Plastic Thermoforming & ABS: 5 Fast Facts About This Material

At Indepak, we use many different materials for our plastic thermoforming projects. One type of plastic we use is known as acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, or ABS. While many of our customers are familiar with plastics such as PET or PVC, they don’t always know a great deal about ABS, so we thought it would be worthwhile to share some facts about this thermoform plastic.

1. Each Letter Stands For A Monomer
In basic terms, a monomer is a molecule that is capable of bonding to other molecules in order to create a polymer. ABS is a polymer, and each of its monomers features properties that come together to form one tough plastic. Acrylonitrile, for instance, offers a high level of chemical resistance and ages well, while butadiene is tough and quite impact resistant. Styrene adds rigidity as well as an attractive glossy sheen. Mix these monomers together, and you’ve created a plastic thermoforming material suitable for many projects.

2. Your Kids Probably Love ABS
ABS often is used to create toys, most notably Lego blocks, which are some of the most popular toys on the planet. Many other toys also are crafted from this plastic. This material also is used to make items such as those plastic recorders young children play at school and other musical instruments, such as clarinets.

3. ABS Is Used In 3D Printers
The two most common types of filament used in 3D printing are PLA (polylactic acid) and ABS. ABS often is chosen because it is quite sturdy and durable. Typically, 3D projects made from ABS will last longer than those made from PLA. Additionally, once you’ve created something out of ABS, it doesn’t warp when exposed to heat as PLA might.

3. ABS Is Often Used To Make Parts
At Indepak, our focus might seem to be on the creation of custom packaging, but we also can create parts through plastic thermoforming. ABS is used to make parts, such as automotive parts, because it is highly impact resistant and offers high heat resistance. It also can be used to create protective helmets and highly protective cases for laptops and cellular phones. We can use ABS to create many items, such as parts, thermoform trays, point-of-purchase displays and more.

4. ABS Is Recyclable
ABS is 100% recyclable, although unlike PET or HDPE, ABS is not as widely accepted by curbside recycling programs, although that is starting to change. On the West Coast, most large metro area recycling programs accept ABS and we are seeing more and more cities adding this plastic to their list. ABS has a recycling code of 7, and several other plastics also are bunched together under the number 7 code.

While it might every recycling program accepts ABS, it is wise to keep in mind that products made from ABS tend to be used for much longer than products typically made using PET or HDPE. PET is used to make single use water bottles and food containers, while ABS is used to make items such as toys, golf clubs, luggage cases and other products that have a very long life.

ABS is a versatile, affordable material that can be used for many plastic thermoforming projects. If you are interested in a project using ABS or any other material, don’t hesitate to give us a call at any time. Our facility includes a wide range of thermoforming equipment, capable of processing ABS, HIPS, HDPE, PVC, PET, PETG and many other materials.

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