ABS, which has the chemical formula (C8H8)x, (C4H6)y, and (C3H3N)z, is a popular thermoplastic polymer. Around 105 °C (221 °F) is the temperature at which it transitions to glass.  Since ABS is amorphous, it lacks a proper melting point.

Styrene and acrylonitrile are polymerized with polybutadiene to create ABS, a terpolymer. The ratios might range from 5% to 30% butadiene, 40% to 60% styrene, and 15% to 35% acrylonitrile. As a result, a lengthy polybutadiene chain is crisscrossed by shorter poly chains (styrene-co-acrylonitrile). As polar nitrile groups from nearby chains are attracted to one another and bind the chains together, ABS is more durable than pure polystyrene. The heat deflection temperature is raised while the acrylonitrile also contributes to chemical resistance, fatigue resistance, hardness, and stiffness.

Styrene imparts to the plastic hardness, stiffness, and better processing ease in addition to a lustrous, impermeable surface. The rubber-like material polybutadiene offers heat resistance and stiffness at the expense of toughness and flexibility at low temperatures.  Because of how its mechanical characteristics change with temperature, ABS may be utilized in the majority of applications between 20 and 80 °C (4 and 176 °F). Rubber toughening, which involves dispersing tiny elastomer particles throughout the hard matrix, produces the qualities.          

Monomers in ABS polymer  ABS polymer grains

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As compared to other popular polymers:

  •     ABS offers advantageous mechanical qualities including impact resistance, toughness, and stiffness. To increase impact resistance, toughness, and heat resistance, several changes can be performed. Although this affects other qualities, raising the quantities of polybutadiene in ratio to styrene and acrylonitrile might increase the impact resistance.               Lower temperatures do not cause an abrupt loss in impact resistance. At small weights, stability under load is good. Hence, ABS may be manufactured in various grades by varying the ratios of its constituent parts. ABS for extrusion and ABS for injection moulding, followed by high and medium impact resistance, may be divided into two main types. Generally speaking, ABS would be beneficial in a temperature range of 4 to 176 °F or 20 to 80 °C.
  •     Aqueous acids, alkalis, concentrated hydrochloric and phosphoric acids, as well as animal, vegetable, and mineral oils do not harm ABS polymers, but glacial acetic acid, carbon tetrachloride, and aromatic hydrocarbons can cause swelling.
  •     Concentrated sulfuric and nitric acids can also attack ABS polymers. They are soluble in chloroform, ethylene dichloride, esters, and ketones (like acetone).
  •     Moreover, they have low resistance to alcohols, aldehydes, and chlorinated solvents.
  •     ABS polymers have electrical characteristics that are reasonably consistent throughout a wide range of frequencies, despite the fact that they are primarily utilized for mechanical applications.
  •     When temperatures are within safe operating ranges, the effects of ambient humidity and temperature on these attributes are minimal.


Styrene, butadiene, and acrylonitrile are the building blocks of ABS. Styrene monomer is created by dehydrogenating ethyl benzene, a hydrocarbon produced by the reaction of ethylene and benzene, while acrylic nitrile is a synthetic monomer created from propylene and ammonia, butadiene is a petroleum hydrocarbon obtained from the C4 fraction of steam cracking, and butadiene is a petroleum hydrocarbon. The industrial manufacturing of 1 kilogramme (2.2 lb) of ABS resin, which is sourced from natural gas and petroleum, requires an average of 95.34 MJ (26.48 kWh) in Europe, according to the European plastics trade group Plastics Europe.


Although ABS is produced in a number of grades, machine grade ABS is advised for precision machining ABS structural components. Machine Grade ABS is easily manufactured by common machining processes including; turning, drilling, milling, and sawing. ABS may be chemically attached to other polymers even to itself.


The Borg-Warner Company brought ABS to the market in 1954 after receiving a patent for it in 1948.

    As ABS is lightweight and can be extruded and injection moulded, it is beneficial in the production of items like drain-waste-vent (DWV) pipe systems.

     ABS is frequently used to make musical instruments including recorders, plastic oboes and clarinets, piano motions, and keyboard keycaps.

    Golf club heads (due to its good shock absorption), automotive bumper bars, binoculars, inhalers, monoculars, nebulizers, non-absorbable sutures, tendon prostheses, drug delivery systems, tracheal tubes, enclosures for electrical and electronic assemblies (such as computer cases), protective headgear, whitewater canoes, buffer edging for furniture and joinery panels, luggage and protective carrying cases, pen housings, and other items.

     A popular use is toys, such as Kre-O and LEGO (Lego bricks have been produced from ABS since 1958).

    The primary uses of ABS are in household and consumer items.

    Some tattoo inks contain a colourant made from ABS plastic that has been crushed down to an average diameter of less than 1 micrometre.

3D modelling:

ABS plastic, which can be extruded into a filament and is inexpensive, strong, stable, and versatile, is a material frequently used in 3D printers (sanding, painting, gluing, filling and chemical smoothing). ABS is known to distort when used in a 3D printer because of shrinkage that takes place while the printing process cools. Printing inside an enclosure on a hot print surface, using an adhesive like glue or hairspray to make sure the first layer of the print is firmly adhered to the print surface, or printing with a brim or raft at the base of the print can all assist prevent shrinkage. Only FFF/FDM 3D printers can melt plastic, hence ABS is the sole material utilized in these machines.

ABS-ESD (electrostatic discharge) and ABS-FR (fire resistant) are specific types of ABS filaments that are utilized in the fabrication of refractory prefabricated parts and electrostatically sensitive components, respectively.

Humans are at risk:

Under typical use and polymer production settings:

    ABS is resistant to degradation with carcinogen exposure substantially below workplace exposure guidelines.

     Nevertheless, ABS can break down into its component parts, butadiene (which is carcinogenic to people), acrylonitrile (which may be carcinogenic to humans), and styrene, at temperatures at or above 400 °C (750 °F) (reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen).

    At lower temperatures, ultrafine particles (UFPs) may be formed (such as in 3D Printing). As UFPs have been associated with negative health consequences, some of which may occur from tissue blockage in the kidneys, lungs, and intestines caused by a buildup of UFPs, concerns have been raised over airborne UFP concentrations created during 3D printing with ABS.

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