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Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) is a specific type of plastic polymer made from the fusion of styrene and acrylonitrile with polybutadiene. ABS is commonly used in the relatively new process of 3-D printing, where physical printers construct three-dimensional objects using programmed digital designs and models.
Because of the way that polymers bind together in this material, ABS provides a relatively strong result. Using ABS can give 3-D printed models a sleek and durable surface and some kinds of elasticity across a range of temperatures. ABS also can provide good resistance to pressure, as well as adequate heat resistance for many commercial products, although eventually, it boils and responds chemically at high temperatures. ABS is used for many products, such as Lego bricks and other toys, as well as products as diverse as plumbing systems, automotive parts and kitchen appliances.
The use of ABS and other materials in 3-D printing gives engineers a desirable alternative for many kinds of mass manufacturing. It is worth pointing out that 3-D printing is innovative in several key ways, versus more traditional manufacturing processes. One new principle is that while earlier methods of manufacturing were usually conducted on blocks of raw materials, where complex shapes were created by removing material, 3-D printing is unique in that the printer adds material in specific and targeted ways to create the shape of an object.