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The War on 3D Printed ABS

It was the first plastic used in personal 3D printers, but are ABS's days coming to an end? 
The once popular plastic seems to be supplanted by PLA. In fact during the recent 3D Printshow in London we encountered many 3D printer manufacturers who simply dismissed ABS as something they didn't want to support any more. "Who prints in that?"
Why is this so? There are some reasons: 
  • PLA doesn't warp. Much. ABS, on the other hand, is terribly difficult to print with unless you have a heated chamber (currently under patent by Stratasys)
  • PLA is a biodegradable substance that disappears over time. You won't find much in a landfill
  • PLA is made from renewable sources: typically corn starch is used to create the plastic, not oil
PLA also comes in much cooler colors. 
However, one key advantage of ABS is that it is a stronger material capable of withstanding more stress than PLA. In other words, if you're printing gears for a machine, for example, you probably want ABS instead of PLA. 
So it's PLA. Until something else shows up. 


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