ABS is one of the original engineering thermoplastics. A classic all-rounder with a good blend of performance and also aesthetic properties.
”We’ve found Hardie Polymers to be a supplier we’ve come to rely on more and more in recent years. It’s often difficult to find an alternative source for particular grades, yet Hardies seem to have such a network of connections they can obtain almost any material. They’ve also proved extremely useful in sourcing high quality, made to order compounds or materials to meet specific criteria.
Hardie Polymers are more often than not our first choice in sourcing materials as we know it’s very likely the company will be able to help, and that the approachable, friendly staff will make getting that help easy.
I could have gone on at greater length about what an asset to the company your staff (particularly Isy) are, as they really do make the whole ‘Hardies experience’ a pleasant one.”
Glossbrook Engineering, Bathgate, West Lothian
|ABS is hard and reasonably tough (even at low temperatures); easily processed, giving good gloss, good surface appearance and scuff resistance.
ABS can be electroplated, painted and is easily bonded by heat welding processes or by adhesives. ABS has a low mould shrinkage and low warpage.
|Poor resistance to certain solvents; poor UV resistance; prone to mechanical fatigue and has poor bearing properties (high friction and high wear);
Heat distortion temperatures (short term) are up to and over 100°C but the continuous use temperature is limited to 70°C.
Burns freely with a smoky flame.
In general ABS materials have good impact resistance, softening points as high as, or higher than, polystyrene and produce mouldings with very good surface appearance and ‘mark resistance’. Resistance to oil and grease is adequate for many applications.
The poor resistance to atmospheric oxidation takes the form of yellowing and embrittlement but ABS can be protected using stabiliser additives, painting or capping sheet with a clear layer of acrylic.
Being a two-phase system like HIPS, transparency is low and most grades are opaque. It is possible to produce transparent grades of ABS but their impact strength is greatly reduced.
Low impact grades: telecommunication applications, domestic appliances e.g. vacuum cleaners
Medium impact grades: garden equipment
High impact grades: pipe, lawnmower housings
High heat grades: automotive parts, washing machine parts
By balancing the three main repeat units (styrene, butadiene and acrylonitrile) and varying the ratio of rigid phase to rubbery phase it is possible to produce a very wide range of grades of ABS. Increasing the rubbery content gives improved impact resistance. Increasing the acrylonitrile content gives better chemical resistance.
Replacing the styrene by alpha-methyl- styrene increases the heat distortion temperature. The melt flow properties are controlled by varying the molecular sizes of the components and by using lubricant additives.
To improve on the two main drawbacks of polystyrene, poor oil resistance and brittleness, it is possible to combine the advantages of the improved chemical resistance of SAN and the effect of rubber modification of HIPS.
ABS can be considered as a blend of small rubbery particles in a continuous rigid phase of styrene-acrylonitrile copolymer (SAN). To match the chemical resistance of the SAN, the rubbery particles are usually of an oil resistant elastomer, butadiene-acrylonitrile rubber (NBR).
Highly flammable. Burns with a bright yellow and smoky flame and gives off a sweet styrene odour.
Density – 1.06-1.19 g/cm ³
Pre-Drying – 3 hours at 80°C in a dehumidifying hot air drier
Melt temperature – 220-250°C
Mould Temperature – 40-80°C
Shrinkage – 0.4-0.7%
Major Trade names and their manufacturers
Korea Kumho Petrochemical Co., Ltd. Kumho
L G Chem Ltd. – LG
INEOS – Lustran
CHIMEI – Polylac
A.Schulman – Ronfalin
INEOS Styrolution – Terluran
TRINSEO – Magnum
Hardie Polymers can help source grades from all of the above manufacturers
One of the original ABS grades was Cycolac. In 1961 Anchor Chemicals formed a Joint Venture with Marbon Chemical of the USA to establish a plant at Grangemouth to make Marbon Cycolac ABS.
ABS was one of the earliest engineering polymers available and started being used in a huge number of applications such as telephones and business machines. Between 1961 and 1967, global sales for Cycolac jumped 350%, cornering half the market in ABS resins.
Hardie Polymers were closely involved in the 1960’s with the sale of Cycolac to Hoover for their vacuum cleaners which were manufactured in Cambuslang near Glasgow and also to NCR in Dundee for their early cash register machines.
More about ABS Plastics
Articles by Dr Charlie Geddes
Our longstanding partnerships allow us to specialise in sourcing and compounding most grades of engineering polymers. All brand names listed are trademarks of the manufacturers and we are not an authorised distributor for these manufacturers. We only supply prime grades in original packaging with the manufacturers documentation.
® – Trademarks owned or used by the producers.
™ – Registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (status in the U.S. only, registration status in other geographies may be different)