When it comes to selecting a perfectly designed chair or suitcase, you may get confused by the various materials available. A common challenge is choosing between Polypropylene (PP) and ABS, two popular plastic materials used in the production of design chairs. In this article, we will simplify the comparison between Polypropylene and ABS so you can understand their differences and make a confident decision when buying your next stylish piece.

Table of Contents

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) vs Polypropylene (PP): Comparison table

Aspect ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) PP (Polypropylene)
Material type Terpolymer Homopolymer
Composition A copolymer of acrylonitrile, butadiene, and styrene Polymer derived from propylene monomers
Physical strength  High-impact strength and toughness Good stiffness and strength
Rigidity Rigid Flexible
Chemical resistance  Resistant to many chemicals but may degrade with certain solvents Excellent chemical resistance to acids, alkalis, and corrosive substances
Heat resistance  Good heat resistance Excellent heat resistance
Moisture resistance  Good moisture resistance Excellent moisture resistance
Processing temperature  Higher processing temperature (210-240°C) Lower processing temperature (160-200°C)
Processing methods    Injection moulding, extrusion, thermoforming Injection moulding, extrusion
Painting/electroplating Can be easily painted or plated Less easily painted or plated
Applications Automotive parts, electrical and electronic enclosures, consumer goods, 3D printing  Chemical containers, laboratory equipment, automotive components, packaging, appliances, textiles
Recyclability Limited recyclability due to complex composition and compatibility issues Widely recyclable, with many applications in recycled products
Price More expensive than the PP Less expensive than the ABS

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What is Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)?

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, commonly known as ABS, is a thermoplastic polymer composed of three monomers: acrylonitrile, butadiene, and styrene. This combination makes a material with excellent mechanical properties, impact resistance, and dimensional stability. ABS is widely used in different industries ranging from automotive and electronics to consumer goods and construction.

Properties of ABS

The key properties of ABS that make it a preferred option for various applications are as follows:

  1. Strength and durability: ABS provides superior strength and impact resistance, making it suitable for durable products such as toys, electronic casings, and automotive parts.
  2. Aesthetic appeal: ABS is also easy to mould and has a smooth, glossy surface finish, making it ideal for applications where appearance is important.
  3. Better machinability: ABS is quite easy to machine, which allows for complicated designs and precision manufacture.
  4. Temperature resistance: ABS can sustain moderate temperatures, but it has lower heat resistance compared to polypropylene.

Applications of ABS

Here are some critical applications of ABS that excel in delivering reliable performance and visual appeal.

  1. Electronics and appliances: ABS is commonly used in manufacturing electronic cases, computer parts, and household appliances because of its electrical insulation properties and aesthetic appeal.
  2. Consumer goods: ABS is used in the consumer goods market for products such as toys, sports equipment, luggage, and kitchenware because of its impact resilience and ability to be easily moulded into complex shapes.
  3. Automotive: ABS is also used in the automotive industry for interior trims, instrument panels, and exterior parts because of its strength, impact resistance, and ease of customisation.
  4. Construction: ABS is used in construction for pipes, fittings, and decorative profiles because of its durability and chemical resistance.

What is Polypropylene (PP)?

Polypropylene, often abbreviated as PP, is another thermoplastic polymer widely used in many industries. It is a versatile material known for its high chemical resistance, thermal stability, and relatively low cost. PP is commonly used in packaging, automotive parts, medical devices, and household products.

Properties of Polypropylene

The key properties of polypropylene make it a preferred option for various applications are as follows:

  1. Lightweight: Polypropylene is substantially lighter than other thermoplastics, resulting in better handling and lower shipping costs.
  2. Chemical resistance: PP is also highly resistant to a variety of chemicals, acids, and alkalis, making it an excellent choice for applications that require exposure to harsh environments.
  3. High flexibility: The material is extremely flexible, which contributes to its impact resistance and capacity to sustain repeated bending or flexing without cracking.
  4. Thermal stability: Polypropylene has a high melting point, allowing it to tolerate high temperatures without substantial deformation, making it ideal for heat-sensitive products.

Applications of Polypropylene

Here are some critical applications of Polypropylene that excel in delivering superior performance and functionality.

  1. Packaging: PP is commonly used in packaging applications such as bottles, containers, and films due to its durability, clarity, and moisture resistance.
  2. Automotive: Polypropylene is used in the automotive industry for interior components such as dashboards, door trims, and bumpers due to its high impact strength and heat resistance.
  3. Medical: PP is a popular material in the medical field. It is used for products like syringes, vials, and surgical equipment due to its biocompatibility and sterilisation capabilities.
  4. Textiles: Polypropylene fibres are widely used in materials such as carpets, upholstery, and geotextiles due to their resistance to stains, fading, and mould growth.

What is the difference between ABS and Polypropylene?

Now that you understand what ABS and PP plastics are let’s see how they’re different from each other. ABS plastic and PP have key differences in a few areas, such as:

1. Chemical composition:

ABS is composed of acrylonitrile, butadiene, and styrene monomers, whereas PP is composed only of propylene monomers. This fundamental difference in composition results in distinct properties for each material.

2. Mechanical properties:

ABS plastic has great impact resistance, making it ideal for applications requiring toughness, such as automotive parts and consumer electronics.
However, PP has high tensile strength and stiffness, as well as exceptional resistance to fatigue and stress cracking. These properties make it perfect for applications that require durability and structural integrity, such as in pipes, containers, and furniture.

3. Temperature resistance:

ABS is more heat-resistant than PP, with softening temperatures typically ranging from 100°C to 125°C. However, ABS may deform at high temperatures.
Similarly, PP is more resistant to high temperatures, with softening points ranging from 130°C to 171°C. It can sustain greater temperatures without deforming, making it ideal for applications that require heat resistance.

4. Chemical resistance:

PP is highly resistant to a wide range of chemicals, acids, and solvents, making it ideal for applications where harsh chemicals are a problem.
Similarly, ABS also has strong chemical resistance, but it may not be as robust as PP in some harsh chemical conditions.

5. Appearance and surface finish:

ABS has a glossy surface finish and is easily coated or plated, making it ideal for applications that require visual appeal.
However, PP has a matte appearance and may not be as easy to paint or plate as ABS. Although, it is more resistant to scratches and abrasion.

ABS or Polypropylene: Which is the better choice?

The best material for your project will depend on the specific requirements. Here’s a quick guide to help you decide:

If you need a strong and rigid material with good chemical resistance and machinability, or if you need a material that can be electroplated or painted. Then, ABS is a perfect choice for you.

However, if you need a strong and flexible material that is lightweight and resistant to chemicals and moisture, or if you need a recyclable material, then PP is an ideal choice for you.


Polypropylene and ABS are two versatile thermoplastics with different characteristics and applications. Polypropylene has great chemical resistance and flexibility, making it useful for a variety of packaging and automotive applications. On the other hand, ABS stands out for its strength, visual appeal, and machinability, making it widely used in the electronics, consumer goods, and automotive industries. Understanding the distinct properties of various materials enables manufacturers, designers, and individuals to make informed decisions about material selection for their specific needs.

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