In this guide, we are going to break down all the important things you need to know to print with ASA filaments and how to avoid the issues usually faced with this filament. With these tips, you will learn everything there is to know about ASA filaments.
Acrylic Styrene Acrylonitrile, popularly known as ASA might not be one of the commonly used filaments for 3D printing. But when it comes to producing 3D prints designed for the outdoors, ASA filaments are an excellent choice.
Scientists developed this filament as a better version of ABS. So, ASA filaments have all the good qualities of ABS but don’t include the prominent challenges common with it. Thus, 3D prints produced with white ASA filaments stay white for way longer compared to ABS.
ASA filaments don’t easily lose their strength or deteriorate when left out in the sun. which is why they are used in making garden gnomes, planters, and more. If you are not familiar with ASA filaments then you have stumbled upon the right place.
Introduction to ASA Filaments
To 3D print like a pro, you need to have a good understanding of the filament you are about to use. For example, the ideal temperature, its properties, or the challenges you might face. And the following information will help better understand ASA filaments.
What are ASA Filaments?
ASA is very much like ABS. It is an engineering thermoplastic that shares the same molecular structure as ABS. But what makes ASA stand out is its excellent chemical and high-impact resistance, high durability, good mechanical strength, and high UV resistance. ASA filaments have a melting point of 105°C. And its dimensional stability is great too.
Composition and properties
ASA is the composition of three monomers (acrylonitrile, styrene, and acrylate) responsible for its characteristics. Acrylonitrile monomer is the reason why ASA filaments have high chemical and heat resistance. Styrene strengthens its stability and rigidity and acrylate improves its weather ability and impact strength.
What are the applications?
As you already know, the characteristics of ASA filaments include UV resistance, chemical and heat resistance, impact resistance, weather ability, and more. This is why ASA filaments are used in printing:
- Housing components
- Garden Equipment
- Sporting goods
- Automotive components
- Boat fittings
- Dashboard panels for boats
- In making the exteriors of yachts and boats
Pros and cons of ASA Filaments
- Suitable for 3D prints intended for outdoors since ASA has good UV resistance.
- ASA filaments are durable and tough and thus have great mechanical strength.
- ASA filaments have good heat and impact resistance.
- ASA offers good resistance against water and chemical.
- ASA filament is known for its good aesthetics and surface finish.
- You can dissolve it in acetone for smoothing or glueing.
- ASA filaments don’t have many colour options.
- Needs higher bed and extruder temperatures.
- Susceptible to warping and shrinking.
- Produces toxic fumes while printing.
- Little more expensive than ABS.
How to print with ASA Filaments
For better and high-quality 3D printing with ASA filaments, keep the temperature between 240-260°C. Also, maintain the bed temperature between 90-120 degrees. But this temperature can vary depending on the filament brand and the 3D printer you are using. So, you might need to do some adjustments to find the ideal temperature. You can start by increasing or decreasing the temperatures by 5 degrees.
3D printing at high or low temperatures has its problems though the former is far better. Printing with ASA filaments at a high temperature ensures good layer adhesion however it may create some overhangs and strings. On the contrary, if ASA filaments are not heated properly the chances of warping and splitting get higher. Cold ASA can also result in poor layer adhesion.
We suggest using an enclosed printer if you plan on printing larger models. Large prints mean more residual stress leading to warping or cracking. An enclosed printer maintains a consistent temperature reducing residual stress.
To successfully print quality 3D prints proper bed adhesion is a must. When the filament sticks to the bed tightly, it lowers the risk of the print coming off and warping. Now, with some filaments, you don’t have to use a heated bed. But for printing with ASA filaments, you need to have it.
Without a heated bed, ASA would split and warp more ruining the print. So, make sure the print bed is pre-heated properly. The ideal temperature may range from 90-120 degrees. This way you can ensure better bed adhesion which in turn reduces warping.
Here are some tips to achieve better bed adhesion:
- Use detergent or isopropyl alcohol to clean the print bed from debris or print residues.
- Check if the print bed is levelled correctly as it is important achieving an even first layer.
- Pre-heat the print bed.
- Use hairspray or 3D printing adhesives to avoid bed adhesion problems.
Using the right print surface can also improve bed adhesion while printing. The print surfaces that work best for ASA filaments include:
Glass bed is one of the best build platform options in terms of ASA filaments. A glass bed offers a solid foundation and minimizes warping issues. ASA filaments don’t perform well on uneven build platforms. Glass bed tends to be very flat which is quite essential for quality 3D prints. Another great thing about glass beds is that after printing when the platform is cooled down, you can easily remove the prints.
Similar to glass beds, removing prints from Kapton tape is also very easy. Kapton tapes can resist high heat which is perfect for ASA filaments. Also, it has a textured surface ideal for ASA filament adhesion.
It is another great option for improving ASA filament bed adhesion. It is one of the highly available and cost-efficient options you can go for.
