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PC-ABS 3D printing

PC-ABS (Polycarbonate - Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene): 

PC-ABS is an engineering thermoplastic that blends the desired 3D printing properties of ABS with the increased strength and heat resistance of polycarbonate. PC-ABS is widely used by traditional manufacturing methods for industrial, consumer, electronics, and telecommunication applications. Due to it's increased strength and heat resistance it was recently adopted in automotive industry for structural and aesthetic elements (bumper covers, interior panels, dashboard...). 

Within the 3D printing community it is one of the strongest materials and it is used to directly manufacture production parts that can withstand a temperature of up to 125 °C in air.

 

3D printing with PC-ABS:

PC-ABS behaves like ABS while 3D printed. Like many engineering thermoplastics, it will contract when cooled, therefore it will develop interlayer stress at the interface between a new hot layer 3D printed on top of a cold layer or bed surface. That can result in layer adhesion problems with the printing bed or in between 3D printed layers, and/or curling (upwards bending of the part corners and sides). This curling is more pronounced as the 3D printed object size is increased. The stress release behavior can be avoided by maintaining the entire 3D printed object at a temperature close to the glass transition temperature of the material and then cool it in its entirety after the 3D printing process is completed. Glass transition temperature is where the thermoplastic softens and becomes plastic (malleable, soft).

3FXtrud Uno printers use a heated bed which provides consistent and uniform heating across the whole bed surface. 3FXtrud Duo series of 3D printers have a heated bed and a full enclosure around the 3D printed volume which provides a consistent, stable, uniform warm air environment around the printed objects, thus improving the whole 3D printing process by minimizing further the interlayer stress problem.  

PC-ABS consists of a blend of polymers resulting in a whole range of mechanical and thermal properties as a function of material composition. PC-ABS used for 3D printing will extrude above 260 °C. For good layer adhesion and reasonable fast printing speeds, it will print at a higher temperature of around 280 - 290 °C. A reliable 3D printing head (or extruder) needs to withstand these temperatures for an indefinitely long time. 3FXtrud printers use a whole metal hot end design which works reliably and provides consistent 3D printing of PC-ABS blends. 

 

3D printing requirements: 

A heated bed that can operate at at least 120 °C is required, along with an enclosure around the printed volume to prevent warping and a hot end that can sustain 290 °C continuously. PC-ABS is available in 1.75 mm and 3 mm.

Pyra 2 uses 3 mm filament, while the newer 3FXtrud 20 Uno3FXtrud 25 Uno3FXtrud 25 Duo, and 3FXtrud 30 Duo use 1.75 mm. 

material Maximum service temperature in air printing temperature heated bed (HB) HB temperature enclosure
PC-ABS 125 °C 260 - 290 °C must have 120 - 130 °C required

 

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