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Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene is a common thermoplastic used to make light, rigid, moulded products such as pipes, enclosures and toys. It is made by polymerizing styrene and acrylonitrile in the presence of polybutadiene. The proportions can vary from 15% to 35% acrylonitrile, 5% to 30% butadiene and 40% to 60% styrene. The result is a long chain of polybutadiene criss-crossed with shorter chains of poly(styrene-co-acrylonitrile). The nitrile groups from neighbouring chains, being polar, attract each other and bind the chains together, making ABS stronger than pure polystyrene. The styrene gives the plastic a shiny, impervious surface. The butadiene, a rubbery substance, provides resilience even at low temperatures. ABS can be used between -25C and +60C.

Production of 1 kg of ABS requires the equivalent of about 2 kg of oil for raw materials and energy.