Whatever your preference when it comes to 3D printing materials, it’s hard to ignore the fact that ABS is a problem kid in the filament family. Compared to PLA, it has several reasons: it is harder and harder, less prone to warping and more heat-resistant. But when it comes to safety for people and the environment, ABS is a bit tricky. That foul smell that the filament gives off when printing isn’t just annoying. Recent studies have shown that these noxious fumes give off known carcinogens. It can’t be used to make anything that comes in contact with food, and even without the health hazards, the petroleum-based ABS is more polluting than PLA, which is generally made from biodegradable materials.
What does the ABS fan do? While there are hundreds – maybe thousands – of varieties of PLA, many of which offer safety and environmental friendliness beyond the standard PLA, ABS is more difficult to play around with. But you may remember that a month ago filament manufacturer ALGIX 3D announced that it would soon be releasing a new ABS alternative called DURA. As of today, DURA is on the market and, as promised, is less toxic, more sustainable and more efficient than standard ABS.
“At ALGIX 3D, we test all of the materials we produce and analyze the vapors released during printing,” said Ashton Zeller, ALGIX 3D director for research and development. “We are proud to report that DURA is much safer for the environment and the user than ABS.”
DURA was subjected to gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GCMS) test by ALGIX. At this point the material was found to have lower toxicity and volatility than ABS. It’s also much more environmentally friendly and complies with the sustainable principles of ALGIX 3D. DURA is mainly made from sustainable materials and is compostable.
“The industry has had a tremendous response since we previewed DURA at the Consumer Electronics Showcase (CES) in early January,” said Ryan Hunt, ALGIX 3D CTO and Managing Director. “This product represents another innovation on our sustainability platform and comes at a good time for the market due to recent attention related to the toxicity of ABS.”
In addition to the benefits for the environment and health, DURA offers several improvements over standard ABS and PLA. According to ALGIX 3D, it is stronger, tougher, more flexible and less brittle. It has better heat resistance and layer adhesion than PLA and higher print resolution than ABS. It has a smoother surface with barely noticeable print layers, does not require a heated bed or chamber, and is also available in a food-safe formulation upon special order.
“We have a large number of 3D printers in our test lab and have achieved excellent results with our DURA product on all models,” said David Gentry, specialist in 3D quality control and polymer research at ALGIX. “We are very happy with our results and are excited to bring this filament, which is truly ‘Engineered to Perform ™’, to the 3D market.”
DURA can now be pre-ordered. For prices and further details, please email ALGIX 3D here. It is available in diameters of 1.75 mm and 2.85 mm, in 100 g spools or 500 g spools, and is available in various colors with corresponding earth names, including Cosmic Black, Benthic Blue, Boreal Green, Supernova Yellow, Magma Red and Icecap White. ALGIX, who entered the filament market last year with its algae-based PLA material, has built a solid reputation for efforts to make 3D printing healthier for people and the planet. While several companies have launched their own lines for bio-based PLA, ABS is still largely untouched, although it has the greatest room for improvement. We’ll see if DURA, coupled with the worrying recently published health studies, inspires other filament manufacturers to focus on what can be done to make the popular ABS a bit friendlier. Discuss in the DURA 3D Printing Filament forum on 3DPB.com.