what is acrylonitrile butadiene styrene made of

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) composition. In this section, we will dive into the material components that make up ABS, its manufacturing ingredients, and its chemical composition. Understanding the composition of ABS is crucial for manufacturers, engineers, and anyone interested in the properties and applications of this versatile thermoplastic polymer.

ABS is composed of three monomers: acrylonitrile, butadiene, and styrene. These monomers are combined in varying proportions to create different grades of ABS. The typical ranges for ABS composition are 15-35% acrylonitrile, 5-30% butadiene, and 40-60% styrene.

The resulting polymer structure of ABS consists of a long chain of polybutadiene crisscrossed with shorter chains of poly(styrene-co-acrylonitrile). The nitrile groups from neighboring chains bind together, contributing to the strength of ABS. The acrylonitrile component provides chemical resistance, fatigue resistance, hardness, and rigidity. The styrene component imparts ABS with a shiny, impervious surface. The presence of butadiene, a rubbery substance, adds toughness and ductility to ABS, although it may reduce heat resistance and rigidity.

Properties of ABS

ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) is a thermoplastic polymer that possesses a range of properties that make it highly desirable for numerous applications. Its mechanical properties, thermal properties, and chemical resistance contribute to its versatility and effectiveness in various industries.

Mechanical Properties

One of the key advantages of ABS is its exceptional mechanical properties. It offers excellent impact resistance, allowing it to withstand external forces and sudden impacts without breaking. ABS is also known for its toughness, which is the ability to absorb energy without fracturing. Additionally, ABS exhibits rigidity, providing structural stability and strength to the finished product.

Thermal Properties

ABS has favorable thermal properties that make it suitable for a wide temperature range. Its heat deflection temperature range at 1.81 MPa is between 81°C, indicating its ability to maintain its shape and structural integrity under elevated temperatures. ABS also has a linear thermal expansion coefficient of 12×10^-5 K^-1, ensuring dimensional stability across temperature variations.

Chemical Resistance

ABS exhibits good resistance to diluted acids, dilute alkalis, concentrated hydrochloric acid, and concentrated phosphoric acid. This chemical resistance makes it suitable for applications exposed to such substances. However, ABS is prone to swelling when in contact with glacial acetic acid, carbon tetrachloride, and aromatic hydrocarbons. It is also susceptible to attack by concentrated sulfuric acid and nitric acid. ABS offers moderate resistance to aliphatic hydrocarbons and poor resistance to aromatic hydrocarbons, halogenated hydrocarbons, and alcohols.

Combining these properties, ABS becomes an ideal choice for a wide range of applications, including automotive parts, consumer goods, electronic enclosures, and more. Its mechanical strength, thermal stability, and chemical resistance ensure durability and longevity in various environments.

ABS properties

Mechanical Properties Thermal Properties Chemical Resistance
Impact resistance Heat deflection temperature range: 81°C (1.81 MPa) Good resistance to diluted acids and dilute alkalis
Toughness Linear thermal expansion coefficient: 12×10^-5 K^-1 Resistance to concentrated hydrochloric and phosphoric acids
Rigidity Prone to swelling in glacial acetic acid, carbon tetrachloride, and aromatic hydrocarbons
Susceptible to attack by concentrated sulfuric and nitric acids
Moderate resistance to aliphatic hydrocarbons
Poor resistance to aromatic hydrocarbons, halogenated hydrocarbons, and alcohols

Blending and Additives in ABS

ABS, as a versatile thermoplastic polymer, can be blended or alloyed with other polymers to enhance or modify its properties. This enables manufacturers to tailor ABS to specific application requirements. By blending ABS with compatible thermoplastics, synergistic effects can be achieved, resulting in improved mechanical strength, thermal resistance, and chemical resistance. In addition to blending, additives can be introduced to ABS to further enhance its properties and expand its range of applications.

Common blending options for ABS include:

  • Polyamide (PA): A strong and durable thermoplastic that enhances impact resistance and increases resistance to solvents and oils.
  • Polybutylene terephthalate (PBT): Offers high heat resistance, dimensional stability, and good electrical properties when blended with ABS.
  • Polycarbonate (PC): Imparts excellent transparency, high impact resistance, and heat resistance to ABS blends.

In addition to blending, ABS can be modified with various additives to enhance specific material properties:

  • Heat stabilizers: Improve the thermal stability of ABS, allowing it to withstand elevated temperatures without significant deformation or degradation.
  • Hydrolysis stabilizers: Enhance ABS’s resistance to moisture, preventing the material from degrading when exposed to water or high humidity.
  • Lubricants: Reduce friction and improve the flow properties of ABS during processing, resulting in smoother surfaces and improved mold release.
  • UV stabilizers: Protect ABS from the damaging effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, preventing color fading and material degradation.
  • Fire retardant additives: Increase ABS’s resistance to ignition and flame spread, making it suitable for applications with strict fire safety requirements.

Reinforcing agents such as glass fibers and mineral fillers can also be incorporated into ABS blends to improve strength and rigidity. However, it is important to note that the addition of reinforcing agents may compromise transparency and yield strength.

ABS blending

Common Blending Options for ABS

Blending Option Properties Enhanced/Modified
Polyamide (PA) Mechanical strength, impact resistance, solvent resistance
Polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) Heat resistance, dimensional stability, electrical properties
Polycarbonate (PC) Transparency, high impact resistance, heat resistance

Processing and Applications of ABS

ABS, with its wide processing window, offers versatility and can be easily processed using standard machinery. Injection molding is a popular method for ABS processing, known for its efficiency and ease of use. Unlike some other polymers, ABS typically does not require pre-drying before injection molding.

