HIPS (high impact polystyrene) High Detail with Low Cost

Polystyrene was first discovered in 1839 by the pharmacist Eduard Simon. Over the next 20-years the ability to produce polystyrene was further developed. But it would be nearly 80-years before polystyrene was to be produced commercially.

Germany needed to find an alternative to zinc for die-casting following the First World War, Germany’s loss of its colonies and its limited national resources. Although globally, widely, and abundant zinc had become valuable as a derivative alloy and for the process of galvanising and metal’s protection. The new polystyrene was a lightweight mouldable alternative.

In 1931 IG Farben was the first company to manufacture polystyrene as a rigid, solid sheet material and in pellet form for moulding. Polystyrene’s low melt temperature made it ideal for moulding and creating fine details that were required to replace lightweight metals and alloys in the die-cast market.

General purpose polystyrene (GPPS) was a difficult and brittle material to vacuum form. Adding synthetic rubber in the form of poly butadiene dissolved in styrene created high impact polystyrene (HIPS). This hybrid material was easy to vacuum form, retained its key feature of achieving fine detail at low temperature thermoforming, and at the same time improve impact and compression strength.

The combination of a low cost material, lightweight (1.06 g/cm3), good dimensional stability and strength made HIPS the go to material for vacuum formers for point of sale items and small, waterproof housings and enclosures.

This cheap versatile material has evolved in to a vast pallete of opaque colours, matt and gloss surface finishes, emboss textured patterns, outdoor grades, low ignition variants, as well as anti-static grades. With sheet thicknesses ranging from 0.5mm up to 6.0mm HIPS is a remarkably versatile product within Ansini’s range of vacuum formable options.

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