What is ABS sheet?

ABS sheet is a widely used industrial material, especially as an engineering thermoplastic. It is made by the polymerisation of styrene and acrylonitrile on to thermoplastic rubber. The resulting mixture is melted together with styrene acrylonitrile to form what we know as Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (or ABS for short!). ABS is an excellent choice of material for laser cutting.

ABS plastic sheet is generally available in two grades:

  1. engineering grade ABS sheet and
  2. vacuum forming grade ABS sheet

Useful properties of ABS plastic sheet

ABS plastic sheet has an excellent appearance with the following useful properties:

  • easily laser cut and laser engraved
  • scratch and abrasion resistance
  • smooth or textured surface
  • stronger, stiffer and tougher than high impact polystyrene (HIPS)
  • superior resistance to high temperatures and chemicals compared to HIPS
  • a light and rigid material useful in a variety of applications
  • excellent electrical, moisture and creep resistance
  • good chemical and stress cracking resistance to inorganic salt solutions, alkalis and many acids (not oxidising acids)

Laser cutting ABS sheet

ABS plastic sheets can be lazer cut easily. Before or after laser cutting they can also be machined, turned, drilled, milled, sawed, bored, die-cut, routed and sheared using high speed carbide-tipped tools.

ABS can be machine finished by filing, grinding, sanding, buffing and polishing. It can be found in the following applications, very often processed with a laser engraver or laser cutter as part of its manufacture:

  • Automotive interiors and exteriors
  • Aircraft interior trims
  • Home and office appliances
  • Architectural model buildings & prototype models
  • Luggage and luggage components
  • Machine parts including rollers
  • Pipes & plumbing fittings
  • Food trays

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