Using Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) vs Acrylic in Plastic Manufacturing

In the dynamic world of plastic manufacturing, the choice of materials holds the key to unlocking innovation, functionality, and quality in diverse industries. At Advanced Plastiform Inc., a thermoforming company focusing on creating high-quality plastic components, understands that selecting the right material is a crucial decision that impacts product performance, aesthetics, and even sustainability.

In this comprehensive guide, our plastic manufacturing experts are comparing two prominent plastic materials: ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) and acrylic. In exploring the properties, advantages, and considerations of both ABS vs acrylic materials, we aim to empower engineers, designers, and manufacturers with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions about plastic material selection.

Understanding Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, commonly referred to as ABS, is a thermoplastic polymer renowned for its exceptional balance of properties. Composed of three distinct monomers– acrylonitrile, butadiene, and styrene– ABS combines the strengths of each component to deliver a versatile and robust material.

Impact Resistance

One of the standout qualities of Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene is its remarkable impact resistance. This makes it well-suited for applications that involve potential collisions, shocks, or vibrations. Its ability to absorb and dissipate impact energy makes it a preferred choice in scenarios where safety and product integrity are paramount.


ABS is recognized for its exceptional durability and longevity. It can withstand harsh environmental conditions, such as exposure to UV radiation and temperature fluctuations, without significant degradation. This durability ensures that products made from Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene have a prolonged service life, reducing maintenance and replacement costs.


The versatility of Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene is a testament to its adaptability across various manufacturing processes. It can be easily molded, extruded, and fabricated, allowing for intricate designs and complex shapes. This versatility lends itself to customization, enabling manufacturers to create products that meet specific requirements while maintaining structural integrity.

Exploring Acrylic

Acrylic, scientifically known as Polymethyl Methacrylate (PMMA), is a versatile thermoplastic that has gained prominence for its exceptional optical clarity and unique set of properties. It is a synthetic polymer derived from acrylic acid or its esters and is known for its glass-like appearance and lightweight nature.

Optical Clarity and Transparency

Acrylic stands out for its outstanding optical properties. With exceptional transparency that rivals glass, acrylic allows light to pass through without significant distortion. This clarity makes it an ideal choice for applications where visual appeal and the ability to showcase products or contents are essential.

UV Resistance

Acrylic boasts excellent resistance to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Unlike some other plastics, acrylic does not readily degrade or yellow when exposed to sunlight. This UV resistance makes it a reliable choice for outdoor applications, as it can maintain its clarity and integrity over extended periods.

Aesthetic Appeal

Acrylic's ability to be easily molded and shaped allows for intricate designs that enhance aesthetic appeal. It can be manufactured with smooth surfaces, vibrant colors, and even textured finishes. This aesthetic versatility makes acrylic a preferred material for products where visual impact is paramount.

Common Applications of Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene in Various Industries

As Advanced Plastiform Inc. navigates the complexities of ABS, we're committed to harnessing its strengths to deliver innovative solutions that cater to a wide array of industries. From automobiles to electronic devices, the inherent qualities of ABS position it as a material of choice for crafting reliable, long-lasting, and visually appealing products.


ABS's impact resistance and durability make it a popular choice in the automotive industry. It is used in components such as interior and exterior trim, dashboards, panels, and even under-the-hood parts. Its ability to withstand mechanical stress and exposure to different weather conditions contributes to the safety and aesthetics of vehicles.

Consumer Electronics

In the realm of consumer electronics, ABS plays a vital role due to its ease of processing and electrical insulating properties. It is commonly found in housing for electronic devices, including computer peripherals, appliances, and audio equipment. Its ability to be molded into sleek, ergonomic designs enhances the aesthetic appeal of these products.

Toys and Recreational Products

The toy industry benefits from ABS's combination of safety and customization. Toys made from ABS are durable enough to endure rough play, ensuring they remain intact over time. Manufacturers also appreciate the ease with which ABS can be colored, allowing for vibrant and attractive designs in various recreational products.

Typical Applications of Acrylic in Different Sectors

At Advanced Plastiform Inc., we recognize the unparalleled potential of acrylic in transforming industries through its visual excellence and exceptional properties. From architectural marvels to cutting-edge medical devices, acrylic's ability to combine clarity and creativity makes it an invaluable asset in our pursuit of excellence.

Architecture and Interior Design

Acrylic's optical clarity and aesthetic appeal make it a favored material in architecture and interior design. It is commonly used for windows, skylights, partitions, and decorative elements. Acrylic's lightweight nature and ease of fabrication contribute to its popularity in creating modern, sleek designs.

Signage and Displays

The signage and display industry benefits immensely from acrylic's transparency and ability to transmit light. Acrylic sheets are often used for illuminated signs, lightboxes, and retail displays. Its reflective properties can enhance the visual impact of graphics and text, making it an essential material for advertising and branding.

