Today I made my first more complex 3D-Print with ABS plastic.
I decided to print another Star Wars character to test the actual capabilities of the printer and the plastic filament I ordered.

After having some problems with printing more complex models using PLA I decided to try out ABS. It’s not natural like PLA, but it is said to have a better printing quality when you’re doing models with overhangs and fine details. If you know of any PLA sources of high quality that are also good for overhangs and more complex details please do tell. The PLA I was using before was from faberdashery and while it is of great quality (beautiful color palette, consistent filament diameter, sticks great to the heatbed) I wasn’t able to print models with overhang with their filament.
Using a part cooling fan improved the situation but it still wasn’t pefect. My ABS used in this print is from Fabber Parts.

Here’s a photo from the model directly after the print:

Afterwards I cleaned off the support material with an exacto knife:

Now it was time for the finishing. I put the model in an acetone bath for 3 seconds. You can see the effect in the photo below. Besides smoothing the model surface it gives a glossy finishing that might not be desirable for every print.
If you’re planning to use the acetone technique as well, please do it somewhere outdoors. The fumes are quite toxic.

The technical part

The 3D printer I’m using is an eMaker Huxley (I got mine from an indiegogo campaign, now they can be ordered from reprappro). It’s not Plug’n’Play and it’s definitely not low-maintenance yet but on the other hand if I was able to assemble it you might be too ;). What I’d like to see are affordable 3D printers that can even be operated by school children but that is still a long way to go I think. We are on the right track though!

The printed model is from http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:10752. A great place for finding 3d models.

I used Slic3r 0.8.4 for generating the printer commands (they are stored in a .gcode file), you can download my config here. As you can see in the config I used a 0.2mm layer height for this model. I really like the outcome. There are still some thing that I have to tune but I’m getting there. Next thing will be to swap the printer firmware for Marlin in order to achieve even better print results.

Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. Looking good! Can you give more information on the “acetone bath” technique and details of the hot end and bed temperatures. Did you print onto Kapton tape in order to get the ABS to stick?

  2. i printed the first layer with 235° and the rest with 220°. i printed on kapton and heated the bed to 80° (i have the PCB heatbed). but as i had to find out recently you can’t rely on temperature values from other people’s printers because every printer has set up its thermistors differently. i guess we’re pretty much on our own regarding the temperatures. trial and error…

    the acetone bath: it’s pretty easy to do. just fill some container (of course not made of plastic) with acetone so that you can “dunk” your model in it and pull it out quickly. i put my model in for 3 seconds but i guess you can experiment on that and find out the best time for your models. the longer you keep it in the acetone the more “gummy” the plastic gets. after the bath just let your model dry.

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About Jonas

My name is Jonas Jäger and I work as a designer & developer. I recently founded my first startup comuvo.com with the wonderful Eva Bachmann. I'm a great web & technology geek, so the content on this blog will mainly focus on these topics. Since I'm also working on comuvo right now there will also be some startup-related Posts.