ce-logo-web-headerThe engineers over at CADD Edge probably loved the science fair as kids — and each of them was probably quite a force to contend with, if their latest idea is any indication.

In a creative project pitting Stratasys’ new ASA against ABS filament, the Stratasys products and materials resellers devised an experiment over the winter to see how the materials hold up against one another, centered in the brutality of what looks to be one of mother nature’s toughest winters yet.StratasysLogoWithTagline_CMYK_highres

As the wind and snow continue to fall and pile up over a very wintry season making daily news headlines, two little birdhouses are grappling with the cold in a bitter battle to see which is stronger, just outside the CADD Edge headquarters, as everyone keeps a watchful eye from the warmth inside. In a preliminary contest, CADD Edge employees were polled as to which birdhouse they thought had better aesthetic quality, with nearly every vote (except one) going to the ASA birdhouse.

Developed by Stratasys for FDM 3D printing technology, ASA is a thermoplastic available in ten colors, meant to offer superior durability in 3D printed prototypes for everything from hardware items like brackets to automotive parts. Stratasys expects that ASA may exceed ABS in use for those 3D printing with Fortus 360mc, 380mc, 400mc, 450mc, and 900mc 3D Production Systems. The new material matches ABS if not outright exceeding it — and the birdhouse experiment will be one small testament to this.

With better mechanical properties than ABS, along with some altogether unique qualities, it is expected that in time ASA will prove itself to be the better material. Due to its superior UV stability, ASA is meant for outdoor use, and offers color-fastness. It’s meant not only to be stronger than ABS but to look better as well.

Birdhouse-at-VotingObviously, there’s no better way to figure out how the new material is going to stand up than doing a real-world test, and the engineers at CADD Edge were ready and willing, putting their New England winter elements to good use. Designed in SOLIDWORKS, the two 3D printed birdhouses feature thick walls, fine details such as wording, and shingles on the roof. Mounted prominently, they will be able to measure its tensile strength throughout the winter, as well as into the spring when birds may come to nest, adding additional duress to the houses, which can be tested.

The engineers will look for:

  • Color fading
  • Noticeable wear and tear
  • Sagging
  • Nesting, leading to further stress on houses

With aesthetics being polled before and after, testing for which material has the better look overall will be completed as well. As the folks at CADD Edge continue to keep us posted on the competition, we will let you know what happens as spring — and flocks of nesting birds — approach.

Tell us what you think about the new Stratasys filament, as well as the birdhouse competition in the ASA Material against ABS forum thread over at 3DPB.com.

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