Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene or ABS, as it commonly referred to, is a widely used thermoplastic throughout the industry. ABS material comes in the form of a filament and is processed in Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) technology. ABS material is white in color but also comes in varied filament color options.

abs material - ABS prototype for visual testing

ABS prototype for visual testing

Since ABS plastic parts are fabricated layer by layer in 3D Printing, the layer marks are distinctly visible on the surface, and the parts have a rough surface finish. The ABS material properties such as rough surface finish and distinct layer marks have more to do with Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF), in general, than the ABS material under consideration. The layer marks can be mitigated by opting for a finer layer thickness setting.

abs material - Distinct layers marks on ABS part

Distinct layers marks on ABS part

Support structure generation is an inherent quality associated with FFF technology. Hence, ABS parts have support structures generated under the overhanging and protruding features. Therefore, although complex and intricate structures can be fabricated in ABS material, the part quality and surface finish gets be hampered as the support structure removal leaves burr marks on the surface. The part can be later sanded to achieve a comparatively better surface finish. But in complex geometries it becomes difficult to polish the part in hard-to-reach places, thereby leading to a gradient in the surface finish. This surface gradient accentuates when the parts are painted. Parts from ABS material can be post-processed to give them any desired color. Painting usually adds a layer thickness of 100–200µm.

abs material - Post-processed part in ABS material

Post-processed part in ABS material

ABS parts are cost-effective and are usually used in applications requiring form testing, and for moderately functional prototypes requiring decent strength without undergoing extreme mechanical loading. The strength/hollowness of ABS parts can be varied by changing the infill percentage. The accuracy of ABS parts is slightly poor owing to the filament deposition technology as compared to its SLS and SLA counterparts.


Honeycomb structures to make the models hollow
Filament comes in a variety of colors


Rough surface finish
Support structure generation
Post-processing generally required for better output.


Prototypes for Form and visual testing
Cost-effective prototypes
Concept models