How Heat Resistant Is ABS? (When Does It Melt?)

We can all agree that heat resistance is usually not the first quality that comes to mind when deciding on a type of filament for an upcoming project; as with the majority of the 3D printing projects, factors such as ease of print and post-processing options take precedence.

On the other hand, with the increasing popularity of 3D printing, we can also observe that enthusiasts started utilizing 3D printing to manufacture parts for high-stress applications in terms of factors like heat and impact, making how resistant a material is a vital part of the decision process.

In today’s article, we will analyze how well ABS does when it comes to heat resistance, which we believe to be an especially significant factor for prints that have functional purposes, as heat is without a doubt one of the most common environmental factors.

So, how heat resistant is ABS?

Even though the exact figure will most likely show a few degrees of difference between different brands of ABS filament due to differences in the manufacturing process and material composition, on average, ABS should technically tolerate temperatures up to 95-100 degrees Celsius.

Moving forward, we will dive deeper into the heat resistance capabilities of ABS in more detail, find out what temperature ABS melts at and if the sun can damage it, and finally, discuss whether ABS is a good choice for outdoor applications or not.

How Heat Resistant Is ABS?

While not the absolute best in the heat resistance department, ABS is a type of filament that we can consider heat-resistant enough for almost all applications with its high heat tolerance.

ABS should be resistant to temperatures up to 95-100 degrees Celsius, which is a very close range to its glass transition temperature, at where the plastic will start deforming.

While ABS won’t entirely melt and turn liquid upon exceeding these temperatures, it will start softening, losing its rigidity, and as a result, show deformation, rendering the object unable to fulfill its function anymore.

Please keep in mind that the figures we have mentioned are merely averages, meaning that we do not recommend solely using these values to decide whether ABS is sufficiently heat-resistant for the purposes of your project.

To obtain a concrete piece of information about the heat resistance capabilities of the specific spool of ABS filament you own, we highly recommend consulting the packaging of the filament or the manufacturer’s website.

In most cases, a high-quality spool of ABS filament should contain basic information such as its melting point and glass transition temperature on its packaging or the manufacturer’s website.

If the manufacturer doesn’t provide this information, we recommend running a few test prints by gradually increasing the bed temperatures to find the point where the plastic does not solidify.

Finding the temperature where the plastic remains soft gives us a good idea of its heat resistance capabilities, which we can even use to grab a more solid value with the help of an IR thermometer.

At What Temperature Does ABS Filament Melt?

As the word melting refers to the complete liquefication of the material, temperatures that are much higher than what makes a material soften and lose its structural integrity (glass transition temperature) need to be at play for the material to melt.

In the case of ABS filament, the melting point usually falls into the range of 220-250 degrees Celsius, depending on the exact material composition that has been used to manufacture it.

In 3D printing, the melting point of a material signifies the optimal nozzle temperature that we should use to print it, as we require the material to liquefy for it to flow out of the nozzle freely and make its way to the build plate.

We highly recommend getting the information of the melting point value for the specific ABS filament you own from the manufacturer rather than going by the averages, as the manufacturer’s recommendation will always yield the best results.

Will ABS Melt or Warp in the Sun?

The sun is one of the first things that come to mind when we think about heat resistance, as it’s a source of heat that a 3D printed model is likely to be exposed to in many situations.

Let’s start by saying that it’s practically impossible for ABS to reach either its melting point of 220-250 degrees Celsius or its glass transition temperature of 95-100 degrees Celsius due to sunlight exposure, meaning that ABS can neither melt nor warp in the sun.

Considering that even a car seat exposed to sunlight for hours is unlikely to exceed even 70 degrees Celsius and that parts of a car, such as dashboards and steering wheel covers, are mostly made of ABS, rest assured that your prints are safe from the sun.

Bottom line, you can feel free to use ABS for applications that you will expose to direct sunlight for extended periods, as the heat from the sun won’t be able to damage your 3D printed models.

Is ABS Good for Outdoor Applications?

As many distinct environmental factors can cause your 3D printed model to degrade in different ways in an outdoor scenario, a vital point to consider before manufacturing a model for outdoor usage is whether the filament type you use is suitable for outdoor applications.

While its high heat and impact resistance capabilities can make ABS seem like a fantastic choice for outdoor applications, there is one factor where it falls slightly short, which is its UV resistance.

Since ABS isn’t UV resistant enough to resist degradation, prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays can cause ABS to lose its structural integrity and render your print unusable, making ABS not the most suitable choice for outdoor applications.

Even with a lower heat tolerance than ABS, we recommend PETG for outdoor applications – as PETG is still heat resistant enough not to be damaged by the sun’s heat and UV resistant enough not to suffer structural damage from ultraviolet rays.

Wrapping Up

As one of the most heat-resistant filament types available right now, ABS is a fantastic choice for most applications where the 3D printed model’s exposure to heat will be high.

To quickly recap, we can say that ABS, on average, should be able to withstand temperatures up to 95-100 degrees Celsius, making it one of the most heat-resistant types of filament on the market right now.

On the other hand, as always, we highly recommend using the values from the manufacturer for the specific spool of ABS you will use, or if that is not available, running your own tests to find out the actual point where the plastic cannot tolerate the heat anymore.

Happy printing!