Is ABS the Same as Acrylic? ABS vs. Acrylic
ABS and acrylic are both sturdy plastics that have multiple uses in many different industries. There always seem to be questions when comparing acrylic and ABS or to other plastics. The most frequently asked questions include:
- Is ABS the same as acrylic?
- What’s the difference between acrylic and ABS?
- Is acrylic heavier than ABS?
- Why is ABS plastic so popular?
- What’s the acrylic melting point vs. ABS?
The experts at Acrilex understand the differences between ABS plastic vs. acrylic and other plastics. Acrilex has crafted plastics for the most demanding commercial and industrial applications for the last 50 years. It’s a one-stop shop for superior quality fabrication, plastic and materials.
What Is ABS?
Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) is a widely-used thermoplastic that can be die-cut, drilled or machined with relative ease. It’s a durable solution for heavy-duty material applications. Uses for ABS include:
- Boat accessories
- Computer housings
- Automobile components
- Tub and shower surrounds
An ABS sheet is known for its rigidity and strength, making it ideal for products that go through a lot of wear and tear. Its durability makes it the preferred choice in the thermoplastic and injection molding industries. Other advantages of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene include:
- Excellent abrasion resistance
- High resistance to chemicals, moisture and high temperatures
- Structurally sturdy and doesn’t break easily
- Strong and durable even in the most trying environments
- Impact resistance even at low temperatures
These advantages are some of the reasons ABS plastic is so popular. A few disadvantages of ABS plastics are that it may be hazardous when burned, and it may be damaged by prolonged exposure to sunlight. These shortcomings haven’t stopped ABS from being an effective choice in many industries.
What Kind of Plastic Is Acrylic?
Acrylic, also called PMMA, is an environmentally friendly, nontoxic plastic. It’s commonly known by the trade name plexiglass. This form of plastic is more impact-resistant than glass. It’s easy to handle and process. Some uses for acrylic plastic include:
- Interior and exterior signs
- Store fixtures
- Optical instruments
- Lighting fixtures
Acrylic plastic is available in a greater variety of colors than any other plastic material. It can be heated and molded to shape and then reheated while retaining its appearance. It’s stored in multiple forms, such as tubes, rods, sheets and extrusions. Other advantages of acrylics plastic include:
- Highly transparent
- Easy to dye
- Resists yellowing and fading
- Easy to process and shape
- UV resistant
- Less expensive than glass or polycarbonate plastic
It’s also resistant to abrasion, weathering and water. It may be a good choice if you need a water-resistant material or a shatter-proof alternative to glass. Acrylic is stronger than glass, but weighs less. Disadvantages of acrylic plastic include that grease or oil may stain it and that it scratches more often than glass. It may crack during drilling or upon impact and shouldn’t be exposed to open flames.
What Are the Differences in Acrylic vs. ABS Plastic?
Material properties can vary from one type of plastic to the next. When comparing acrylics vs. ABS, acrylics are strong and stiff while ABS machines with ease. Other key differences of acrylic plastic vs. ABS plastic include:
- Melting point. ABS has a low melting temperature of 221 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes it good for injection molding. Acrylic softens at high temperatures, but it has to be 320 degrees before it actually melts.
- Acrylic is slightly more expensive than ABS, but it’s typically less expensive than polycarbonate.
- Acrylic is heavier than many plastics at 1.19 grams per cubic centimeter. ABS is less dense than either acrylic or polycarbonate, weighing 1.03 grams per cubic centimeter.
- Acrylic is a clear plastic, while most grades of ABS are opaque.
- When considering acrylic vs. ABS strength, take into account the environment the plastic operates in. Extreme temperatures reduce the strength of both.
A similarity between ABS vs. acrylic is how easy they are to glue. Acrylic is easy to fabricate and glue, and it has better glue-bonding properties than polycarbonate. ABS is also easy to glue, and most adhesives bond to ABS.
Which Is Better: ABS or Plastic?
The decision to use ABS, acrylic or other plastics depends on your individual needs. Considerations include the application of the product and the environment where it’s used. ABS is a great choice if you’re looking for strong resilience to breaking and tearing or high impact resistance. If you need a clear, shatterproof plastic with a high gloss finish, acrylic is a good choice.
The many choices in plastics can be confusing and may require the guidance of experts in the field. If you’re looking for information on plastics or you have questions about acrylic vs. ABS, contact the knowledgeable team at Acrilex.