Thursday, July 11, 2013

ABS plastic swell and print quality differences

      Something has been bothering me for a while. At first I thought it was all in my head, then I ran a few tests. Basically, I've been noticing differences in the print quality and characteristics of different color plastics. When I first got my 3d printer, I stuck with mostly blue and green, with the occasional red ABS filaments. I print primarily 3mm ABS, with the occasional PLA print. I've tried at least 8 or 9 different colors, and from what i can tell, each color has a different "swell" factor while extruding. Green, Blue, and Natural have minimal swell, while White ABS has a horrible swell. I've taken the time to measure the input filament diameter (in most cases it's around 2.9xxx mm). 

      White is the worst offender. Shown below is a simple knob printed on my Makerbot T.O.M.. In each case, identical print parameters and speeds were used. As shown, the Natural color ABS plastic looks almost perfect, while the White ABS looks horribly overfilled. Because the input filament diameter was identical (2.92 mm) and the identical GCode file was used, the only logical conclusion that I can reach is that the White ABS must somehow be expanding more than the Natural color during printing. I'm wondering if the dye or pigment used is causing this somehow.

      Out of all filaments that I've used, the Natural ABS plastic has the best printing characteristics. Red and Green are a close second, Red's not bad, White is a monstrosity. Anyone else have issue such as this?

Identical prints?


  1. Hi, I think that your problem is caused by the materials used to pigment the original material, most polymers use aluminium based pigments, natural pigments, oil based pigments o purely synthetic pigments, each color have different properties due to that difference in pigments materials.
    Try Nylon, I have been using nylon that is commonly used in garden machines for grass cutting and it works super, I have dyed with different colors with even better results. I'll open a blog soon, but you can see my fb if you want.

  2. I've done a few prints in Nylon as well. The big problem I have with Nylon is Shrinkage that occurs during the printing process. I think I would need to have a heated enclosure to properly hold the temperature constant until the print was complete.

  3. If that’s the problem, you can try this high grade PLA filament. It’s less brittle than the standard PLA filaments in the market and has low warping, too. We tried it recently in our experiments and it yields good output. For smooth and glamorous finish, you can add acetone and some metallic air spray. BTW, it requires no heat bed. If you have a heat bed then set it to ±50-60˚C to keep warping to a minimum.