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Material of the Month: PC-ABS

February 3, 2020 News

ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) and PC (Polycarbonate) are two of the most common plastics in products all around us.  The combination of these plastics, known as PC-ABS, gives you the best of both worlds: the flexibility of ABS and the heat resistance and impact strength of PC.  This makes PC-ABS a widely used plastic across a variety of industries including medical, aerospace, and automotive.

PC-ABS is also a popular material choice for additive manufacturing, not only for prototyping PC-ABS production parts, but the combination of flexibility, heat resistance, and impact strength makes it a suitable option for manufacturing applications. Where PC can be more brittle and crack under impact, PC-ABS can survive repeated impact all while being more heat-resistant than ABS.  

While Stratasys continues to innovate with more advanced materials excellent for manufacturing tooling and end-use parts (e.g, PEKK, Nylon 12CF), I believe PC-ABS is still a viable option for many applications that tends to be forgotten.

Before Nylon was introduced to FDM, PC-ABS was the go-to choice for high-strength applications that didn’t require ULTEM. Whereas Nylon has more flexibility, PC-ABS is rigid enough with a small amount of flexibilit, allowing you to print large flat parts without worrying about curling or warping.

PC-ABS is available on the Stratasys F370 and all Fortus Systems and falls on the lower end of the FDM materials price spectrum. The material also boasts one of the widest ranges of resolution for any higher-performing material (.005”, .007”, .010”, and .013” slice height), making PC-ABS great for parts with small features that require finer resolutions.  In addition, PC-ABS has the reputation of having some of the best aesthetics among FDM materials, making it also great for larger parts that need strength but still require a nice surface finish.

Cost of FDM Materials

Another desirable benefit of PC-ABS is that it utilizes soluble support, enabling greater freedom of design. Machine and support pairings are listed below.  If you are having a difficult time with any SR-20 material, newer systems use much less brittle soluble supports (SR-110, QSR) which are easier to remove by hand if needed.

  • Fortus 360/400: SR-20 Soluble Support 
  • Fortus 380/450: SR-110 Soluble Support
  • Fortus 900/F900: SR-20 or SR-110 Soluble Support
  • F370: QSR (SR-35) Soluble Support

AdvancedTek customer Novatech Engineering, located in Willmar, MN, found success in using Stratasys PC-ABS for end-use parts in their daily operations. The combination of heat resistance, impact strength, and nice surface finish made PC-ABS a great material choice for their complex holding fixtures that need to withstand repeated forces daily.  For the full Novatech Engineering story, click here

Novatech Engineering PC-ABS end-use parts

Novatech Engineering PC-ABS end-use parts

At the end of the day, good mechanical and thermal performance combined with the wide system availability in fine layer slices make PC-ABS a fantastic material for a variety of applications on Stratasys FDM printers.

If you’d like to learn more about PC-ABS please contact your AdvancedTek rep or email us at sales@advancedtek.com. If you would like to order PC-ABS, please visit our Order Supplies page.

David Kadlec, AdvancedTek Application Engineer

Posted by Heather Adams