The recommended melt temperature for ABS in injection molding ranges from 210 to 270°C, with a mold temperature of 40-70°C. This range ensures optimal flow and allows for the production of high-quality ABS products with consistent properties.

Another common processing method for ABS is extrusion, which involves the shaping of ABS materials by forcing them through a die. Prior to extrusion, ABS typically undergoes pre-drying for approximately 3 hours at temperatures between 70 and 80°C. The extrusion temperature for ABS falls between 210 and 240°C.

ABS processing

ABS also finds extensive use in the field of 3D printing, particularly in the Fusion Deposition Modeling (FDM) process. ABS filament, known for its affordability, strength, and stability, is a popular choice in 3D printing applications.

ABS has a broad range of applications across various industries. Its exceptional properties make it suitable for numerous uses, including:

  • Automotive components
  • Household appliances
  • Electronics
  • Toys
  • Medical equipment

ABS is commonly employed in the manufacturing of drain-waste-vent (DWV) pipe systems, musical instruments, computer keyboard keycaps, golf club heads, automotive trim components, and more.

Industry Applications
Automotive Interior and exterior components, dashboard parts, grille assemblies
Electronics Casing for electronic devices, connectors, switches
Appliances Housings for appliances, control panels, door handles
Toys Building blocks, figurines, educational toys
Medical Prosthetic components, medical device housings

With its wide range of processing options and diverse applications, ABS continues to be a valuable material choice for various industries.

ABS Recycling and Environmental Impact

ABS, being recyclable, presents an opportunity for reducing waste and conserving resources. However, not all recycling facilities accept ABS. When handled responsibly, ABS waste can be blended with virgin material to create products of high quality at a lower cost. Although ABS recycling offers these benefits, it is essential to consider its environmental impact as well.

ABS is not biodegradable. Its production requires energy and relies on natural gas and petroleum, which are non-renewable resources. Proper management and responsible recycling practices are crucial to mitigate the environmental impact of ABS.

ABS Recycling

Environmental Impact of ABS Recycling Benefits
Non-biodegradable Reduces waste
Derives from non-renewable resources Conserves resources
Emission of greenhouse gases during production Cost-effective production with blended ABS

Recycling Responsible ABS

Responsible ABS recycling involves ensuring that ABS waste is properly segregated, cleaned, and processed to maintain its recyclability. Selecting recycling facilities that accept ABS is crucial to prevent its disposal in landfills and incineration.

By recycling ABS and incorporating it back into the manufacturing process, we can reduce the demand for new ABS production, conserve resources, and minimize the environmental impact associated with its manufacture.

  • Segregate ABS waste for recycling
  • Clean ABS waste before recycling
  • Choose recycling facilities that accept ABS
  • Promote the use of recycled ABS materials

Committing to responsible ABS recycling practices is a step towards achieving a more sustainable future.


Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) is a versatile thermoplastic polymer that offers a range of beneficial properties for various applications. Comprising acrylonitrile, butadiene, and styrene monomers, ABS composition directly influences its mechanical strength, chemical resistance, and thermal stability. With its remarkable impact resistance, toughness, and rigidity, ABS is well-suited for a wide array of uses.

The ease of processing ABS through injection molding, blow molding, extrusion, and even 3D printing makes it a sought-after material. Notably, ABS can be blended with other polymers to enhance its properties or modified through the introduction of additives for specific material characteristics. However, it is crucial to responsibly manage ABS waste due to its impact on the environment, even though ABS is recyclable.

In summary, ABS composition, comprising acrylonitrile, butadiene, and styrene, determines its exceptional mechanical properties and thermal stability. Alongside its compatibility with different processing methods, including 3D printing, ABS proves to be a versatile material. With careful blending and additive selection, ABS can be customized for specific needs. However, to minimize its environmental footprint, responsible waste management and recycling of ABS must be prioritized.


What is acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) made of?

ABS is made up of three monomers: acrylonitrile, butadiene, and styrene.

What are the proportions of the monomers in ABS?

The proportions of the monomers in ABS can vary, but typical ranges are 15-35% acrylonitrile, 5-30% butadiene, and 40-60% styrene.

What is the chemical composition of ABS?

ABS is a long chain of polybutadiene crisscrossed with shorter chains of poly(styrene-co-acrylonitrile). The nitrile groups from neighboring chains bind together and contribute to the strength of ABS.

What are the properties of ABS?

ABS offers favorable mechanical properties such as impact resistance, toughness, and rigidity. It has good chemical resistance to diluted acids and alkalis, but can be prone to swelling in certain solvents.

Can ABS be blended with other polymers?

Yes, ABS can be blended with polymers such as polyamide, polybutylene terephthalate, and polycarbonate to enhance or modify its properties.

Can additives be added to ABS?

Yes, additives such as heat stabilizers, lubricants, and fire retardant additives can be introduced to ABS to enhance its properties.

How is ABS processed?

ABS can be processed through injection molding, blow molding, extrusion, and 3D printing.

What are the applications of ABS?

ABS has numerous applications across industries, including automotive components, household appliances, electronics, toys, and medical equipment.

Is ABS recyclable?

Yes, ABS is recyclable. However, not all recycling facilities accept ABS.

What is the environmental impact of ABS?

ABS is not biodegradable and its production requires energy and petroleum. It should be managed and recycled responsibly to mitigate its environmental impact.

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