Whatever your preference may be in terms of 3D printing materials, it’s hard to ignore the fact that ABS is something of a problem child in the filament family. It has several things going for it compared to PLA: it’s harder and tougher, less prone to warping, and more resistant to heat. But when it comes to safety, for humans and for the environment, ABS is a bit dicey. That nasty smell the filament gives off when printing isn’t just an annoyance; recent studies have shown that those noxious fumes are emitting known carcinogens. It can’t be used to make anything that will come into contact with food, and even without the health hazards, the petroleum-based ABS is more damaging to the environment than PLA, which is generally made from biodegradable materials.
So what’s the ABS fan to do? While there are hundreds – maybe thousands – of varieties of PLA, many boasting safety and eco-friendliness even beyond standard PLA, ABS is harder to play around with. But you may recall that a month ago, filament manufacturer ALGIX 3D announced that they would soon be releasing a new ABS alternative called DURA. As of today, DURA is now on the market, and, as promised, it’s less toxic, more sustainable, and better-performing than standard ABS.
“At ALGIX 3D, we test all of the materials that we produce and analyze the fumes released during printing,” said Ashton Zeller, ALGIX 3D Director of Research and Development. “We are proud to report that DURA is much safer for the environment and for the user than ABS.”
DURA was subjected to gas chromatography-mass spectometry (GCMS) testing by ALGIX, at which point it was determined that the material has lower toxicity and reduced volatile generation than ABS. It’s also much more environmentally-friendly, in keeping with ALGIX 3D’s sustainable principles; DURA is made from majority sustainable materials and is compostable.
“There has been great response from the industry 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 from our sustainability platform and comes at a great time for the market due to the recent attention surrounding the toxicity of ABS.”
Beyond its environmental and health benefits, DURA has several improvements over standard ABS and PLA. According to ALGIX 3D, it’s stronger, tougher, more flexible and less brittle. It has better heat resistance and layer adhesion than PLA, and it’s capable of higher print resolution than ABS. It has a smoother finish with barely visible print layers, does not require a heated bed or heated chamber, and it’s also available in a food-safe formulation by special order.
“We have a wide variety of 3D printers in our test lab and have had great results on all models with our DURA product,” said David Gentry, ALGIX 3D Quality Control and Polymer Research Specialist. “We are quite happy with our results and are excited to bring this filament that truly is ‘Engineered to Perform™’ to the 3D market.”
DURA is now available for pre-order; pricing and other details can be obtained by emailing ALGIX 3D here. It’s available in 1.75mm and 2.85mm diameter, in 100g coils or 500g spools, and it comes in a variety of appropriately earthily named colors including Cosmic Black, Benthic Blue, Boreal Green, Supernova Yellow, Magma Red, and Icecap White. ALGIX, which entered the filament market last year with their algae-based PLA material, has gained a great reputation for their efforts to make 3D printing healthier for people and the planet. While several companies have introduced their own lines of bio-based PLA, ABS is still largely untouched, although it has the most room for improvement. We’ll see if DURA, in conjunction with the worrisome, recently-released health studies, inspires other filament manufacturers to start focusing their attention on what can be done to make the popular ABS a bit friendlier. Discuss in the DURA 3D Printing Filament forum over at 3DPB.com.