What is ABS plastic used for?


Quick Answer

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, otherwise known as ABS plastic, is a lightweight material popularly used in children's toys. There are two types: one suited for extrusion molding and one for injection molding. LEGO blocks are made from ABS plastic because it is so light and durable.

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Full Answer

ABS plastic is heat-resistant, lightweight and impact-resistant. For applications requiring extra toughness, this plastic is often shot through with microscopic glass fibers. This adds significant strength to the material.

Another factor that makes ABS popular with toy manufacturers is its natural white color, which is an excellent backdrop for bright dyes. The dyes are mixed with the resin pellets before melting, creating an evenly-colored, streak-free plastic. Colored ABS plastic does not fade.

ABS plastic also has applications outside of the toy industry. It is a favorite material for children's clarinets and recorders, protective helmets and canoes. Its considerable shock-absorbent properties also make ABS plastic ideal for luggage, laptop cases and similar protective items.

One of the most unusual uses for brightly hued ABS plastic is as a component in tattoo ink. The plastic is pulverized into an extremely fine powder and mixed with a carrier fluid. Because this plastic is highly colorfast and fade-resistant, tattoos made with ABS ink stay vibrant for many years.

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