ABS is a copolymer of acrylonitrile, butadiene, and styrene. It is an amorphous thermoplastic which possesses properties that makes it suitable for use in a large number of application areas.
ABS is most commonly used in components of smartphones, computers, TVs, protective helmets, and household appliances. The material has excellent dimensional stability, which makes it suitable for use in covers and casings of different kinds, e.g. for household appliances, white goods, and vacuum cleaners. It is also very common for ABS to be used to make toys, and in automotive industry applications.
There are many different variants of ABS, and its properties depend on the blend of acrylonitrile and butadiene rubber used. Acrylonitrile improves the material’s strength and resistance to different kinds of chemical, for example, and makes it more resistant to stress cracking than other types of plastic. The butadiene rubber content influences impact resistance, glass-transition temperature, and UV resistance. The higher the butadiene rubber content, the more likely the plastic is to yellow and age as a result of UV exposure. ABS is thus not suitable for use outdoors, and is instead better suited to products that are not exposed to UV light. This downside can, however, be ameliorated somewhat by adding carbon black or using ABS with lower butadiene content. It is also possible to coat components in order to add UV protection.
ABS is by nature pure white or light beige, but can be colored or have masterbatches added directly during the manufacturing process. Primary properties:
● Low weight
● High surface luster
● High rigidity and hardness
● Impact resistant at temperatures as low as -40°C
● Good dimensional stability and workability
● High scratch resistance
● Excellent electrical properties
● Glass-transition temperature of 105–115°C (varies depending on butadiene content)
Some less optimal properties:
● Poor UV resistance (yellows, ages, becomes brittle)
● Low resistance to solvents and hydrocarbons