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Plastics & Elastomers

Comprehensive Guide on Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) is an impact-resistant engineering thermoplastic. It is an amorphous polymer. It is made of three monomers: acrylonitrile, butadiene, and styrene. It is a preferred choice for structural applications due to its physical properties. These properties include high rigidity, resistance to impact, abrasion, and strain. Used in electronic housings, auto parts, consumer products, pipe fittings, and lego toys.

Get detailed technical information about ABS polymer. Know more about its key properties, applications, processing conditions, and much more.

Overview

ABS – What does it stand for?

ABS – What does it stand for?

ABS stands for Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene. It is an impact-resistant engineering thermoplastic. It has an amorphous polymer. ABS is made up of three monomers: acrylonitrile, butadiene, and styrene:
  • Acrylonitrile: It is a synthetic monomer. It is produced from propylene and ammonia. This component contributes to the chemical resistance & heat stability of ABS.
  • Butadiene: It is produced as a by-product of ethylene production from steam crackers. This component delivers toughness & impact strength to ABS polymer.
  • Styrene: It is manufactured by dehydrogenation of ethyl benzene. It provides rigidity & processability to ABS plastic.

Monomers of ABS Polymers


How ABS is made?

How ABS is made?

ABS is produced by emulsion or continuous mass technique. The chemical formula of Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene is (C8H8·C4H6·C3H3N)n. The natural material is an opaque ivory color. It is readily colored with pigments or dyes.

Molecular Structure of Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene

Molecular Structure of Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene


What are the properties of ABS?

What are the properties of ABS?

ABS is a strong and durable polymer. It is a chemically resistant resin. It gets easily attacked by polar solvents. It offers greater impact properties and slightly higher heat distortion temperature than HIPS.

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene has a broad processing window. It can be processed on most standard machinery. It can be injection-molded, blow-molded, or extruded. It has a low melting temperature making it suitable for processing by 3D printing on an FDM machine.

ABS falls between standard resins (PVC, polyethylene, polystyrene, etc.) and engineering resins (acrylic, nylon acetal, etc.). It often meets the property requirements at a reasonable price-cost effectiveness. It is an ideal material of choice for various structural applications. This is because of its several physical properties such as:

  • High rigidity, good weldability, and insulating properties
  • Good impact resistance, even at low temperatures
  • Good abrasion and strain resistance
  • High dimensional stability (Mechanically strong and stable over time)
  • High surface brightness and excellent surface aspect

ABS shows excellent mechanical properties. It is hard and tough in nature and thus delivers good impact strength. It offers a high degree of surface quality. Apart from these characteristics, Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene exhibits good electrical insulating properties.


Chemical Properties of ABS


  • Very good resistance to diluted acid and alkalis
  • Moderate resistance to aliphatic hydrocarbons
  • Poor resistance to aromatic hydrocarbons, halogenated hydrocarbons and alcohols


Mechanical Properties of ABS


Elongation at Break 10 - 50 %
Elongation at Yield 1.7 - 6 %
Flexibility (Flexural Modulus) 1.6 - 2.4 GPa
Hardness Shore D 100
Stiffness (Flexural Modulus) 1.6 - 2.4 GPa
Strength at Break (Tensile) 29.8 - 43 MPa
Strength at Yield (Tensile) 29.6 - 48 MPa
Toughness (Notched Izod Impact at Room Temperature) 200 - 215 J/m
Toughness at Low Temperature (Notched Izod Impact at Low Temperature) 20 - 160 J/m
Young Modulus 1.79 - 3.2 GPa


Electrical Properties of ABS


Arc Resistance 60 - 120 sec
Dielectric Constant 2.7 - 3.2
Dielectric Strength 15.7 - 34 kV/mm
Dissipation Factor 50 - 190 x 10-4
Volume Resistivity 14 - 16 x 1015 Ohm.cm

What are the limitations of ABS?

What are the limitations of ABS?

  • Poor weathering resistance
  • Ordinary grades burn easily and continue to burn once the flame is removed
  • Scratches easily
  • Poor solvent resistance, particularly aromatic, ketones and esters
  • Can suffer from stress cracking in the presence of some greases
  • Low dielectric strength
  • Low continuous service temperature


What happens when ABS blends with thermoplastics?