The ideal printing speed for ASA filaments is above 50 mm/s. This speed can vary depending on the filament brand, printer type, and elaboration of the model. You can start printing around 30-50 mm/s and adjust the speed if needed.
For achieving better control of the extrusion, it is best to start with the mentioned speed. This keeps the layer adhesion of the filament consistent. Some printers can print with ASA at a higher speed whereas others cannot. Find out how your printer reacts to ASA filaments to discover the right speed for you.
Print environment and ventilation
Printing with ASA filaments sure has many perks but one crucial drawback of this material is the production of toxic fumes while printing. So, you need to be extra careful in choosing your printing area along with the ventilation system. Following are some tips on how the printing area should be and what can you do to reinforce your ventilation system:
- Consider buying an enclosed 3D printer to stop the harmful fumes from spreading.
- Get an enclosure if you cannot buy another printer since this too will help contain the toxic fumes.
- Avoid printing with ASA filaments in your living room area.
- If possible, use a specific area or room for printing.
- To print with ASA, choose a spacious area with a proper ventilation system.
- Set up fans while printing as it would improve air circulation.
- Keep the windows open when printing with ASA filaments.
Filament drying and storage
You need to keep your filaments nice and dry to get high-quality 3D prints. The same goes for ASA filaments too. Keep ASA filaments somewhere dry and cool where sunlight cannot enter directly. Heat and humidity degrade the quality of ASA filaments and you cannot expect good quality prints with it.
Put moisture-absorbing silica gel in your filament container. It protects the filament from moisture damage. if you are not going to use ASA anytime soon, put them in an airtight container. Resealable bags are good too for protecting the filament from moisture.
Even after doing all these things your filament can absorb some moisture. In that case, you need to get rid of the excess moisture. The best and easiest way to do that is to use a filament dry box or filament dryer. These dryers are designed to soak up the moisture from filaments making them nice and dry.
All you have to do is set the temperature suggested for the filament in the manual and wait. If you don’t have a filament dryer, use your oven to bake the filament. Baking ASA filaments or any other filament is tricky as you have to check the filament from time to time. Also, this might take hours to dry.
Common issues and troubleshooting tips
People frequently face some common issues when working with ASA filaments. But with our troubleshooting tips, you can successfully avoid these problems. The most common issues of ASA filaments are:
Warping is a common issue with ASA filaments. Later temperature differences, poor bed adhesion, and wrong nozzle temperature are some of the reasons why this issue arises. To avoid this from happening, use adhesive aids like hairspray or ABS juice. For maintaining a steady temperature, get an enclosure. You can also use brims or rafts to reduce warping.
Stringing and oozing
Printing at a higher speed when the nozzle temperature is too hot can result in stringing and oozing. To reduce this problem, readjust the printer’s retraction settings, and check if the build surface is appropriately heated. Adjust the nozzle temperature and print at a lower speed.
ASA filaments have a higher melting temperature which is why the nozzle gets clogged more often. Thus, you have to clean the nozzle regularly. This also prevents residue buildup.
Layer adhesion problems
Poor layer adhesion is the cause of weak print parts. It increases the chances of splitting or delamination. Poor cooling systems, high printing speed, and inadequate extrusion temperature also result in weak layer adhesion. Thus, lowering the print speed, improving the cooling system, and adjusting the extruder temperature help in promoting better layer adhesion of ASA filaments.
Poor surface finish
If the layer Height is more than normal or the printing temperature is wrong, it can lead to a poor surface finish. Wet or low-quality ASA filaments can also cause this issue. Check the temperature and make adjustments. Use high-quality ASA filaments and keep them in an airtight container. Use sanding or polishing methods for a better surface finish.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is ASA better than PLA?
PLA and ASA both filaments have their advantages and drawbacks. They have different properties and are used for different printing requirements. The better filament option highly depends on your printing needs. So, it isn’t possible to give a definite answer.
Is ASA filament stronger than PLA?
Yes, ASA filaments are known for their mechanical strength and durability. Moreover, compared to PLA in general, ASA filaments have better impact and heat resistance. But keep in mind that filament strength also depends on the formula and filament brand.
Is ASA better than ABS?
Both filaments share several common properties but ASA was developed to be a better version of ABS. ASA filaments have better weather and UV resistance but are slightly difficult to print with.
Is ASA better than PETG?
ASA and PETG have different properties ideal for different printing requirements. ASA filament is highly used to print outdoor applications because of its better UV resistance whereas PETG is more used in the manufacturing and packaging industry. So, pick the filament that matches your printing needs.
ASA filaments come with several amazing characteristics. ASA is great for printing outdoor applications. It’s strong and lasts longer compared to other filaments. ASA filament does have some problems but with proper care and our tips, you can always get strong, long-lasting, magnificent, and high-quality 3D prints.