Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene. No, I haven’t turned into a famous boy wizard and cast a spell, but that’s actually what ABS means.
Luckily, in the world of the 3D printer, ABS is all you need to use as a name for a popular type of filament.
Certainly, the most popular and commonly used filament in FDM 3D printing is PLA or Polylactic Acid. The reason behind its popularity is the ease of use, lower working temperatures, and economical price.
However, running a close second on the list of easy-to-use filaments is our friend ABS.
The majority of FDM 3D printers will have the capability to easily print with either PLA or ABS, but it’s the ones that perform better with the latter that we’re focussing on.
ABS as a filament for 3D printing benefits from being more rigid as well as having better heat and impact resistance.
This therefore makes it a bit more of a challenge to work with for the beginner in the world of 3D printing, who may find getting the best results difficult.
These properties make it ideal for applications in most industries and are typically found in home appliances, medical devices, pipe and plumbing systems, musical instruments and even toys.
In fact, a famous Danish toy building brick is made using ABS.
In 3D printing terms, you can use ABS filament to print some of the items which have been mentioned, but also other models and parts for electrical housings or even for your printer itself.
As ABS has a different working temperature than PLA, you’ll need to have a printer that can cope with this and also provide variations in speed and bad adhesion etc.
The printers we’re going to be looking at will therefore have shown they have the credentials to work with ABS and are a good choice based on their key features, pros, cons, and price.
So, let’s have a look at some of the best printers for ABS filament currently on the market.
5 Best 3D Printers For ABS Filament
Each of the printers on our list has its own merits and although a lot of the key features are very similar, there are differences which you need to consider.
There are many 3D printers on the market that can print well using ABS filament, but as we’ve discussed, these are in the mid-price range, so adequately suitable for the average 3D printing enthusiast.
Flashforge Adventurer 3
Flashforge is a name we’ve seen before and they have a great range of value and high-end 3D printers.
The main focus of Flashforge FDM printers is their fully enclosed design, which is ideal for printing with ABS filament.
Being fully enclosed does mean that the build volume is smaller than average, but we’ll discuss the pros and cons of this as you read further.
The Adventurer range of printers falls into the mid-price range, but still has a lot of the features you might expect from a more expensive model.
The thing to note about this printer is that, although it works with ABS filament, the maximum nozzle and bed temperatures may limit the range of brands you can use. This is explained further on under the “Printing Temperature” heading below.
- Fully enclosed: This is great for maintaining a consistent heat and avoiding any external temperature factors to affect the print quality.
- Removable flexible build plate: Makes removing the printed model from the build plate much easier.
- 150 x 150 x 150 mm build volume: Not the biggest, but still a decent size to produce medium-sized prints.
- Filament sensor: This is a useful little addition that senses when the filament has run out and will then pause the print. This is great if you leave the printer unattended.
- Touch screen: The UI is fairly straightforward, but the addition of touchscreen controls over dials is an advantage.
- Cloud printing: This means that you can send prints to your machine over Wi-Fi, which eliminates the need for SD cards etc.
- Low noise output: Flashforge state that the noise output is no louder than 45 dB, so pretty quiet.
- 30-100 mm/s print speed
- 240 °C max nozzle and 100 °C max bed temp
Pros and Cons
- Fully enclosed
- Wi-Fi printing
- Suitable for ABS printing
- Smaller build volume
- Basic UI
- Bed temp may limit use of some ABS filaments
Tiertime UP Mini 2 ES
Tiertime may not be as familiar to you as some others in our list, but this little printer is certainly up there with the rest.
This one is our highest-priced model at around $700, but has some nice features that you won’t find on similar printers in the cheaper range.
The UP Mini 3 ES is a fully enclosed printer which again somewhat reduces the build volume, this time by quite a bit more than the Flashforge.
The maximum nozzle temperature compared to that of the bed seem a bit mismatched as well and would at first glance appear to be unsuitable for ABS.
However, given the fully enclosed nature of the printer and its small build volume, the bed temperature can be lower than you’d expect to be using for ABS.
- Fully enclosed: As we’ve discussed, this is advantageous for smaller prints and end quality.
- Touch screen: Another basic UI but good that it’s touch screen.
- Enhanced connectivity: The printer offers a wide range of connectivity options, making the sending of prints to the machine more versatile.
- HEPA carbon filtration: This isn’t a necessity for FDM printers, but the use of ABS can cause particles to enter the air, which may be harmful for anyone with asthma or breathing difficulties. The filtration therefore eliminates these particles, making problems with irritation less likely.
- 120 × 120 × 120 mm build volume: Very much on the small side, but still serviceable enough if you only want smaller prints.
- 200 mm/s print speed
- 299 °C max nozzle and 70 °C max bed temp
Pros and Cons
- High print speed
- Air filtration system
- Fully enclosed
- Small build volume
- Higher price
Voxelab Aquila X2
The Voxelab Aquila X2 is the first on our list to be an open frame or gantry design.
