ABS is a common type of thermoplastic known for its very good impact resistance. To put this into perspective, if you were to hit a piece of ¼” ABS plastic with a bat, it would have no impact on this plastic. However, it remains a softer plastic so it is possible to mar the surface, and scratches can become visible. ABS has a lower flame rating than some other types of engineered plastic. For a higher flame rating, you will need to select a higher grade of ABS material. This particular form of engineered plastic comes in many grades and thicknesses.

Acetal plastic part made by Traco Manufacturing.
Fast Facts
Highly impact-resistant
Surface easily marred or scratched
Great substitue for plywood coverings

ABS Plastic Facts, Specifications, Grades, and More

ABS can come in smooth or textured forms. Often, you’ll see a sheet of ABS that is textured on one side. This texturing is called “hair cell.” Sheets of ABS come with varying degrees of this texturing. The textured surface covers over any scratches that happen to the product.

ABS is easy to route, bend and assemble in the manufacturing process.

What does ABS stand for?

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene

How to clean ABS?

You should take care when using cleaning products on ABS. Cleaning chemicals can cause ABS to lose its sheen and even damage the surface of your product. It’s best to use a mixture of mild soap and water to clean your ABS product.

Can ABS be bent?

It’s important to note that if a piece of dark-colored ABS is bent, you will see a white line form at the seam. For example, if you took a piece of dark ABS and attempted to cold form it in a press break, this white seam would appear. To avoid this, we bend it around a wire or cal rod. Since ABS plastics are colored all the way through, with this method of bending, the white seam will not appear. At Traco we oftentimes have products that are router cut and have multiple bends in them.

How are ABS sheets made?

When you see ABS in the form of a sheet, these have been made through a process known as extrusion. This is where pellets of ABS plastic are heated and pushed through a mold into the shape of a sheet. As the sheets make their way through the extruders, they are being cooled from multiple sides. During the process, hair cell (texturing), can be added to one side of the sheet. By the end of the extrusion process, the piece of ABS plastic being formed can be up to 250 feet in length! Toward the end of the cooling process, a saw will cut the ABS sheets into different lengths.

ABS tubing can also be made by the same extrusion technique and can be extruded in angular form.

From this point we can vacuum form ABS, In other words, with ABS plastic, we have the ability to form it, build a mold, heat the sheet, drape it over the mold, draw a vacuum on it, and then cool the end product. Here at Traco we have the vacuum forming equipment to meet all of your ABS plastic needs.

What colors do ABS plastic sheets come in?

Natural, white, black, off-white, beige, dark gray, light gray, and red. Another great thing about ABS plastic is that if you purchase 50-60 sheets of the material for the same job, it is possible to have it color matched to any specific color that you need.

Is ABS UV resistant?

It can also be bought with a higher UV protection additive for added protection from long-term exposure. This is usually found in darker colors because it means that more carbon is added during the making process. For example, you would see this if you used large letters made of ABS plastic as advertising on the side of a building.

Is ABS plastic good for outdoor use?

ABS plastic can be used in outdoor products. Since it is impact resistant and wind resistant this is a good option. You would need to choose a high UV grade of ABS material to use in your outdoor products. If an outdoor product is made with a low UV-rated ABS plastic, the product will degrade over time and crack.

Is ABS recyclable?

Yes, ABS is a highly sought-after recyclable plastic material. Also, we specialize in nesting components in any job to reduce waste and increase savings for our customers. To learn more about how we recycle waste here at Traco see our blog. 

Is ABS FDA approved?

Yes, there are certain grades of ABS that are FDA approved.

What are popular brands of ABS?

GP ABS and Royalite are common brands of ABS.

What type of products are made with ABS?

There are many products that you have seen over the course of your life that are made with ABS. Quite possibly the formed piece that fits in your drawer to sort out your silverware is made of ABS. The vacuum-formed cover that’s on your alarm clock could be made of ABS. Another example of this material could be the side panel on a piece of machinery or machine housing guards.
Instead of plywood, a better solution might be a component made of ABS plastic.
Molded point of purchase displays can also be made out of ABS. Oftentimes these types of displays are for mass production. An example of this is a display for tennis shoes at your local shoe store.

Plastics machining taking place on a CNC router at Traco Manufacturing.

Specs and Data

Attribute Value
Friction Rating
Impact Rating
Machining Speed
Difficulty to Machine

Strengths and Benefits

  • High impact resistant and UV resistant grades are available

  • Available in different textures of finish

  • Comes in a variety of colors with color matching available


  • Does not bend without leaving a white “bend-line” in the material

  • Can be marred and loses sheen if cleaned with harsh chemicals


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