Despite so many filaments available for 3d printing, ASA filament has its place due to its unique features, strength, and application-based printing. ASA filaments are available in different types as well and vary according to their basic properties.
The filament is an upgraded version of Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene or ABS and a better alternative to it. In this article, I will talk about ASA filament’s usage, benefits, limitations, and printing tips that will surely benefit your 3d printing skills.
What Is ASA Filament
The full form of ASA is Acrylic Styrene Acrylonitrile or Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate, and it is a thermoplastic and acrylic elastomer. It is superior to ABS for many reasons- strength, printability, and elasticity.
All these properties make it suitable for printing outdoor and industrial applications as well as prototyping. It has better resistance to an extreme climate like rain, heat, moisture, or cold, thus increasing the durability of objects.
History Of ASA Filament
The origin of ASA filament is way back to the 1960s. Earlier, James A. Herbig and Ival O. Salyer of Monsanto had tried to create this thermoplastic but could not achieve the exact result because they had used butyl acrylate during the rubber phase.
Later, Hans-Werner Otto and Hans Peter Siebel of BASF used the same information and created ASA filament by combining a copolymer of butyl acrylate with butadiene. Thus, we get the acrylic elastomer thermoplastic.
Properties Of ASA Filament
Here are the main properties of ASA filament that make it ideal for 3d printing some of the commonly used applications.
Higher Resistance Power
ASA filament has better resistance power against impact and damage. This filament’s mechanical property is far better than ABS and is crucial for making outdoor applications.
Ultra-Violet Ray Tolerance
Yes, this filament can endure harsh climatic conditions, and still, the object will remain in shape without fading colours. It can absorb UV rays and tolerate heat and high impact resistance for longer durations.
Less Prone To Warping
ASA filament is less prone to warping during the printing process as compared to ABS filament. Thus, it is easier to print.
It is easier to post-process ASA printed parts than rest filaments. You can use acetone solvent for making smooth surfaces. So, you can sand, acrylic paint, drill, and cut these parts with less burden.
Advantages Of ASA Filament
Given the properties of ASA filament, now it is easier to understand its advantages. Some of the foremost pros are-
- It is highly durable and can withstand harsh climatic conditions and higher temperatures without breaking and damaging for longer periods.
- It has higher UV resistance and heat resistant capabilities with lesser wear and tear.
- It can resist moisture, weak acids and alkalis, and chemical reactions.
- Easier to post-process by using acetone solvent.
- The printed parts are more symmetrical and have a better finishing surface.
- It has a high glass transition temperature.
Disadvantages Of ASA Filament
None of the filaments is perfect, so neither is the ASA filament! It has certain limitations as well, which should be kept in mind while processing it.
- It releases a very smelly odour during the printing and emits potentially dangerous fumes that can harm our bodies. Thus, you must have ventilation apparatus, and open are for releasing the gas.
- It requires higher extruder temperatures while printing. Thus, impacting the electric voltage and consumption as well. The higher temperatures might also damage the printed parts (warping) if not regulated carefully.
- Given its superior properties, it is more expensive than the rest filaments. Thus, the cost charges are higher.
- Failure to set the filament layers correctly will damage prints due to internal stress and layer separation.
Due to better mechanical properties and higher chemical and UV resistance, ASA filament is popularly used in different sectors for various applications such as-
They are highly used for making outdoor applications that are constantly exposed to sun, harsh climates and different weather conditions. Some are electrical housings, garden and lawn equipment, grilles, pet sheets, outdoor parts and fixtures.
ASA is also ruling in the automotive sector as well. Due to its flexibility, strength, and durability, many exterior components are made from ASA filament.
Due to its chemical properties and resistance, it is also used to make electrical applications.
It is also used for making functional prototype components, end-use parts, and models.
Basic Tips For ASA Filament Processing
Though, we will recommend you to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions while 3d printing ASA filament. But here are some quick steps that you can keep in mind before starting the process-
3d Printer With Enclosures
It is better to use 3d printer with enclosures because it will save you from toxic and harmful fumes during extrusion. Moreover, it will keep the bed temperature constant and result in better prints. It will also save layers of the printed parts from cracking due to improper temperature.
It is very important to ensure that the first layer has proper adhesion. The print bed should be properly heated (95-110 °C) so that the first layer get stick to it. Otherwise, you will get brittle and deformed parts.
Levelling Of Print Bed
Though 3d printers have automatic bed levelling systems, you need to recheck the bed position to avoid errors during 3d printing. It must be at a proper level during the extrusion process. A good build surface is important for the better quality of ASA prints.
The extrusion temperature for ASA filament is between 230-260 °C, but we suggest you follow the manufacturer’s guide and instructions. Do not forget to change nozzles when you start printing another material.
Do the initial printing slowly at a higher temperature in a heated chamber for better layer adhesion. You can use advanced slicer settings for it. Also, it’s better to switch on the fan to reduce heat. It will result in better prints.
Why You Should Use ASA Instead Of ABS
Well, for this question, there is one simple answer- ASA has better properties than ABS. Though ABS is also a durable material, it is less superior than ASA in mechanical and chemical properties.
ABS cannot resist UV rays for a longer period and loses its shape, colour, and is prone to damage easily. ABS is less shock-resistant material than ASA.
Moreover, ABS materials will turn yellow in the open environment if left unregulated. You can overcome these constraints from ASA filament easily. It is easier to post-process ASA parts than ABS prints too. So, for outdoor application purposes, you should go for ASA instead of ABS filament.
Things To Consider While Printing With ASA Filament
Apart from basic printing tips, here are a few things that you should consider too-
Switching To Different Printing Temperatures
We suggest you not switch to random extrusion temperatures frequently because ASA filament can tamper and deform during printing. Always 3d print this filament in an enclosed 3d printer at a given printing temperature range by the manufacturers.
Use External Sources For Better Adhesion
Do not forget to use adhesion tools or adhesive for maintaining constant heat temperature throughout the process. You can use brim and rafts from the slicer settings for this purpose. You can use Kapton tape or ABS slurry too for increasing the heat.
Use layer fan at minimum speed to avoid cracking due to overheating. It will help to solidify the printed parts and cool down overheated portions.
Use Of HIPS Filament As Support Material
ASA has better properties, but you can add High Impact Polystyrene or HIPS thermoplastic as the support material for best results. It has similar properties to ABS and does not require primers during post-processing.
Top 5 ASA Filament Brands Available In The Market
3D Best-Q ASA
This filament is suitable for outdoor applications because it has a low level of yellowing. According to the manufacturer, it has less prone to warping and has better layer adhesion properties. It comes only in white colour, and you can find it on Amazon. For more details, click here.
This filament will provide a matte finish look and comes in many different colours. You do not need any specific sized nozzle or layer height for printing it. It is easier to print than ABS filament and has fewer chances to warp. For more details, click here.
This is the most popular ASA filament and is widely used. It gives you a lot of information beforehand, like the tensile and bending strength, the glass transition temperature of the material, and the required time for drying the filament. You can check this out here.
You will find only two colours in this brand. This brand has also given a lot of information regarding their ASA filaments like tensile strength, melting point, mechanical properties, heating temperatures, and a guide to print. For more details, check here.
Fillamentum ASA Extrafill is a bit expensive filament, but it offers you eleven colours in three different diameter sizes! According to manufacturers, it can be recycled and environment-friendly filament. Though it is not as superior as the rest on the list, it has positive reviews. So, here you can check this filament in a more detailed manner.