Styrene monomer (‘SM’) is an important intermediate material used in the production of a variety of plastic and synthetic rubber products with key applications in the electronics, healthcare, household, automotive, construction and packaging sectors. Styrene is a liquid hydrocarbon produced from ethylene and benzene, using either the ethylbenzene dehydrogenation (‘EBSM’) process or the propylene oxide styrene monomer (‘POSM’) process. SM is primarily used as feedstock in PS, ABS and Specialties product manufacturing. 

Styrenic polymers are used in various end-use industries owing to their superior chemical and physical properties including lightweight, chemical inertness, heat resistance, electrical insulation, and rigidity.

Polystyrene (PS)

Polystyrene is a thermoplastic resin obtained from the polymerization of SM. Due to its easy processability, PS has many applications, including construction, electronics, household appliances, toys, disposables and packaging (see table below for examples of key applications). There are two basic types of PS: (i) crystal PS (straight, or general purpose PS (‘GPPS’)) and (ii) high impact PS (‘HIPS’). GPPS is used in sectors like food packaging, while HIPS is a more durable plastic used in household appliances such as refrigerators. 

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS)

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (‘ABS’) is a high volume engineering plastic, favoured for its strength, scratch resistance and attractive finish. Traditionally, ABS producers would offer customers numerous grades and colour options. Today, following the emergence of very large plants and production lines in the industry, most ABS producers focus production on either (i) standard ABS, which is uncoloured, (ABS Standard) or (ii) pre-coloured ABS (ABS Specialty). ABS resin is made into a wide range of components via injection moulding and extrusion. Primary uses are in the production of automotive parts, consumer electronics and household appliances.

Styrene-acrylonitrile (SAN)

AN is a rigid and transparent polymer made from styrene and acrylonitrile. SAN is one component in the production of ABS. In addition, SAN has some commercial end uses as a transparent polymer in its own right, including in kitchenware, computer products, battery cases, ballpoint pens and packaging material.

Acrylonitrile styrene acrylate (ASA)

ASA is a styrene derivative produced by introducing a grafted acrylic ester elastomer (elastic polymer) in a polymer matrix consisting of SAN. ASA is suitable for injection moulding, extrusion, blow moulding and thermoforming. End uses include automotive components, construction, telecoms, household appliances and sports and leisure equipment.

Methyl methacrylate acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (MABS)

ABS is a tough, transparent plastic, with high brilliance and surface finish. It exhibits good chemical resistance, good tensile strength and stiffness and is easy to process, print on, sterilize and bond with other resins. MABS is used in applications including medical technology and diagnostics, cosmetics and hygiene.

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