Can You Print ABS Filament with the Ender 3 (Pro/V2)?

While not as popular of an option as PLA and PETG, ABS filament holds an important place in the world of 3D printing due to it being the first filament that comes to mind when it’s time to print a part that requires high structural integrity, as it’s capable of tolerating both heat and impacts very well, while being highly durable in general.

On the other hand, the advantages that ABS bring aren’t without cost, as ABS is also one of the more challenging filaments to print successfully, primarily due to it coming with some strict hardware requirements that mean only some 3D printers can produce a successful print with ABS filament, unlike PLA and PETG which almost all 3D printers can handle with ease.

In today’s article, our discussion will be on the capability of a stock Ender 3 to print ABS filament successfully, where we will determine whether the hardware of an Ender 3, as it comes out of the box, without any modifications, checks the necessary boxes, such as providing enough temperature, to meet the printing requirements of ABS.

So, can you print ABS filament with the stock Ender 3?

You can print ABS filament with the stock Ender 3, as the Ender 3 can safely go up to 240 degrees Celsius without issues, which covers a good portion of the temperature range required for printing ABS (around 220 to 260 degrees Celsius), and has a heated bed, which is practically the only other necessity for printing ABS.

Moving forward, we will examine the compatibility between a stock Ender 3 and ABS filament in better detail, go through some recommendations to push the print quality higher while printing ABS with the Ender 3, discuss the optimal print settings that will yield the best results, and finally, take a glance at the process of saving the ABS-specific settings you have configured permanently in Cura.

Can You Print ABS Filament with the Ender 3 (Pro/V2)?

Since whether you can successfully print with a particular filament primarily depends on the hardware of your 3D printer supporting it, the first step to take before even purchasing the filament is to ensure that your 3D printer has the necessary hardware to conduct the 3D printing process.

When we take a quick look at the requirements of successfully printing ABS filament, the two primary conditions that stand out are a relatively high print temperature requirement for sufficiently melting the filament and the necessity of a print bed to prevent warping.

Regarding temperature, the Ender 3 can safely go up to 240 degrees Celsius, with the limitation stemming from the fact that the hotend is PTFE-lined and not all-metal, even though the heat block is capable of heating to 280 degrees Celsius according to Creality.

Considering that a print temperature range of 220 to 260 degrees Celsius is one that we can consider to be the average when printing ABS, we can say that the Ender 3 hotend is capable of covering the lower half, which technically makes it eligible for printing ABS.

On the other hand, regarding the print bed, there are no issues at all, as the stock Ender 3 comes with a heated bed that is more than capable of handling the bed temperature requirements of printing ABS with a maximum temperature of 110 degrees Celsius, with 110 degrees Celsius also being the maximum suggested bed temperature for ABS in most cases.

While the fact that the Ender 3 cannot cover the entirety of the suggested print temperature range of ABS can lead to issues in cases where increasing the print temperature becomes required, such as the filament not melting quickly enough, such problems can often be remedied through other means, with reducing the print speed being the prime example.

How to Obtain Higher-Quality ABS Prints with the Ender 3 (Pro/V2)?

While they aren’t exact necessities to successfully print with ABS, there are a few extra things you can do to take the quality of your ABS prints to the next level and ensure that you’re always obtaining the highest-quality prints possible.

When printing ABS is the topic, the first improvement that comes to mind is the addition of an enclosure, which brings stability to the ambient temperature by protecting the print from drafts that introduce temperature fluctuations, something that can drastically affect ABS in a negative way during the printing process and cause it to warp.

While not exactly a permanent solution due to it not creating a perfect seal and also due to the increase in material usage and print time that comes with it, you can utilize Cura’s draft shield feature in cases where you’re looking for a quick solution that will simulate the behavior of an enclosure and prevent ABS from warping.

The second improvement that will allow you to obtain higher-quality ABS prints with the Ender 3 is the addition of an all-metal hotend, which will make it possible to utilize print temperatures that cover the entirety of the optimal ABS print temperature range by removing the PTFE lining that limits the print temperature from the equation.

As a result, you will be able to increase the print temperature all the way up to the maximum value suggested by the manufacturer if it becomes necessary, which will ensure that you never face any problems related to the print temperature being too low, such as under-extrusion.

What Are the Optimal ABS Settings for the Ender 3 (Pro/V2)?

Finally, the last step of ensuring that your ABS prints are high quality is to configure the print settings as optimally as possible, which can usually be slightly more challenging compared to performing the configuration for filaments that are easier to print, such as PETG and PLA.

Below, you can find the optimal settings that we recommend utilizing when printing ABS with the Ender 3:

  • Print Temperature – 220 degrees Celsius to 260 degrees Celsius
  • Bed Temperature – 90 degrees Celsius to 110 degrees Celsius
  • Print Speed – 40 millimeters per second to 60 millimeters per second
  • Cooling (Fan Speed) – 0 percent to 20 percent (you can go higher when printing overhangs and bridges)
  • Layer Height – 0.24 millimeters
  • Initial Layer Height – 0.28 millimeters
  • Initial Layer Temperature – 10 degrees higher than Print Temperature
  • Initial Bed Temperature – 5 degrees higher than Bed Temperature
  • Travel Speed – 150 millimeters per second
  • Retraction Distance – 4.5 millimeters (for stock Bowden extruder)
  • Retraction Speed – 40 millimeters per second

How to Configure ABS-Specific Settings for the Ender 3 (Pro/V2) in Cura?

When you have performed the necessary configuration for printing ABS and thoroughly tested it, the only thing that is left to do is to permanently save it, which will both act as a user-friendly way to switch between settings whenever you need it and also allow you to preserve the configuration, ensuring that they are never lost.

Below, you can find a step-by-step guide that you can follow to configure ABS-specific settings for the Ender 3 in Cura:

  1. Click the Prepare tab located on the top of the Cura window.
  2. Click the pane in the middle to make material settings visible.
  3. Click the Material dropdown.
  4. Hover over Generic, and choose PETG from the menu.
  5. Switch to the pane on the right to make print settings visible.
  6. Click the Custom button if it’s visible. Else, skip this step.
  7. Click the dropdown labeled as Profile, and choose one of the default profiles to be the foundation.
  8. Apply the ABS-specific configuration of your choice through the Print Settings dialog.
  9. Click the Profile dropdown once more, and click “Create profile from current settings/overrides…” to save your custom settings.
  10. Input the name you would like the new profile to have, and click OK.

Wrapping Up

As we can consider ABS to be one of the more demanding filaments to print, both in terms of the hardware and the precise configuration it requires, achieving success with ABS can definitely be a bit of a process, especially if your 3D printer does not support it out of the box.

To quickly recap, the stock Ender 3 comes with a heated bed that can sufficiently fulfill the bed temperature requirements of ABS (110°C) and a hotend that goes up to 240°C, which covers a portion of the optimal print temperature range for ABS (220°C-260°C), it is undoubtedly suitable for printing ABS filament.

That being said, the Ender 3, at least in its stock state, is definitely not the 3D printer that will provide you with the highest-quality ABS prints, as it lacks an enclosure and an all-metal hot-end, which are components that ABS greatly benefits from when it comes to print quality.

Happy printing!