Due to it being more challenging to print in terms of both configuration and required hardware compared to PLA and PETG while not offering a lot of extras, we can all accept that ABS is not the go-to filament in most cases.
On the other hand, we also can’t deny that there are areas where the temperature resistance qualities of PLA and PETG fall short, where manufacturing a model with ABS becomes necessary to benefit from its attribute of resisting higher temperatures.
In today’s article, we will be going through the entire process of optimally configuring Cura settings for printing with ABS filament, which should act as a reliable starting point for those who will print with ABS filament for the first time.
So, what are the most optimal ABS settings for Cura?
- Print speed – 40 to 60 mm/s
- Print temperature – 220°C to 260°C
- Layer height – 0.24 mm
- Initial layer settings – Height: 0.28 mm | Temperature: 230°C
- to 270°C | Bed Temperature: 95°C to 115°C
- Retraction settings – Distance: 2 mm (Direct Drive), 4.5 mm (Bowden) | Speed: 40 mm/s
- Travel speed – 150 mm/s
- Bed temperature – 90°C to 110°C
- Cooling speed – 0-20%
Next up, we will take a deep dive into each essential parameter in Cura and their optimal values for printing ABS in greater detail and find out how to activate a specific configuration set for ABS to pre-load Cura’s default ABS settings before performing our own optimization.
What Are the Most Optimal ABS Settings for Cura?
Configuring the print settings as optimally as possible is the first step to obtaining a successful print with any filament since the abilities of the 3D printer are limited to how optimal the configuration you have provided is.
The print speed variable determines how quickly the extruder assembly moves during extrusion, determining how fast the 3D printer will print your model.
For printing with ABS filament, we recommend using a value between 40 and 60 mm/s for the Print Speed parameter in Cura, a fairly standard range that balances quality and speed.
As the trade-off is between quality and speed in the case of print speed, you can opt to go for the lower end of this range for higher quality prints or the higher end for faster print times at the expense of lower quality.
The print temperature variable determines how hot the nozzle is and, as a result, how hot the filament gets as it leaves the nozzle.
While the average print temperature range for printing with ABS filament is 220 to 260 degrees Celsius, it’s worth noting that a difference of 40 degrees between the lower end and the higher end of the range is pretty high.
Because of this, we highly recommend using the print temperature value supplied by the manufacturer of the ABS you’re using, which should provide a more precise value that will work best for your filament whenever possible.
On the other hand, for cases where you don’t have access to a print temperature value by the manufacturer, running a series of test prints while incrementally increasing or decreasing the print temperature in increments of 5 degrees within this range should allow you to find the sweet spot.
The layer height variable determines the thickness of the layers your 3D printed model comprises.
For a standard 0.4 mm nozzle, setting the layer height value to 0.24 mm in Cura should work well for printing with ABS filament, balancing quality and print time.
Based on your observations, you can slightly increase the layer height value for faster print times or slightly decrease it for better print quality.
The initial layer settings are responsible for only the first layer of your 3D print, as the initial layer can sometimes require distinct configuration.
- Printing Temperature Initial Layer – +5 degrees of the Print Temperature
- Bed Temperature Initial Layer – +5 degrees of the Bed Temperature
- Initial Layer Height – 0.28 mm
Configuring the layer height, the printing temperature, and the bed temperature for the initial layer to be slightly higher than the rest of the print is often a good idea to ensure optimal bed adhesion.
Retraction settings determine how the 3D printer performs the retraction process, and even though retraction is optional, correctly configuring retraction is usually necessary for a successful 3D printing process.
- Enable Retraction – Enabled
- Retraction Distance – 2 mm (Direct Drive) / 4 mm (Bowden)
- Retraction Speed – 40 mm/s
While retraction settings are standard for the most part, optimizing them as much as possible is the best way to ensure that you don’t face the common problems of stringing and blobbing.
The travel speed variable determines how quickly the extruder assembly moves, but unlike the print speed variable, it only applies to movements where extrusion is not taking place.
While the travel speed largely depends on the capabilities of your 3D printer, a value of 150 mm/s is reasonably standard, which is what we recommend for printing with ABS filament as well.
For the most part, keeping the travel speed value as high as possible at the point where you don’t face issues such as ringing is best for the printing process as it will decrease print times and reduce the likelihood of oozing.
The bed temperature parameter determines how hot the heated bed gets during printing.
A bed temperature value that falls in the range of 90 to 110 degrees Celsius should do the job for printing with ABS filament, but the best way to find the optimal value for this parameter is to consult the manufacturer’s website for their recommendations.
As the ideal bed temperature value depends on the glass transition temperature of the filament you’re using, you can quite easily set this value to be higher or lower than optimal, which will cause problems for the printing process.
Cooling (Fan) Speed
The cooling fan speed parameter determines how quickly the cooling fans run during printing.
Cooling is not necessary for printing with ABS filament, so setting the cooling fan speed to a value between 0 to 20 percent in Cura should provide optimal results.
Since going for higher cooling fan speed values can cause your ABS to solidify way too quickly and cause issues with bed and layer adhesion, it’s vital to be careful when increasing this parameter.
We highly recommend observing the results of your prints and optimizing these values further to find the set of parameters that work best for your 3D printer, the ABS filament you use, and the purpose of the models you’re printing.
How to Activate ABS Settings in Cura?
Cura offers presets that contain Cura’s default settings for each filament, which makes it a good idea to activate these presets before moving on to custom configuration to ensure that the parameters we don’t configure manually aren’t incorrect for the filament we use.
By following the steps we have outlined below, you can activate the preset that contains Cura’s default settings for ABS filament:
- Navigate to the Prepare tab of Cura, which you can find at the top of the Cura window.
- Click the tab in the middle, which displays information about the currently selected material and nozzle size.
- Click the Material dropdown, hover over the Generic category, and choose ABS from the list to activate Cura’s default ABS settings.
- If a popup dialog shows options to keep or discard the changes, click the discard button to allow Cura to override your current settings with its ABS defaults.
After activating the default ABS settings in Cura, you can modify the parameters you are looking to optimize through the Print Settings menu and save your changes as a profile when you are done.
By following this method, you will ensure that you will be printing with Cura’s ABS defaults for any parameter that you haven’t modified instead of using values that may belong to different filament types from a profile you have previously loaded.
While optimizing the slicer settings as best as possible for a new filament will take some iterations, we believe that the values we have mentioned in this article are a good starting point that will allow you to obtain successful prints with ABS.
To quickly recap, let’s once more go through the settings we recommend using for printing ABS filament with Cura:
- Print speed – 40 to 60 millimeters per second
- Travel speed – 150 millimeters per second
- Print temperature – 220 to 260 degrees Celsius
- Bed temperature – 90 to 110 degrees Celsius
- Layer height – 0.24 millimeters
- Initial layer settings – Height: 0.28 millimeters | Temperature: 220 to 260 degrees Celsius | Bed Temperature: 90 to 110 degrees Celsius
- Retraction settings – Distance: 2 millimeters (Direct Drive), 4.5 millimeters (Bowden) | Speed: 40 millimeters per second
- Cooling speed – 0-20%
Please note that even though these values should allow you to obtain successful prints, it’s always possible to find more optimal values that will take your 3D printed models to the next level through experimentation as each 3D printer works differently, and each model has different requirements.
Mike started his 3D printing journey with the Anet A8 when it first came out back in 2017, and has been obsessed with 3D printers ever since. Nowadays, he primarily uses his Ender 3 to print functional parts that make his life more convenient whenever possible.