Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene (ABS) Resins
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Published: April 2011
Acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) resins are the largest-volume engineering thermoplastic resin. ABS is a bridge between commodity plastics like polystyrene and higher-performance engineering thermoplastics like polycarbonate. ABS resins are composed mainly of styrene (over 50%) and varying amounts of butadiene and acrylonitrile. The styrene base provides rigidity and ease of processability, and acrylonitrile offers chemical resistance and heat stability. The butadiene portion of ABS supplies toughness and impact strength. The composition of ABS resins can vary widely, allowing the production of many different grades, which can thus be tailored for different end-use applications. Large-volume applications for ABS resins include appliance parts (including electrical/electronics) and automotive/transportation uses. In these markets, ABS competes with specialty thermoplastics such as polycarbonates, as well as with commodity polymers such as polyvinyl chloride and polypropylene resins. ABS resins are frequently used in polymer blends for many differing applications.
The major ABS resin–exporting giants continue to be the Republic of Korea and Taiwan. In 2010, these two countries accounted for nearly three-fourths of the total world exports of ABS. Korean and Taiwanese exports were destined mainly for China. Taiwan's Chi Mei Corporation continues to be the world leader in terms of ABS resin capacity and production.
ABS resins are consumed mainly in the appliances and electrical/electronic industries. Approximately 60% of the total world consumption of ABS resins was for these two markets. The next-largest end use is in the transportation sector (primarily automobiles).
The following pie chart shows world consumption of ABS resins:
World consumption of ABS is projected to grow at an average annual rate of about 4.0%, with rates of 5–5.5% in China, India and Oceania; 4.0–4.7% in the Middle East, Central and Eastern Europe, and Africa; and 3.2–3.9% in Indonesia, Mexico, Thailand, Malaysia, and Central and South America.