What Are the Optimal Retraction Settings for ABS? (Solved)

While an optional feature that you can disable if you wish to, retraction is, without a doubt, one of the most fundamental features in 3D printing that should be active in almost all scenarios due to its contributions to eliminating the annoying issues of stringing and oozing.

Unfortunately, configuring the retraction settings to make the retraction feature work as well as it should isn’t always an easy task, especially considering that the optimal value for each parameter shows variance based on the hardware and the type of filament.

Today’s topic will be the retraction settings for printing with ABS filament, where we will find out how to configure these settings as optimally as possible to achieve a successful printing process that isn’t troubled by common issues such as blobbing and stringing.

So, what are the optimal retraction settings for ABS?

  • Retraction Speed – 40 millimeters per second
  • Retraction Distance – 2 millimeters (Direct Drive) / 4.5 millimeters (Bowden)
  • Retraction Minimum Travel – 1.5 millimeters

Moving on, we will analyze each parameter of the retraction settings for printing with ABS filament in more detail, find out how to apply the appropriate configuration in Cura and PrusaSlicer, and finally, take a quick look at the effects of incorrectly configuring the retraction settings.

What Are the Optimal Retraction Settings for ABS?

Retraction settings can be as challenging to configure as they are essential to the printing process, as finding the optimal values do require a considerable amount of experimentation.

Because of this, we will be going into the retraction distance, retraction speed, and retraction minimum travel parameters individually to learn more about how they affect the printing process and how we can configure them as best as possible for printing with ABS filament.

Retraction Speed

The first parameter we will discuss is retraction speed, which is responsible for setting the pullback speed of the filament from the nozzle back into the extruder.

We have found that using a value of 40 millimeters per second for the retraction speed parameter while printing with ABS filament yields excellent results, eliminating stringing without the risk of filament grinding or nozzle jamming.

Keeping this value as high as possible at the point where you don’t experience any filament grinding will always yield the most optimal results as higher values will decrease the print times.

For more detailed optimization, we recommend increasing the value if you’re seeing stringing and oozing and decreasing it if you’re experiencing issues with filament grinding and nozzle blockages, preferably in increments of 1mm/s.

Retraction Distance

Next up is retraction distance, the parameter that holds the value of how far back into the filament will be pulled whenever retraction takes place.

We recommend a retraction distance value of 2 millimeters for Direct Drive extruders to print ABS filament.

On the other hand, printing ABS with a retraction distance value of 4.5 millimeters yields promising results for Bowden extruders.

While optimizing the retraction distance value further, an essential rule of thumb is to ensure that it’s always less than the length of your 3D printer’s nozzle.

To further optimize retraction with the findings from your experiments, you can increase or decrease the retraction distance value in increments of 0.1 to 0.2 millimeters. Moving up is suitable for over-extrusion (stringing, blobbing, etc.), whereas moving down is appropriate for under-extrusion (gaps and holes, possible filament grinding, and nozzle jam).

Retraction Minimum Travel

Finally, let’s take a look at retraction minimum travel, which is the parameter that essentially determines the frequency of retractions based on the travel move distances.

A value of 1.5 millimeters is pretty standard for the retraction minimum travel parameter across all types of filaments, and ABS is no exception in this case.

If you’re going for maximum optimization, you should aim to push this value up as high as possible until you start experiencing over-extrusion due to the lack of retractions, which will print your speed up by getting unnecessary retractions out of the way.

While it’s unlikely you will need to tweak this value further due to problems, moving up or down in increments of 0.1 mm is what we recommend if you’re experiencing too many or too few retractions.

How to Configure ABS Retraction Settings in Cura?

Configuring the retraction settings optimally for ABS and saving them for later usage is a simple process that will make your life much easier, especially if you frequently switch between filaments.

By following the steps below, you can create ABS-specific retraction settings in Cura that you can load whenever necessary:

  1. Navigate to the Prepare tab in Cura.
  2. Switch to the middle pane, which is the one that contains information about your currently selected filament profile and nozzle size.
  3. Click the Material dropdown menu, and choose ABS from the Generic tab.
  4. Switch to the right pane, which is the one that displays information about some print settings, such as the infill density.
  5. Type “retraction” into the search input.
  6. Click the “three lines” icon next to the search input, and choose the All option to make all settings visible.

Following these steps will load Cura’s default material profile for ABS filament, allowing you to add your custom retraction settings while keeping all the other parameters at their Cura defaults.

If you wish to, you can save your settings as a new profile (Profile dropdown -> Create profile from current settings/overrides) once you finish configuring, which you can load in conjunction with the ABS material profile later to avoid re-configuring the settings.

How to Configure ABS Retraction Settings in PrusaSlicer?

As PrusaSlicer makes it a breeze to configure retraction settings for ABS filament with its user-friendly interface, the process should neither take too much of your time nor your effort.

With the steps below, you can quickly configure retraction settings for your ABS filament in PrusaSlicer:

  1. Click the Plater tab on the top of the PrusaSlicer window.
  2. Choose the Generic ABS option from the Filament dropdown (top-right of the window).
  3. Navigate to the Printer Settings tab.
  4. Click the Expert button if you haven’t already to make all settings visible.
  5. Choose Extruder 1 from the left pane, which will open up the Retraction section.

Since following these steps will load PrusaSlicer’s default settings for ABS filament, you will be able to override this profile with your retraction settings and save the configuration into a new profile to create an ABS profile that combines PrusaSlicer’s default settings and your retraction settings.

Effects of Too Much or Too Little Retraction on Printing ABS

Even though retraction is highly beneficial when the configuration is correct, the effects of too much or too little retraction can be pretty harmful to the printing process.

In the case you’re applying too much retraction while printing with ABS filament, you would notice the signs below:

  • Under-extrusion
  • Filament grinding
  • Partial or complete nozzle jam
  • Gaps and holes on the print

On the other hand, if retraction is too little while printing with ABS filament, the following symptoms would be present:

  • Over-extrusion
  • Stringing
  • Blobbing
  • Loss of quality in detailed areas

Wrapping Up

An appropriately configured set of retraction settings for the type of filament you use goes a long way to reduce and eliminate many of the 3D printing problems, with the widespread issues of stringing and blobbing being the first ones that come to mind.

To quickly recap, the optimal retraction settings for ABS are on the standard side with a similar profile to popular filaments such as PLA and PETG, meaning that you most likely won’t have to perform drastic changes on the retraction settings you already have.

On the other hand, if you are unsure where to start, a retraction speed of 40 millimeters per second, a retraction distance of 4.5 millimeters (2 millimeters for Direct Drive extruders), and a retraction minimum travel value of 1.5 millimeters should provide a balanced profile that eliminates stringing issues.

To find the values that yield the absolute best performance possible, we always recommend running experiments with different values before starting a large 3D printing project that will take a lot of time and material.

Happy printing!