asa-filament

Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate commonly known as ASA is a thermoplastic which combines water resistance, mechanical strength, and UV resistance and used in 3D printing.  It is ideal for the automotive industry, prototyping, and outdoor applications as it has an exceptional chemical resistance as well as high dimensional stability. It consists of a matte finish which ensures there is no discoloring, dense, sturdy and durable making recommendable for various uses.

Excellent outdoor use enables to distinguish ASA from other types of filament. Outdoor uses require excellent material which can be able to withstand various elements. ASA is viewed as the best for the purpose as it highly weathers resistance and posse’s high UV resistance.

Pros and Cons of ASA filament

Pros:

  • ASA filament is mostly used as an alternative to the ABS filament being a thermoplastic that can go through the melting point, cooling and re-heating again without degradation. ASA filament is considered as the best option in 3D printing as it has a combination of high UV resistance and mechanical strength which makes it an excellent material for outdoor uses.
  • During outdoor activities, ASA can portray higher resistance and can be able to accommodate more prolonged periods of direct sunlight and does not turn yellowish, unlike the ABS.
  • With exceptional chemical and weather resistance as well as higher durability, it brings about great shapes and color retention properties.

Cons:

  • ASA filament has its downside as well which includes releasing potentially toxic fumes during the printing process. It is vital for users to have proper masks during printing.
  • ASA filament is also expensive compared to the other filaments. It also has a low availability and thus not common among many users.
  • The ASA filament has a high melting point thus requires a higher extruder temperature to facilitate for that. This, in turn, affects the overall utilization of energy and has an impact on the product’s economics.

ASA filaments setting

The general printing settings of ASA require the printing temperature to be between 240oC to 260oC, the printing speed ranging from 20-30mm/sec and the bed temperature at 90oC to 110oC.  ASA filament requires having the following in check as parts of its setting and ensuring an excellent work:

ASA Parts with 3d printing
  • The first layer should stick to the bed, and this requires the bed to be heated to up to 100oC. To increase adhesion, glue or Kapton tape can be used on the bed surface.
  • The bed should be well leveled even though the 3D printers come with automatic leveling systems. Use of bed adhesion tools such as rafts and brims is also essential as it helps to keep up the bed adhesion during the entire process.
  • The fan should be switched off during the printing process with ASA filament as it ensures a successful print.
  • The temperature should be used and adjusted in reference to the manufacturer’s specifications.
  • The closed enclosure is recommended as it helps in doing away with layer cracking, ensuring the bed temperature is not affected sand enabling the printing to take place in a controlled environment.

ASA filament fumes

Just like other filaments, ASA emits dangerous fumes that are smelly and intense during the printing process. The fumes are emitted by the plastic because there is the presence of Styrene.  The fumes are a health hazard as they can cause headaches and irritation among other problems.

Using ASA filament requires the workplace to have proper ventilation because of the potential smelly fumes as well as the use of appropriate masks during printing. Having a fan or a filter for fume extraction or an enclosure also helps in limiting the amount of fumes produced.

ASA filament warping

Warping is a common and annoying problem with 3D printing, and it does not leave ASA filament out. Warping happens when the object fails to cool evenly after printing. In bad cases, a warping 3D printing can cause the heated bed to pop off which in turn causes it to fail.

When printing with ASA, it is vital to keep a heated print bed as a way of preventing warping. Ensuring there is no stress along the lateral surfaces prevents deformation and pulling up an inward.

In the case of warping, there are various ways which can be used to fix the problem which are:

  • improving the bed adhesion
  • reducing the cooling time
  • increasing ambient temperature

Not all warped prints can be fixed. Among other factors, the thickness and the volume of the print matters.

Drying ASA filament

If the ASA filament has absorbed water, there is a need to dry it out before it can be used to print. The method used for the drying the ASA filament is widely used and acceptable in the industrial drying system. An oven can be used to make the work easier.  First, the glass transition temperature for the ASA filament should be checked to ensure that the oven temperature is below the glass transition temperature.

When drying ASA filament, it is crucial to check on how hot the oven runs. Also, only electric ovens should be used for this purpose.

ASA vs. ABS filament bed adhesion

Bed adhesion is a significant element considered when getting a good 3D print. A 3D printer should have a heated bed for successful printing as the plastic shrinks when cooling. The absence of a heated bed makes the bottom of the print cool at different rates resulting in warping.

ASA filament is temperature sensitive which means without the right temperature, it warps and splits. ASA filament does not work well without a heated bed. The high-temperature material requires a high-performance printer which has enclosed chambers to avoid cracking of the parts during the printing process.  With ASA, the bed temperature must be at 115°C, and the extruder should reach 260°C. The adhesion tools that should be used include brim and rafts.

As much as ABS filament is strong and durable, it is prone to warping as it does not stick easily and there is a need to create a strong bed adhesion to smoothen the printing process.  The bed should be leveled to create an excellent adhesion.  The bed temperature is supposed to be at 100°C and 220°C for the extruder. The first layer should also be at 0.22mm for better results.  Baking the ABS filament is essential in a bid to drive away from the moisture and enable it to stick. The recommended adhesion tools include Kapton tape, super glue, hair spray, ABS slurry, big raft, corn syrup among others.

Even though for most people in 3D printing community ASA filament is unheard of, it is an excellent material that is suitable for outdoor printing among others. ASA is a thermoplastic used in 3D printing owing to its amazing features that are suitable for outdoor use. It has high UV resistance and wears and impact resistance. It is best used in the following places; outdoor which includes housing components, exterior signage, sporting goods, garden equipment, and automotive exterior parts. ASA filament has its benefits and disadvantages as stated above; however, it is the best filament when it comes to functional prototypes and outdoor purposes.

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