Hello people. I share a lot about polymers. Today I will share a comprehensive guide on ABS plastic. Let’s get started.
What is ABS Plastic? (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)
ABS plastic, which stands for Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, is a thermoplastic material that is utilized across multiple industries due to its remarkable properties. With its toughness, impact-resistance, and lightness, ABS plastic is easy to machine, mold, and fabricate. Its high strength, rigidity, dimensional stability, and resistance to chemicals, heat, and abrasion make it an ideal material for various applications, such as automotive parts, toys, household appliances, pipes, and fittings.
Additionally, ABS plastic is recyclable, offering manufacturers an eco-friendly option for their products.
ABS is made up of three monomers called Acrylonitrile, Butadiene, and Styrene.
Acrylonitrile: It is produced from propylene and ammonia. The element is responsible for the polymer’s high chemical resistance and heat stability.
Butadiene: It is released from ethylene production and steam crackers. The element is responsible for the ABS polymer’s toughness and impact strength.
Styrene: It is released when a modification is made in ethylbenzene. It contributes to the rigidity & processability of ABS plastic.
The thermoplastic became commercially available in the 1950s when the previous version was modified by adding the third monomer (Butadiene).
The addition of butadiene made it easy to process and increased its toughness significantly.
ABS is known for its rigidness, strength, and chemical resistance, with a density of approximately 1.05 grams per cubic centimeter (g/cm³). However, it is heavily affected by polar solvents.
ABS also has a high glass transition temperature of typically around 105°C to 110°C (221°F to 230°F). ABS Tg advantages include improved dimensional stability, heat resistance, and durability at higher temperatures.
How is ABS Material Made?
The most commonly used method to produce ABS is an emulsion (mixing multiple products that usually would not combine into a single product) or a continuous mass technique. ABS’s natural color is opaque ivory and is willingly colored using different pigments depending on the application.
ABS provides excellent processability compared to other thermoplastics. It doesn’t need fancy settings and can be smoothly processed in standard machinery.
Because of its low melting temperature, Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene can be processed in injection molding, blow molding, extrusion molding, and especially in 3D molding. The continuous mass technique I mentioned earlier is a patented process that is rarely used in particular applications. The emulsion method is widely used and is considered the best.
Key Properties of ABS
The polymer is an ideal choice for systemic applications. Let’s go through some of its most essential properties:
- Great impact resistance even at low temperatures
- Decent insulating properties
- High rigidness and strength
- Good mechanical strength with constant stability
- Good weldability
- Excellent surface brightness
- Good abrasion resistance
- Structurally sturdy
Below are the typical properties of ABS:
|Density||g mL-1||1.03 – 1.14|
|Coefficient of Thermal Expansion||cm / (cm °C)||2.0 – 10.3|
|Thermal Conductivity x 10-5||W / mK||0.17 – 0.23|
|Heat Deflection Temperature, 0.5 MPa||°C||88 – 107|
|Heat Deflection Temperature, 1.8 MPa||°C||71 – 103|
|Rockwell Hardness, R Scale||–||R102 – R104|
|Flexural Modulus||MPa||1550 – 2580|
|Flexural Strength, Yield||MPa||50 – 162|
|Tensile Strength, Yield at 23 C||MPa||28 – 120|
|Tensile Strength, Break at 23 C||MPa||–|
|Izod Notched||J / m||72|
|Dielectric Strength||V/mm x 104||1.4 – 3.1|
|Dielectric Constant @ 1 MHz||–||3.1 – 3.4|
|Dissipation Factor @ 1 MHz||n/a, x 10-4||80 – 90|
|Mold Shrinkage||%||0.002 – 0.007|
|Processing Temperature||°C||205 – 275|
|Continuous Service Temperature||°C||–|
|Water Absorption, 24 hr. Immersion||%||0.26 – 1.70|
Chemical Properties of ABS Plastic
- ABS plastic shows good resistance toward alkalis and diluted acids.
- Decent resistance to aliphatic hydrocarbons
- Meager resistance towards alcohols, hydrocarbons, halogenated Hydrocarbons
Why is ABS used so often?
Thanks to its supreme properties, ABS material is utilized in many products. The most commonly seen products are keyboard keys used in computers and laptops, toys, lego blocks, face guards, various components in automobiles, etc.
Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene has maximum resistance to corrosive chemicals and physical attacks, making it easy to machine. A low melting temperature makes it compatible with injection molding and 3D printing.
The material doesn’t make a big hole in your pocket, costing about $1.50 to 2.50 per pound.
Using ABS in high-heat scenarios is not advisable because of the low melting point.
Key Benefits & Limitations of ABS Plastic
|Low melting helps in easy usability for injection molding 3D printing.||
Meager solvent and fatigue resistance
|High tensile strength, corrosion resistance, and virtually smack-proof.||
Poor weathering resistance
|Excellent resistance to dilute acid and alkalis||
Ordinary grades burn easily and won’t extinguish on their own.
|Numerous applications with relatively low price||
Stress cracks are evident in the presence of some greases
|biocompatible and recyclable material.||
Poor resistance for solvents like ketones, esters, and aromatic
|Non-toxic and harmless||
Poor UV resistance without protection
As we compare both benefits and limitations, the positives outnumber the negatives. Certain disadvantages might become a small hurdle in production, but the overall quality and smoothness wouldn’t be affected significantly.
