ASA vs ABS: Finding the right material

3D filaments

In the field of thermoplastics, ABS and ASA filaments have made quite the name when it comes to 3D printing. Both filaments are recognised for their flexibility, heat resistance, durability, and strength though they might not be the right choice for all printing projects.

You must understand how ASA vs ABS differ from one another to pick the right filament. We will delve deeper into ASA vs ABS breaking down their composition, and properties, along with their pros and cons so you can find the right material for your next printing project.

ASA filament

Definition and composition of ASA filament

Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate or ASA is a thermoplastic polymer widely utilised in applications for outdoor use, thanks to its high UV and dimensional stability and impact resistance. The filament is composed of three monomers, the source of its exceptional mechanical properties.

Acrylonitrile is the reason why ASA shows excellent weatherability and chemical resistance whereas styrene adds stiffness and ease of processing. The third monomer, acrylate, adds UV resistance and toughness making ASA the perfect material for printing objects capable of enduring prolonged exposure to sunlight and air.

Properties and characteristics of ASA filament

Density 1.07 [g/cm3]
Melting Temperature 250 to 260ºC
Flexural Strength 660 kg/cm2
Bed Temperature  90-110 °C
Tolerance +/- 0.05 mm
Extruder Temperature  220-245 °C
Durability High 
Flexibility Medium 
Strength  High 
Build Surface  Glass bed, PEI sheet, Kapton, or Blue tape for the build platform with 3Dlac spray

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Characteristics of ASA

  • Superior impact resistance
  • Maintains better structural integrity when exposed to sunlight.
  • Strong and durable.
  • Higher chemical and impact resistance.
  • UV resistance.
  • Lower risk of warping.
  • Perfect for printing outdoor applications.

Advantages of ASA filament

  1. Considering ASA vs ABS, the filament offers superior impact resistance to ABS.
  2. Its higher UV radiation resistance protects the material against degradation and discolouration in sunbeams.
  3. It creates fewer fumes and has a lower warping risk compared to ABS.
  4. Compared to ABS, it is more resilient to environmental conditions, water, and chemicals.
  5. ASA depicts better aesthetic quality and fewer noticeable layer lines between ASA vs ABS.
  6. ASA filament offers a wide range of printing capabilities and is compatible with the majority of FDM /FFF FDM 3D printers.
  7. ASA comes in vibrant colours adding to its aesthetic appeal.

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Common applications of ASA filament

ASA filament is highly used in producing functional prototypes because of its high UV resistance and strength. Such as:

  • Exterior signage
  • Electrical housing
  • Sports gears
  • Outdoor applications
  • RV applications
  • Automotive external parts

ASA material is often used to produce 3D printer parts as it can endure high heat while maintaining its structural integrity. ASA filaments are strong and durable and parts printed with this material can tolerate prolonged and continuous use.

  • Filament spool holders
  • Control knobs and buttons
  • Enclosures and covers
  • Cooling ducts and fan shrouds

Its UV stability, durability, and weather resistance are the reasons why people often opt for ASA for producing roofing components, outdoor lighting fixtures, and agricultural machinery parts.

ABS filament

Definition and composition of ABS filament

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene or ABS is an engineering-grade copolymer comprised of three monomers each responsible for different properties. The filament composition starts with polymerizing styrene and acrylonitrile where butadiene helps with the reaction.

Acrylonitrile provides ABS with chemical resistance, rigidity, and strength whereas styrene offers a shiny and smooth texture. The toughness of the filament comes from butadiene. ABS is a good choice if your project requires detailed work.

Properties and characteristics of ABS filament

UV Resistance Average 
Thermal Conductivity 0.17- 0.23 W/Mk
Impact Strength 200-215 J/M
Tensile Strength 2.96-43 Mpa
Elongation At Break 10-50%
Density 1.03-1.14 G/Ml
Flexural Strength 2400 Mpa
Specific Heat Capacity 1.60-2.13 Kj/(Kg·K)
Hardness Shore D 100

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Advantages of ABS filament

  • ABS filaments are reliable, strong, and durable with decent mechanical properties.
  • Acetone works excellently in removing interface lines between layers of printed objects.

Common applications of ABS filament

Due to its durability, strength, and post-processing ease, ABS materials are widely used for rapid prototyping. The filament is also a great option for producing consumer products such as kitchen appliances or toys thanks to its cheap price and impact resistance.

Because of the temperature resistance characteristics, ABS became a preferred material for printing exterior trim components and automotive interiors. It is also used in producing functional parts, enclosures, and sports gear. You can create decorative objects or tools with ABS too.

Key differences between ASA and ABS filaments

Material composition

The presence of styrene acrylate in ASA filament ensures higher UV resistance than ABS. Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene monomers give ABS superior impact resistance.

Strength and durability

ASA can maintain its mechanical properties for a prolonged time and has better weather resistance. ABS is tough and best suited for printing functional prototypes.

Surface finish and post-processing requirements

Objects printed with ASA tend to have a matte surface finish and post-processing is comparatively easy. ABS filaments usually have a smooth surface finish but post-processing can be a little harder, though the right technique such as acetone vapor can make the job easier.

Environmental considerations

ASA is more eco-friendly than ABS as it emits less noxious fumes compared to ABS. Both filaments are recyclable nevertheless the recycling process is more complicated for ABS.

Choosing between ASA and ABS

If you are not sure but need to make a pick between ASA and ABS, consider the following points before making a choice.

Factors to consider when selecting filament for 3D printing projects

  • Identify the exact properties required for your printing project and see what filament fills up those requirements.
  • Factor in the operating environment such as moisture, weather, chemical resistance, and sun exposure when choosing between ASA and ABS.
  • Consider your printer configurations and printing conditions such as print temperature whilst selecting. For example, ABS prints at a lower temperature than ASA.
  • In general, ASA produces prints that are smoother and less warped than ABS, so consider the desired surface finish and any post-processing requirements before making a choice.

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Frequently asked questions

Is ASA better than ABS?

If you want to print outdoor applications that have superior weathering properties and higher UV resistance then ASA is the better choice.

Does ASA smell as bad as ABS?

Compared to ABS, ASA produces a milder smell which is less toxic. So no, ASA smells not as bad as ABS.

Is ASA or ABS better for heat?

In terms of heat resistance, ASA performs better than ABS as it has superior thermal stability and higher glass transition temperature.

Is ASA better than ABS for outdoors?

Definitely. ASA offers higher UV resistance, which is why objects printed with the filament don’t get discoloured even if they are exposed to sunlight for an extended period. However the same cannot be said for ABS.

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