High Impact Polystyrene, otherwise known as HIPS, is a flexible material that can be molded, cut, bent, vacuumed, easily printed on, and fabricated. HIPS has a very low heat deflection temperature, a very low chemical resistance, it does not absorb moisture, and it is relatively stable dimensionally.

Acetal plastic part made by Traco Manufacturing.
Fast Facts
Low chemical resistance
Great for signage
Wide variety of uses

High Impact Polystyrene Facts, Specifications, Grades, and More

What is High Impact Polystyrene used for?

Nowadays, you’ll find High Impact Polystyrene used mostly in signage. Given its flexibility and ease of printing, it’s often a great option for this.

Other uses include food packaging and housing for television and computers.

Typically, this material is not seen in sheets larger than 3/8”.

What colors do sheets of High Impact Polystyrene come in?

HIPS can be ordered in virtually any color under the rainbow. This is yet another reason that High Impact Polystyrene is excellent for signage.

Is High Impact Polystyrene UV resistant?

Your average sheet of this material has very low resistance to UV rays. However, you can order it with an additive that does increase UV resistance. This UV stabilizer will also prevent the yellowing that often occurs when High Impact Polystyrene experiences long term sun exposure.

However, it’s important to note that over time, even with the UV stabilizer additive, the sun will eventually wear out a piece of High Impact Polystyrene.

Is High Impact Polystyrene good for outdoor use?

Yes, as mentioned above with the added UV stabilizers for outdoor grade High Impact Polystyrene sheets, it is a good option for outdoor signage. Also, there is a grade of HIPS with an additional rubber additive that gives this material an extra boost of impact resistance.

Is High Impact Polystyrene FDA compliant?

Yes, you can purchase a grade of High Impact Polystyrene that is FDA compliant. Uses for this grade of material are found in food packaging. For example, disposable trays, coffee cups, ad yogurt cups could be engineered from High Impact Polystyrene.

Can High Impact Polystyrene be used in office spaces?

We’ve had questions before about the use of HIPS as dividers between office cubicles. Unfortunately, this is not a good use for this material. If, for example, someone was to bump their foot up against High Impact Polystyrene, it would leave a mark. Due to the flexibility of this material, a kink would form in the side of the sheet that you would not be able to repair.

Also, High Impact Polystyrene has low resistance to chemicals so sterilizing it is impossible.

How to clean High Impact Polystyrene?

Due to its low chemical resistance, you must never use a chemical cleaner on this material. If you were to use Clorox on a product made of HIP, it would begin to deform right away.

It’s best to use a dry microfiber cloth to wipe down your product made of High Impact Polystyrene. If needed slightly dampen your microfiber cloth with water.

Can High impact Polystyrene be recycled?

Yes, please see our blog about recycling plastic waste. Also, you might be interested in ways that we here at Traco Manufacturing save our customers money by reducing waste production!

Where can I buy High Impact Polystyrene?

Contact Traco to discuss your next High Impact Polystyrene project.

Some History About High Impact Polystyrene

From a generational standpoint, if you are over the age of 30 then often a lot of the plastic that you grew up seeing in your environment was High Impact Polystyrene. It was used in the past as drawer liner or a piece of plastic on a kitchen appliance, for example the back side of a toaster might have been made of HIPS.

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

  • Available in a wide variety of colors

  • Great for printing on. Because of this it’s often used in signage.

  • Available in FDA compliant grades for use in the food industry


  • Low chemical resistance

  • This material is prone to scuff marks and can be somewhat easily kinked when hit or bumped with enough force


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