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PLA or ABS

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I have a Replicator 2 printer at my new job and I'm trying to decide if we need to order filament. Right now, all the filament is PLA and the user manual specifically references PLA whenever it talks about filament. Does anyone know if this printer can use ABS as well, and if there is anything special that needs to be done to switch between the two?

Printing ABS normally requires a heated print platform which the Replicator 2 doesn't have. Without that, even small prints will warp as ABS contracts while cooling (a built-in feature of ABS that helps injection molding but messes with 3D printing).

There are heated print platform options but they are quite significant modifications to the printer and ABS is not nearly as forgiving as PLA.

I'd recommend that you stick with quality PLA for great results on your printer.

I have a heated build platform that isn't a modification to the printer itself at all; I power it from an old desktop PC power supply. It is placed on top of a smooth marble tile which I purchased at a local hardware store (they cut it to size for free). I find the latest Makerbot Desktop also allows you to switch the extruder fans off; that was the main source of warping when I first started printing ABS. The reason for using ABS is that the material is much stronger and resistant to warping under heat, and can be smoothed effectively with acetone vapor. For enclosure, I have cardboard on the sides and a plexi panel for the front, and a box over the top to keep out unwanted breezes. I might purchase an original Replicator 2X preformed top; the frames on the two printers are the same.

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We stick to PLA but I have been printing with Ninjaflex without issues as well - both semi-flex and the original Ninjaflex. I've also tried Laywood with relatively good results. Laybrick wasn't as good and I have concerns over long-term damage it would do the extruder nozzle due to its abrasiveness. I have tried using Taulman 618 Nylon but it wouldn't stick well to our original acrylic build platform with or without painters tape. I suppose I should try again now that we've upgraded to the glass build plate. Our original acrylic build plate was warped but only slightly so I was unable to prove to Makerbot that it was flawed to get a replacement so I just upgraded to the glass build plate. We're much happier now and using glue stick for adhesion - much easier to use and clean up afterwards. The Taulman suffered from water absorption too so you need to be careful to use a desiccant for storage - that's not the case with most of the other filaments I've used. The Taulman nylon just soaks up the moisture to the point where it blows steam bubbles when coming out of the hot-end, not conducive to nice prints.

Thanks for all the responses, guys. I don't think I'm up to the kinds of modifications needed to switch between the two. The other element here is that someone wants to donate another printer to the library and says it uses ABS. I was hoping we'd be able to keep things simple and order one type of filament that can be used by both printers. Now I'll need to see if his printer can handle PLA.

Any printer that can print using ABS should be able to print PLA. As far as I know, the only thing that makes ABS printers special is that they have a heated plate.You should stick with PLA because both of the printers that you mention are able to print it. The heated plate on the one that can print ABS can be turned off if you want. (However, heated plates help the filament stick better; no matter which kind. So turning the heated plate off wouldn't help all that much.) Hope this helps!

I retrofitted my Rep. 2 with a heated build plate, powered from an old PC power supply (12VDC for 110C and 5VDC for 50C). I have had some good builds with it (see my screwdriver handles). The key here is to switch off the extruder fan (can be done by editing the X3G file, I'm told); this does much to prevent peeling of the print. I just pop the extruder fan duct off when I print. I do cover it with a cardboard box while printing ABS to keep drafts out, and to allow it to retain a little heat. Keep in mind that you are likely compromising the factory warranty if you print with ABS plastic on the PLA printer.

You can certainly print in ABS on a Replicator 2 successfully as long as your parts are relatively small. Warping becomes an issue, but only with larger pieces. However, I really see no advantage to printing with ABS now that we have PETG for strength (and PETG prints just fine without a heated bed). In addition, ABS gives off fumes that are quite toxic.

Two things you need to successfully print ABS are a heated build plate and an enclosed environment. The Replicator 2 has neither of these and isn't really suited to printing ABS. I mean technically you can feed it through and run it with ABS standard settings, but you'll have trouble getting consistent prints. due to the aforementioned issues.

Give there's no overly significant difference between the two materials, stick with PLA.

Agreed use PLA to start with. Our Maker space uses ABS and we use PLA and the biggest difference I've found is that ABS is less rigid. Sometimes that's desirable but often it's not. The other thing, though, is that ABS is not water soluble while PLA will eventually rot if kept in constant contact with water. (It's basically corn starch turned into long polymer chains, while ABS is oil.)

The MakerBot Replicator 2 is only designed, out of the box, for PLA. The primary reason is that ABS will barely stick to an unheated build plate, so almost all prints will fail using that material. It is possible to buy after-market kits that replace the power supply and add a heated build plate (it also helps to enclose it to keep it warm), after which you can print ABS and some of the other more esoteric materials.