What happens when ABS blends with thermoplastics?

ABS can be blended or alloyed with other polymers to overcome some of these limitations. These include PA, PBT, and PC, to name a few. This blending with polymers further increases the range of properties available such as mechanical, thermal... & more.

ABS/PC is an abbreviated form used for acrylonitrile butadiene styrene/polycarbonate blend. It is a thermoplastic alloy made up of polycarbonate and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene. Both of these polymers are widely used on their own. They have very specific properties and also drawbacks of their own.

However, when alloyed together they form one of the most widely used industrial amorphous thermoplastics with:

  • Enhanced processability
  • Good flow characteristics, strength, stiffness, and
  • Good heat resistivity

Furthermore, additives can be added to the blend to improve its properties like fire safety, UV, and oxidation stability. Reinforcing agents such as glass fibers and mineral fillers are added to improve the blend's strength and rigidity.

ABS/PC blends are commonly used in commercial and industrial applications. Examples include automotive, electronics, telecommunication, etc. that require hard yet lightweight, heat-resistant, and easily processed materials.

Get instant access to commercially available ABS blends below:

  1. ABS/Polyamide Blends – View Product Range
  2. ABS/PBT Blends – View Product Range
  3. ABS/PMMA Blends – View Product Range
  4. ABS, other alloys – View Product Range


Key Properties

Key Properties

Property ABS  PLASTIC
Chemical Resistance
Acetone @ 100%, 20°C Non satisfactory
Ammonium hydroxide @ 30%, 20°C Limited
Ammonium hydroxide @ diluted, 20°C Satisfactory
Benzene @ 100%, 20°C Non satisfactory
Butylacetate @ 100%, 20°C Non satisfactory
Butylacetate @ 100%, 60°C Non satisfactory
Chloroform @ 20°C Non satisfactory
Dioctylphthalate @100%, 100°C Non satisfactory
Dioctylphthalate @100%, 20°C Non satisfactory
Dioctylphthalate @100%, 60°C Non satisfactory
Ethanol @ 96%, 20°C Limited
Ethyleneglycol (Ethane diol) @ 100%, 20°C Satisfactory
Ethyleneglycol (Ethane diol) @ 100%, 50°C Satisfactory
Glycerol @ 100%, 20°C Satisfactory
Hydrogen peroxide @ 3%, 20°C Satisfactory
Hydrogen peroxide @ 30%, 60°C Non satisfactory
Kerosene @ 20°C Satisfactory
Methanol @ 100%, 20°C Limited
Methylethyl ketone @ 100%, 50°C Non satisfactory
Mineral oil @ 20°C Satisfactory
Phenol @ 20°C Non satisfactory
Silicone oil @ 20°C Satisfactory
Sodium hydroxide @ 10%, 20°C Satisfactory
Sodium hypochlorite @ 20%, 20°C Satisfactory
Toluene @ 20°C Non satisfactory
Toluene @ 60°C Non satisfactory
Xylene @ 20°C Non satisfactory
Electrical
Arc Resistance, sec 60-120
Dielectric Constant 2.7-3.2
Dielectric Strength, kV/mm 15.7-34
Dissipation Factor x 10-4 50-90
Volume Resistivity x 1015, Ohm.cm 14-16
Mechanical
Elongation at Break, % 10-50
Elongation at Yield, % 1.7-6
Flexural Modulus, Gpa 1.6-2.4
Hardness Shore D 100
Strength at Break (Tensile), MPa 29.6-48
Strength at Yield (Tensile), MPa 29.6-48
Toughness at Low Temperature, J/m 20-160
Toughness, J/m 200-215
Young's Modulus, GPa 1.79-3.2
Optical
Gloss, % 40-96
Physical
Density, g/cm3 1.02-1.21
Gamma Radiation Resistance Good
Glass Transition Temperature, °C 90-102
Shrinkage, % 0.7-1.6
Sterilization Resistance (Repeated) Poor
UV Light Resistance Poor
Water Absorption 24 hours, % 0.5-1.8
Service Temperature
Ductile / Brittle Transition Temperature, °C -25--40
HDT @0.46 Mpa (67 psi), °C 68-100
HDT @1.8 Mpa (264 psi), °C 88-100
Max Continuous Service Temperature, °C 86-89
Min Continuous Service Temperature, °C 60-80
Thermal
Coefficient of Linear Thermal Expansion x 10-5, /°C 7-15
Fire Resistance (LOI), % 19
Flammability, UL94 HB
Thermal Insulation, W/m.K 0.13-0.19
How additives improve properties of ABS?

