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Types of Plastic Sheet & Their Properties 

This page contains some basic information on the nature and properties of some of the more common thermoplastics, which we hope you will find helpful.

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Material Properties
ABS Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene- ABS plastic sheet is amongst the most versatile and widely used of thermoplastics, particularly within the thermoforming industry. The wide forming temperature range of ABS plastic sheet makes it relatively easy to form. ABS plastic sheets have good dimensional stability which makes trimming relatively easy too (click to learn more about ABS plastic sheet). The Specific Gravity of ABS (standard grades) is 1.08.
PMMA/ABS This plastic sheet is ABS with an acrylic capping. This co-extruded sheet has the strength of ABS combined with a capping layer of acrylic producing a coloured and/or UV resistant surface. Finishes are usually gloss, but can be matt or textured. The Specific Gravity of ABS with an acrylic capping (PMMA/ABS standard grades) is 1.1.
HIPS High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS plastic sheet). HIPS plastic sheet is amongst the lowest cost and easiest of materials to thermoform and trimming is easy with the right tools. Moisture absorption is not considered a problem and pre-drying is seldom required. Typical applications include point of sale products. Chemical and impact resistance are not as good as ABS. The Specific Gravity of HIPS (for standard grades) is 1.05.
SAN Styrene Acrylonitrile (SAN plastic sheet). SAN plastic sheet has similar properties to HIPS, but SAN has better chemical resistance and can be UV stabilised. Clear grades have a blueish tint. The Specific Gravity of SAN (for standard grades) is 1.08.
Polypropylene Polypropylene (PP). PP plastic sheet has good chemical resistance, good fatigue resistance (integral hinge property), and good temperature resistance. The difficulty in forming PP is its narrow thermoforming temperature window, webbing too can be a problem. Because of the semi-crystalline nature of PP, post forming shrinkage rates are high. A filling such as talc can be used to improve these properties. The Specific Gravity for Polypropylene Plastic Sheet (PP standard grades) is 0.92.
HDPE High Density Polyethylene (HDPE). HDPE plastic sheet has similar characteristics to polypropylene, but with better low temperature impact resistance. HDPE has poor UV resistance (unless coloured). It is good for welding, good electrical insulation and does not readily absorb moisture. The Specific Gravity of HDPE (standard grades) is 0.95.
Acrylic Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA plastic sheet)- It is a versatile material; easy to handle, machine, screen print and polish. The two principle types (extruded and cast) have similar properties, but extruded sheet can be vacuum formed whereas cast sheet can be pressed. Grades are available with improved impact resistance, generally termed "impact resistant PMMA". The Specific Gravity of Acrylic/PMMA (standard grades) is 1.2.
PETG Polyethylene Terephthlate (glycol modified) or PETG plastic sheet. PETG has good processing and forming characteristics, doesn't require pre-drying, and has good impact strength and rigidity. PETG is not usually UV resistant. The Specific Gravity of PETG (standard grades) is 1.2.
Polycarbonate Polycarbonate plastic sheet has excellent stiffness, impact strength and good fire properties. It absorbs moisture so needs pre-drying before forming. Some grades are UV resistant and some hard coated. The Specific Gravity of Polycarbonate (standard grades) is 1.2.
PVC Polyvinyl Chloride (unplasticised). PVC plastic sheet has good impact resistance and stiffness. It is easily fabricated and welded or thermoformed, and becomes brittle at low temperatures. The Specific Gravity of PVC (for standard grades) is 1.4.
ASA Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate (ASA plastic sheet) has similar properties to ABS, but better weathering and low temperature characteristics. Like ABS, ASA absorbs moisture and needs to be dried before forming. The Specific Gravity of ASA (for standard grades) is 1.07.