ABS is the most common FDM desktop printing material. It is thermoplastics, meaning it enters a soft and moldable state when heated and then returns to a solid when cooled. Via the FDM process, it is melted and then extruded through a nozzle to build up the layers that create a final part.
ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) is a common thermoplastic well known in the injection molding industry. It is used for applications such as LEGO, electronic housings and automotive bumper parts.
Generally the tolerances and accuracy of FDM printed components are largely dependent upon printer calibration and model complexity. However, ABS and PLA can be used to create dimensionally accurate parts, printing details down to 0.8mm and minimum features down to 1.2mm. For connecting or interlocking parts, a tolerance of 0.5mm is recommended and using a minimum wall thickness of 1 – 2 mm will ensure adequate strength in wall elements.
With similar tensile strengths, ABS and PLA are both adequate for many prototyping applications. ABS is often preferred due to its improved ductility over PLA. With a higher flexural strength and better elongation before breaking, 3D printed ABS can be employed for end use applications whereas PLA remains popular for rapid prototyping when form is more critical than function.