The company itself has a reputation for producing low cost printers such as this that still performs well and have the capability to work with multiple filament types.
The Aquila X2 certainly has that capability in terms of temperatures and print speeds, but has the added advantage of a decent sized build volume.
This is a fundamental characteristic of an open frame printer, as you don’t have to include the enclosure etc. to make it still home-user-friendly.
When printing a bigger object with ABS, this kind of design could cause issues with bed adhesion and warping, as we’ll see later on.
- Filament run-out sensor: Great if you leave your printer unattended and haven’t realized the filament is running low!
- 220 x 220 x 250 mm build volume: A good size and definitely in keeping with this style of 3D printer.
- Open frame design: Cuts down on build costs and, as we’ve seen, increases build volume.
- Resume print: Another handy feature for those of us that leave our printers to work alone. This will resume printing from the same point if there’s a power outage or similar occurrence.
- Filament auto feed: This is a nice little feature that automatically feed new filament through, so you don’t have to load it manually.
- Colour LCD screen: Basic but functional and easy to use.
- 180 mm/s max print speed, but optimum is 50-80 mm/s
- 250 °C max nozzle and 110 °C max bed temp
Pros and Cons
- Large build volume
- Low price
- Open frame, so may need an enclosure for ABS printing
- No auto bed levelling, but this can be upgraded
$169.00 – $249.00
Creality Ender 3 V2 Neo
Creality’s Ender range of printers is probably the best known FDM printer among hobbyists, and certainly one of the best-selling.
The Ender 3 is a great choice for the beginner as it is not only easy to use but comes mostly in kit form.
This might not sound like a bonus, but in my opinion, it gives the user the opportunity to get to know how the printer works right from the start.
The Ender 3 has gone through many incarnations over the years since it first appeared, and the currently there are currently six different variations available.
These are the Ender 3, Pro, V2, V2 Neo, S1 and the S1 Pro.
There are also “Plus” and “Max” versions of a few in the range, which offer a bigger build volume but have the same functionality.
For the purpose of this, though, we’ll look at the V2 Neo, which is mid-range in terms of price and performance but still works well with ABS filament.
- Open frame design: Increases build volume, but may require the use of an enclosure for ABS printing.
- Flexible build plate: Easier to remove models.
- Colour LCD display: Uses a dial rather than touch screen, but is clear and easy to use.
- CR Touch auto bed levelling: Creality proprietary version of the BL touch, but works in exactly the same way.
- Resume print: Will pause and resume if there’s a power outage or drop in Wi-Fi connectivity during “cloud” printing.
- Quiet printing: The 32-bit mainboard has silent drivers, so actual printing has very low noise output.
- 220 x 220 x 250 mm build volume: The same as the Aquila and the average for a printer of this type.
- 260 °C nozzle temp and 100 °C bed temp max
- 120 mm/s max print speed
Pros and Cons
- Easy to use even for beginners
- Auto bed levelling
- Large build volume
- Open frame so may need an enclosure
FlashForge Creator Pro
We’ve moved back to our old friends Flashforge for the last but certainly not the least printer on our list.
The Creator Pro is another fully enclosed 3D printer, but this time the build volume is surprisingly a bit bigger than we’d expect from this kind of design.
This allows for the printing of larger models but also maintain the enclosed factor that can help ABS greatly in terms of print quality.
The price of this printer moves it into the slightly above mid-range but aside from the usual features included with these printers, you have the added bonus of a direct drive dual extruder.
This is great, as not only does it give you the added quality gained from using a direct drive, but it also allows you to print with two filaments at once.
This gives you the ability to print dual-colored models and, if the settings are right, print with two different filament types.
- Fully enclosed: As we’ve discussed, this has pros and cons in terms of print quality and build volume.
- 150 x 227 x 148 mm build volume: Surprisingly a bit closer in size to an open frame printer.
- Direct drive dual extruder: The direct drive aspect improves print quality and cuts down on problems with extruder clogging and blockages. The dual extruder is a great feature as it allows for different colored filaments to be printed in the same model. This negates the need to swap filament mid-print and makes for more interesting and creative model designs.
- LCD screen: Simple but effective.
- 240 °C max nozzle and 120 °C max bed temp
- 30-100 mm/s print speed
Pros and Cons
- Fully enclosed
- Slightly bigger build volume for this design of printer
- Dual direct drive extruder
- Some limitations on build volume
- Higher price range
How To Choose ABS Supported 3D Printers
So, we’ve looked at some of the best printers suitable for working with ABS filament, but how do you now go about deciding which one is best for you?
There are a few factors that you need to look out for aside from the key features we’ve already discussed.
These aspects of the printer will affect the performance of the ABS and the results you get from your prints.
There are also some things you need to avoid, and we’ll take a brief look at those as well.
All filament types will have different working temperatures, and ABS is no exception.
