What Is ABS Plastic?

Plastics play a prominent role in many manufacturing processes. Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) is one of the most widely used plastics for industrial applications. Since its initial widespread use in the automotive industry in the 1960s, ABS plastic has become a preferred material for many products we use every day.


ABS Plastic: An Overview

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene is a thermoplastic polymer known for its strength, structural stability and excellent thermal, corrosion and abrasion resistance. The toughness of this plastic delivers an impact resistance that is superior to many other manufacturing plastics. Although ABS is an opaque material, the styrene component gives it a shiny appearance.


Another valuable property is that ABS will not burn. Instead, it liquefies upon reaching its melting point, which is ideal for injection molding applications. It’s also possible to cool and reheat ABS without causing significant degradation.


Get the latest industry information and stay up to date with plating and metal finishing solutions.
Sign Up for our Newsletter


How Is ABS Made?

Emulsion is the most common process for producing synthetic ABS material. This technique involves the combination of a series of small molecules called monomers. The monomers are immersed in a chemical solution that creates a bonding action known as polymerization. Another method for producing ABS is continuous mass polymerization. With this process, the combination of the monomers occurs in multiple stages.


Because ABS is a recyclable thermoplastic, it’s possible to produce a new batch from used material. This technique provides a cost-effective option that also helps reduce manufacturing waste.


Why Is ABS Used?

Durability, structural stability and excellent corrosion, impact, chemical and wear resistance make ABS a leading choice among other plastic manufacturing materials. It’s also easy to paint and glue onto ABS, which enhances its versatility and value.


The rising cost of materials is a growing concern for manufacturers in many industries. ABS is relatively inexpensive, which is ideal for companies working within tight operating budgets. The ability to recycle ABS also helps businesses save money. From an environmental perspective, recycling assists companies in their mission to become more eco-friendly.


Applications of ABS Plastic

The useful properties, versatility and low cost of ABS make it well-suited for a variety of industrial and manufacturing applications. Products that typically use the material include automotive parts, medical devices, electrical assemblies, toys, small appliances and an assortment of household and consumer goods.


Plating ABS plastic is a widespread manufacturing practice that enhances its corrosion resistance and other properties and improves its aesthetic appeal. Common metals that work well for ABS electroplating include copper, nickel and gold. Plating onto ABS requires the application of a base coat, typically added via electroless plating, to promote adhesion.


Contact SPC to Learn More About Plating Onto ABS

SPC is one of the few metal finishing companies that has mastered ABS plating. With more than 90 years of industry experience, you can count on us to develop a customized process for your manufacturing operation. Contact us for more information and a no-obligation quote today.