How additives improve properties of ABS?

ABS is readily modified in two ways:

  1. Firstly, by the addition of additives.
  2. Secondly, by varying the ratio of the three monomers Acrylonitrile, Butadiene, and Styrene.

Heat stabilizers, hydrolysis stabilizers, lubricants, UV stabilizers, etc. can be introduced in ABS. They are being used in non-reinforced and reinforced grades to increase specific material properties.

Hence, the grades available include:

  • High and medium impact,
  • High heat resistance, and
  • Electroplatable

Fire retardant grades can be obtained either by the inclusion of fire retardant additives or by blending with PVC. ABS can be reinforced with fibers, fillers, and minerals to increase the:

  • Stiffness, 
  • Impact resistance, and
  • Dimensional stability

It can lead to a loss of transparency and yield strength.

Learn how to avoid such compromises by increasing the impact resistance of your engineering polymers without compromising on other performance (modulus, yield strength…). Also, understand how to smartly select impact modifiers from the existing solutions (copolymers, blends, hard fillers...).


What are the processing conditions of ABS?

What are the processing conditions of ABS?

Acrylonitrile-butadiene Styrene (ABS) has a broad processing window. It can be processed on most standard machinery.

Injection Molding


  1. Pre-drying is not always needed for injection molding with a vented cylinder. In case drying is needed then 4 hours at 80°C is generally sufficient. Signs of moisture are stripes, streaks or bubbles in the molding and if any of these are seen then the material should be pre-dried.
  2. Melt temperature: 210-270°C
  3. Mold temperature: 40-70°C
  4. Material Injection Pressure: 50 - 100 MPa
  5. Injection Speed: Moderate - High

Get a complete list of ABS grades processed injection molding. View Product Range »


Extrusion


  1. Pre-Drying: 3 hours at 70-80°C
  2. Extrusion temperature: 210 to 240°C
  3. Screw Design: L/D ratio of 25-30 is recommended

Get a complete list of ABS grades processed extrusion. View Product Range »


ABS for 3D Printing

3D Printing


ABS is one of the most versatile materials available for 3D printing today. ABS comes in the form of a long filament wound around a spool. The 3D Printing process used with ABS is the FDM (Fusion Deposition Modelling) process. The material here is heated and squeezed through a fine nozzle to build your design in 250-micron layers.

Objects printed with ABS boast slightly higher strength, flexibility, and durability. It is a great material for prototyping and it can be easily machined, sanded, glued, and painted.

One of the main competitors of 3D Printing ABS is PLA. Unlike ABS, PLA is a renewably derived plastic. It is therefore biodegradable whereas ABS is only biocompatible. However, like many plastic materials, ABS is recyclable.

Get a complete list of ABS grades processed 3D printing. View Product Range »


Is ABS recyclable?

Is ABS recyclable?

ABS Recycling Code 9 ABS plastic is a biocompatible and recyclable material. It does not have its own plastic number. Products made with ABS use recycling number #9. ABS is 100% recyclable. Recycled ABS can be blended with virgin material to produce products at lower cost while preserving high quality.


Is ABS toxic?

Is ABS toxic?

ABS is considered non-toxic and harmless. It doesn't have any known carcinogens. There are no known adverse health effects related to exposure to its exposure. It is stable and non-leaching.
What are the commercially available ABS grades?

What are the commercially available ABS grades?

View a wide range of ABS polymers available in the market today, analyze technical data of each product, get technical assistance or request samples.

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1 Comments on "Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene: Detailed Information About ABS and its Features"
Tomasz G Aug 31, 2021
"Molecular Structure of Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene" lacks double bonds in butadiene-derived chains

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