ABS Processing Conditions
Injection molding and extrusion molding are the two most common methods for ABS processing.
In some situations, determining whether to dry is needed is tricky. In case a vented cylinder is used, drying becomes a must.
For drying scenarios, 4 hours at 80°C is generally sufficient.
Signs of moisture are evident with stripes, streaks, or bubbles. If any of those factors are seen, pre-drying the mold is advisable.
Mold temperature – 40-70°C
Melt Temperature – 210-270°C
Injection Speed – Moderate to high
Material Injection Pressure: 50 – 100 MPa
Pre-Drying: 3 hours at 70-80°C
Extrusion temperature: 200 to 240°C
Screw Design: An L/D ratio of 25-30 is advisable
The Toxicity and Recycling of ABS
ABS plastic is a biocompatible and recyclable material with a recycling number #9. In addition, it is relatively harmless, and no signs of carcinogens in thermoplastic. To date, there hasn’t been a single incident recorded related to harm caused by ABS, meaning it’s safe for use.
Recycled ABS material is often blended with virgin material to produce parts without hurting the production quality.
However, ABS is considered not safe for medical implants.
Applications of ABS
ABS material comes with various applications in many industries supporting our day-to-day lifestyle.
- Electrical and Electronics Appliances
ABS plastic is one of the most suitable engineering plastic for automotive applications. Its lightweight and outstanding mechanical properties make it viable for manufacturing different automobile parts.
Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene parts keep the overall weight of an automobile in check. As the automobile industry is rapidly developing and transitioning to lightweight vehicles, ABS plastic will always be in demand.
Most importantly, the thermoplastics’ excellent impact resistance absorbs and redistributes the energy during an impact.
Here are a few products made up of ABS
- Steering wheel covers
- Dashboard components
- Door liners handle
- Instrument panels
- Pillar trim
- Seat belt components
Electrical and Electronic Applications
ABS plastic is often chosen for indoor electrical and electrical appliances that wouldn’t come in contact with the sun. Electrical enclosures and computer keyboards are a few of the leading applications.
ABS material is used extensively in appliances like vacuum cleaners, food processors, shavers, refrigerator liners, appliance control panels, toasters, irons, etc.
Apart from that, ABS is also used in manufacturing hard hats, helmets, and plastic toys.
The Future of ABS Plastic
According to a study by Forbes business insights, the ABS market in 2019 was USD 25.135 Billion and is projected to reach USD 42.809 Billion by 2027.
However, as the study was conducted before, the pandemic hit us hard and annihilated the global economy.
For some time, the demand will be timid for ABS material and the entire plastics processing industry.
Asia-Pacific is the market leader in ABS processing and will continue to dominate for a long time. However, the governments of different Asian countries like China, India, Vietnam, and Bangladesh are embracing manufacturing-based reforms to grow to manufacture and involve plastic manufacturing.
The demand for EVs and lightweight automobiles to reduce carbon emissions and become more consumer-friendly will help ABS and other thermoplastics gain significant market share.
Is ABS plastic good quality?
ABS is a fantastic choice for the manufacturer as it is inexpensive and comes with good properties such as impact and corrosion resistance. It is also harmless to humans as it doesn’t contain any carcinogens.
Is abs better than PVC?
It ultimately depends on the applications, both of which have pros and cons. PVC is more flexible and but ABS is more robust and shock-resistant. ABS is better at handling severely cold temperatures but warps or unusually bends to direct sunlight.
Is ABS plastic safe for drinking water?
If ABS fumes are inhaled, they can harm your health; even the individual parts can also harm your health. However, using ABS products for storing water and food is unlikely to break down or leach anything into food, water, and soil.
How can you tell if plastic is ABS?
Some standard features to look after when distinguishing ABS plastics are blue edges around the yellow flame when burned, a pungent smell, a powerful acrid smell, and a stinging smell irritating your nose.
What is the difference between polycarbonate and ABS plastic?
Both ABS and polycarbonate are very commonly used thermoplastics and are known for their various applications. But, as the difference goes, polycarbonate is more flexible than ABS and has better impact resistance and tensile strength. As a result, PC products are more quality-driven than ABS, even in similar applications.
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ABS plastic has proven to be a valuable material in various industries due to its excellent mechanical properties, ease of fabrication, and resistance to chemicals, heat, and abrasion. Its high impact resistance and toughness make it ideal for applications requiring durability and strength, such as automotive parts and household appliances.
Moreover, ABS plastic is recyclable, making it an eco-friendly option for manufacturers. Despite its advantages, ABS plastic has some limitations, such as its relatively low melting point and susceptibility to UV radiation.
Overall, ABS plastic remains popular for manufacturers seeking a cost-effective, durable, and versatile product material.
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