Medical Devices

Acrylic's biocompatibility and clarity make it suitable for medical applications. It is used in the production of medical equipment and devices such as microscope lenses, cuvettes, and incubators. Its resistance to chemicals and ease of sterilization contribute to its use in healthcare settings.

Key Considerations When Choosing Between ABS and Acrylic

Choosing between ABS vs acrylic involves a careful evaluation of various factors that can significantly impact the success of your plastic manufacturing project. From physical properties to aesthetic attributes and more, each aspect plays a pivotal role in making the right choice between these plastic manufacturing materials.

Mechanical Strength

When assessing mechanical strength of ABS vs acrylic, consider the level of load and stress the final product will endure. ABS exhibits higher mechanical strength than acrylic, making it suitable for applications that require robustness and resistance to external forces.

Impact Resistance

Both ABS vs acrylic offer commendable impact resistance, but ABS holds an advantage due to its tough composition and ability to absorb shocks. If your product is prone to impact or sudden forces, ABS might be the better choice.

Flexibility and Brittleness

ABS tends to be more flexible than acrylic, which can be beneficial for applications that require a certain level of elasticity. Acrylic, while generally rigid, is more brittle than ABS. Assess whether flexibility or rigidity is more suitable for your project's needs when choosing between ABS vs acrylic.

Transparency vs. Opacity

The optical properties of acrylic make it superior in terms of transparency and light transmission. If showcasing contents or achieving a glass-like appearance is essential, acrylic is the go-to choice. ABS is better for applications that don't require transparency.

Surface Finish Options

Acrylic is known for its smooth and glossy surface finish, contributing to a premium look. ABS can also achieve a polished appearance, but its surface might require additional finishing processes. Consider the desired texture and finish of your end product when deciding between using ABS vs acrylic.

Color Customization

ABS vs acrylic offer different levels of color customization. ABS can be easily colored during the manufacturing process, while acrylic offers vibrant and consistent color options. If color diversity is a priority, ABS might offer more flexibility.

UV Stability

Acrylic's exceptional UV resistance makes it an excellent choice for outdoor applications that need to withstand sunlight exposure without yellowing or degrading. If your product will be exposed to direct sunlight, acrylic is the more suitable option.

Chemical Resistance

Consider the chemicals the material will come into contact with when choosing ABS vs acrylic. Acrylic is generally more chemically resistant than ABS, making it preferable for applications where exposure to solvents or chemicals is likely.

Moisture Resistance

Both materials are relatively moisture-resistant, but ABS has the edge in terms of withstanding moisture over extended periods. If your product will be used in humid or wet environments, ABS might offer better durability.

Manufacturing Processes

Understanding these manufacturing process distinctions between ABS vs acrylic can guide manufacturers in aligning their material choice with their production methods for optimal results:

  • Injection Molding: Both ABS vs acrylic are well-suited for injection molding, a common manufacturing process. However, due to its lower viscosity, acrylic might require more precise control during molding to avoid defects.
  • Vacuum Forming: When choosing between ABS vs acrylic for vacuum forming, consider if impact resistance and durability are key. If so, ABS might be the preferred choice. Conversely, if visual appeal and transparency are paramount, acrylic should be considered.
  • Twin Sheet Forming: When comparing ABS vs. acrylic for twin sheet forming, ABS is the preferred choice if durability, impact resistance, and insulation are crucial, whereas acrylic should be chosen for applications that prioritize visual appeal and transparency.

Cost Comparison

Making informed decisions about materials in plastic manufacturing involves a thorough examination of cost factors related to ABS vs acrylic:

  • Raw Material Costs for ABS vs Acrylic: Acrylic typically has a higher initial cost per unit weight compared to ABS which benefits from a more economical production process, resulting in a relatively lower raw material cost.
  • Production and Processing Costs: Acrylic's precise manufacturing process and requirements for maintaining optical clarity can impact processing costs. ABS, with its versatility and ease of processing, might require fewer post-processing steps, contributing to potential cost savings.
  • Long-Term Maintenance and Replacement Considerations: Acrylic's UV resistance makes it a reliable choice for outdoor applications that require minimal maintenance and replacement due to sun-related degradation. ABS's durability and impact resistance contribute to its extended service life, potentially reducing replacement costs over time.

Contact Our Plastic Manufacturing Experts Today for ABS and Acrylic Processing

Are you ready to embark on a plastic manufacturing journey that combines innovation, expertise, and the perfect material choice? Whether you're considering ABS or acrylic for your project, our team of skilled professionals at Advanced Plastiform Inc., our pressure forming plastic company, is here to guide you every step of the way. With years of experience and a commitment to excellence, we specialize in ABS and acrylic processing, ensuring that your vision becomes a reality. From expert material selection and precise manufacturing processes to sustainable practices and cost-effective solutions, we're dedicated to exceeding your expectations.  Advanced Plastiform is your answer for custom plastic products manufactured in North CarolinaSouth Carolina, Pennsylvania, Maryland, TennesseeGeorgia, and Virginia.

Contact us today by calling  919-404-2080 or filling out the contact form to get started.

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