Most filament manufacturers will advise of the best temperatures to work with and these will be clearly displayed, usually on the spool itself.
ABS works best at a temperature range between 220 °C and 250 °C, so unless the manufacturer specifies an exact temperature, you can work somewhere within the middle of that range.
Be careful to check the filament first though before you buy, as some ABS filaments do have a higher specified temperature in the 250 °C+ range.
Of course, this temperature relates specifically to the extruder hotend, so the print bed temperature also needs to be considered.
Again, the manufacturer will usually advise on this, but ABS works best in the higher range of bed temperatures at 90 °C to 110 °C.
The printbed temperature will also depend on the type of bed you’re using.
For instance, a tempered glass bed may need a temperature of around 110 °C, whereas a flexible metal bed may work better in the 90 °C to 100 °C range.
As you’ll likely already know, the bed temperature will also play a part in ensuring good adhesion, which will in turn work to prevent warping.
There are other factors that can also affect the bed temperature from an external point of view, and we’ll look at that shortly.
It’s worth noting that many 3D printers will have a default setting to preheat for either PLA or ABS, or both.
This is usually there, so you can load the filament and perform a correct bed levelling process, but it’s a handy guide to what temperature you should be going for.
The build volume of the printer that you want to buy will all depend on what you want or need to print.
If you’re looking to print bigger objects then, within the parameters of the economy, you’ll probably be looking at a gantry frame printer such as the Creality Ender 3 range.
If it’s only smaller prints that you intend to make, then the Flashforge type of printer may be for you.
These are fully enclosed printers, which is generally why the build volume is smaller.
The print size however can be a factor when considering whether you need an enclosed printer.
For instance, smaller objects printed in ABS won’t be affected by external or ambient temperatures. But a larger print will be.
This seems incongruous with the fact that the larger printers aren’t enclosed, but the smaller ones are.
Of course, it comes down to cost. A fully enclosed printer with the build volume of the Ender 3 would see the price soar into the thousands.
All is not lost though as you can either purchase a purpose-built enclosure for a fairly reasonable cost or even make one yourself.
I’ve personally made three different types of enclosures for my 3D printers so far; one uses IKEA Lack tables, which is a very popular method. The other was incorporated into some metal garage shelving, and even one made from an old filing cabinet.
They all serve their purpose well and can be a fun and fairly cheap weekend project.
Print quality should always be the main focus when considering any 3D printer. It is quite difficult to determine this for yourself until you actually start producing prints.
Quality will come down to how you configure the printer in terms of layer height, print speed and so on.
You should be looking for a printer that allows for precise adjustments of these parameters.
I’d recommend you visit some Facebook or Reddit groups before you make the final decision.
Bed leveling is something that is present on all FDM 3D printers and is an essential factor needed to ensure quality and stable prints.
Auto bed levelling is now commonplace on a lot of mid-range printers and is definitely something you should be looking out for.
Manual bed levelling is easy enough to get right if you know what you’re doing, but is still tedious if you have to do it regularly.
A BL-Touch sensor is the most commonly used auto bed leveler, but Creality has its own version in the form of the CR-Touch.
All the printers we’ve looked at that have auto levelling, of good quality and genuine. There are also a lot of third party “clones” out there, some of which are of inferior quality, so beware.
This should only really affect you though if you decide to add a touch sensor after the purchase of your printer.
The inevitable question of cost will always play a part in your choice of printer.
The ones we’ve covered are in the mid-price range, so the choice will come down to what you need to get from your 3D printer.
My advice would always be to go for the best that you can afford, but not always the most expensive.
Most manufacturers now are aware that the market in 3D printing is extremely competitive, so are now pricing good quality printers in the lower to mid-price range.
This means that some shortcuts need to be made in terms of selling them part built or upgradable.
But that’s not necessarily a bad thing if you know your way around a 3D printer and how it works.
So, there you have our list of the 5 best 3D printers for ABS filament.
We’ve looked at the key features in terms of build volume, print speed, working temperatures, and other features unique to a particular printer or brand.
You’ve seen that there are 2 main designs of FDM 3D printers in our guide, and we’ve looked at the pros and cons of each of these.
This list is of course by no means exhaustive of the many 3D printers you can buy that can print with ABS, but they in my opinion some best.
But which one is the best of the best, I hear you ask?
Well, in making that decision, it was a case of weighing up the included features of the printer that made it most suitable for ABS printing.
The most important of those were the working temperatures, the build volume and the resistance to external ambient temperatures.
This then narrowed the field down to the fully enclosed printers and given the bigger build volume and the direct dual drive extruder, I would have to recommend the Flashforge Creator Pro.
I would suggest reading more on the subject of this printer by looking at our aforementioned article on direct drive printers and also searching online for the best deal you can find.
To help you on your way, the retail price direct from the manufacturer is currently $339 and that seems to be the best price around at present, so definitely worth stating your search there.
In the meantime, enjoy the search, and you’ll hopefully agree with the recommendation.