you have never ever printed with the ASA or ABS filament, here is a guide to help you out.
What is ASA Filament?
ASA filament functions as an amorphous variant of thermoplastic polymer that stands for Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate. It is generally used as the substitute filament for ABS. The ASA filament has so many advantages in terms of application that it is being used by the top manufacturers of the automotive industry. The most prominent feature of ASA is the fact that it doesn’t yellow easily.
Why & when should you use the ASA filament?
Before we start comparing the features of ASA and ABS, we need to understand what makes it stand out in the crowd. Here are some of the use cases for the ASA filament.
It’s mechanically robust feature makes it perfect in terms of applications that require high resistance
It is resistant to the U.V. rays which explain its non-yellowing property
ASA filament also finds application in the underwater usage or the pump junctions given the fact that it is highly water-resistant
It can also generate a good finish for different parts without any kind of deformation
It also provides superb dimensional stability with no warping and high tolerance
The ASA filament also works well as an element that is resistant to chemicals treatments
It also flaunts a higher thermal resistance as compared to ABS
Its matte finish towards the surface of the 3D print is something similar to ABS.
ABS vs. ASA filament: Pros and Cons Compared
In general, most of the properties flaunted by ASA are similar to that of ABS. However, the features such as U.V. resistance is exclusively flaunted by ASA filament.
So, what makes these two filaments different from each other? Well, let’s talk about the finishing of the 3D prints with both. Here warping is the issue that makes the two different. If you are unaware of what warping defines, let us explain it to you.
What is warping?
The warping or curling issue occurs when the 3D printed item doesn’t cool down in an even manner. As we all know, cooling leads to contraction & this particular process causes stress on the lateral surfaces of the object. The quicker your 3D printed item cools down, the higher the stress over its lateral surfaces. This stress is maximum towards the corner where two of the sides from your 3D print meet. This hence leads to deformation or a pull-up shape. The eventual result might seem displeasing to you.
Unless you use a closed printer, this could be a major issue with the ABS filament prints.
Apart from this, there is one more issue that dims down the quality of ABS filament. It is a phenomenon similar to warping, known as cracking. This issue occurs towards the upper section of the print. You need to keep in mind that both cracking and warping can affect the quality of your 3D print. It isn’t just about the aesthetics; the warped or cracked pieces have mechanical features that are comparatively inferior to that of perfectly welded layers.
So, to sum it up,
ABS and ASA filament both have similar properties in terms of mechanics
ASA is resistant to UV while ABS isn’t
ASA has better temperature resistant as compared to ABS (ABS- 81ºC vs. ASA- 95ºC)
Both these filaments produce items with matte finishing
ASA Technical Properties
Density: 1.07 [g/cm3]
Elongation at Break: 35 percent
Tolerance: +/- 0.05 mm
Flexural Strength: 660 kg/cm2
Max. Printing Temperature: 80 to 90 mm/s
Melting Temperature: 250 to 260ºC
Solubility: dichloro-ethylene, methylacetone, &cyclohexanone
Pros of Using ASA Filament:
It is a great alternative to ABS as it doesn’t show the same degradation during cooling, as is seen with ABS.
It flaunts a combination of UV resistance with mechanical strength making it perfect for use in the outdoors.
ASA filament portrays a higher degree of resistance to prolonged sunlight exposure.
It also comes with exceptional resistance to chemical or harsh weather with higher durability as compared to ABS.
Cons of Using ASA Filament:
One downside to using ASA filament is the fact that it tends to release fumes that might be potentially toxic during printing. It is critical for printing enthusiasts to opt for the use of high-quality masks during the process and get the printing in a room that is well ventilated.
It tends to be a bit expensive as compared to other filaments available in the market. Plus, its low market availability further increases its pricing factor.
Its high melting temperature is surely a boon for 3D printing enthusiasts. However, it also requires to have a higher temperature for the extruder to facilitate proper printing. This leads to more energy utilization and hence higher bills.
Tips to get the best prints with ASA filament
Get the first layer correct:
Even though ASA filament has minimal warping as compared to ABS, it isn’t completely free of this issue. In order to ensure there are zero warping problems, make sure you have calibrated the printer properly to get the base layer right. You need to level your print bed correctly. Plus, you need to assure that the distance starting from your printer’s hot-end to its bed is leveled.
Print with high-adhesion hotbed:
If your printer lacks a high-quality hotbed, the idea of printing with the ASA filament is eons away for you. This is due to the fact that ASA requires high temperatures to refrain from cracking as a result of thermal deformation. You have to keep the hotbed within a temperature range of 80 to 100 ºC. Plus, you should also work on improving the adhesion by using some kind of stick glue or lacquer for 3D printing needs.
Calibrate the Temperature Properly:
ASA has its melting temperature that ranges between 250 to 260ºC. This is why the printer hot end should be adjusted to keep within this temperature.
ASA is slowly gaining popularity among its users, given its range of benefits over the alternative ABS filament. So, if you are planning to create some exterior signage, garden equipment, sporting goods, housing components, or exterior parts for automotive needs, picking the ASA filament could be just right for you. However, keep in mind that printing with ASA requires a high-quality 3D printer that can maintain such high temperatures.
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