Comparison Guide: What is the difference between HIPS and ABS?

High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS) and Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) are both popular thermoplastic materials and whilst they offer some similarities there are key differences in terms of composition, uses and characteristics.

1. Composition:

High Impact Polystyrene is a polymer composed of 86% polystyrene, 10% butadiene, 2% white mineral oil (petroleum) and 2% colourant.

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene is a terpolymer composed of acrylonitrile, butadiene, styrene copolymer plus 2% colourant.

2. Properties:

HIPS is known for its high impact resistance, making it suitable for applications where toughness is essential. It offers good colouration and mechanical properties, is easy to process, lightweight, and has a relatively low cost. Conductive HIPS is ideal for ESD (electrostatic discharge) sensitive applications.

ABS offers a balance of mechanical strength, impact resistance, electrical properties and thermal stability. It has better heat resistance compared to HIPS and can withstand higher temperatures without significant deformation. ABS is also more durable and exhibits better chemical resistance.

3. Applications:

Due to its impact resistance, HIPS is commonly used in applications like packaging materials, toys, cases, housings for electronics, dancefloors, and automotive interior parts. HIPS is also widely used for point of sale, signage and display as it can be printed using a variety of methods including screen printing and offset lithography. 

ABS is widely used in applications that require a combination of strength and impact resistance, such as automotive parts, consumer electronics, household appliances, computer keyboards, encasings and durable point of sale. Its higher heat resistance also makes it suitable for parts that are subject to moderate heat exposure.

4. Processing:

Both HIPS and ABS can be easily machined to close tolerances by drilling, die-cutting, sawing, turning, milling or shearing. They are also suitable for vacuum forming, fabricating or printing.

5. Grades:

HIPS is available in gloss, matt, pinseal, mirror, recycled and conductive.
ABS is available in gloss, smooth, pinseal, recycled, carbon fibre effect, acrylic capped and flame retardant.

For more information on our range of HIPS or ABS, please get in touch on 01727 863138 or email sales@stephen-webster.co.uk