ABS or ASA Plastic: Their Differences and Similarities Discussed

Over the years, various types of engineering-grade thermoplastics have gained popularity and ABS and ASA are two popular types among them. Both these thermoplastics differ in terms of durability, physical, and chemical characteristics. Based on these differences, the thermoplastics are used in some applications more than others. What are these characteristics? Which of these thermoplastics is suited for outdoor applications? What are some common applications of these thermoplastics? This post not only discusses these thermoplastics in detail but also answers these questions.

A Basic Introduction to ABS and Its Properties

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene or ABS, as it is commonly known, is a thermoplastic resin that is widely used for creating external housing of all types. ABS is a durable material, which makes it a favorable plastic with thermoplastic and injection molding industries. The following properties make it a common choice for several regular and challenging applications.

  • The polybutadiene rubber in this plastic adds to its impact resistance and flexibility.
  • The styrene monomer makes it shiny, hard, and adds to its chemical resistance properties. Additionally, it also possesses great flow characteristics.
  • This plastic offers excellent rigidity and stability at high temperatures up to 100 degrees Celsius.
  • Nowadays, metal-covered ABS known as advanced ABS is used in applications that demand superior weathering resistance. The thin metal covering over the plastic helps avoid the need for additional surface polishing or processing.
  • As butadiene is not UV resistant, so, it is not considered for outdoor applications. However, it is ideal for durable enclosures used indoors. It is more common to find parts made of ABS in industries such as commercial-grade electronics and home appliances and telecommunication where lightweight, yet durable parts are favored.

Today, plastic manufacturers are creating various blends of ABS by altering the ratio of plasticizers to meet the specific application requirements.

An Overview of ASA Plastic and Its Properties

ASA is an abbreviation of acrylonitrile styrene acrylate material, which almost shares the same chemistry as ABS, with a change that polybutadiene is replaced with acrylate rubber. The following features of this plastic have contributed to its increasing popularity in the plastic manufacturing industry.

  • The acrylic ester group in this resin makes it UV resistant. This also adds to its chemical resistance properties.
  • Sturdiness combined with its UV resistance properties makes it a suitable choice for several automotive components.
  • ASA plastic resins appeal with their glossy finish and are used to create parts of medical electronics.
  • Owing to its typical molecular structure and properties, the ASA plastic can withstand ambient temperatures, as well as extreme cold or hot temperatures. In addition to the automotive sector, this resin is also used for making instrument panels, hoods, lighting, and electrical parts.

Both ASA and ABS plastic assure excellent machinability, affordable, as well as available in various colors that increase their popularity across industries. The resin grades from different brands would have different properties, which may limit their use for certain applications. Hence, it is important to understand their properties before investing in a particular grade. If you are considering these thermoplastics for your next project, you must source them from a trusted supplier like Mid Continent Plastics. The company provides these resins in various forms and quantities, as well as also helps various small suppliers or hobbyists to monetize the extra quantity of resins they may have. The company has been serving the injection molding, extrusion, and compounding communities by delivering high-quality wide-spec, prime virgin, and recycled engineered resins.

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