Monomers in ABS polymerAcrylonitrile butadiene styrene, or ABS, (chemical formula (C8H8· C4H6·C3H3N)n) is a common thermoplastic used to make light, rigid, molded products such as piping, musical instruments (most notably recorders), golf club heads (used for its good shock absorbance), automotive body parts, wheel covers, enclosures, protective head gear, vballs [reusable paintballs], and toys including LEGO bricks. In plumbing, ABS pipes are the black pipes (PVC pipes are white) and also in Plastic Pressure Pipe Systems.
ABS plastic ground down to an average diameter of less than 1 micrometre is used as the colorant in some tattoo inks. Tattoo inks that use ABS are extremely vivid. This vividness is the most obvious indicator that the ink contains ABS, as tattoo inks rarely list their ingredients. It is a copolymer made by polymerizing styrene and acrylonitrile in the presence of polybutadiene. The proportions can vary from 15 to 35% acrylonitrile, 5 to 30% butadiene and 40 to 60% styrene.
The result is a long chain of polybutadiene criss-crossed with shorter chains of poly(styrene-co-acrylonitrile). The nitrile groups from neighbouring chains, being polar, attract each other and bind the chains together, making ABS stronger than pure polystyrene. The styrene gives the plastic a shiny, impervious surface. The butadiene, a rubbery substance, provides resilience even at low temperatures. ABS can be used between -25 and 60 °C. Production of 1 kg of ABS requires the equivalent of about 2 kg of oil for raw materials and energy. It can also be recycled.