Difference Between ABS and PVC

Main Difference – ABS vs PVC

Polymers are giant molecules composed of a large number of repeating units. ABS and PVC are polymer compounds. ABS is produced from three types of monomers: styrene, acrylonitrile, and butadiene. PVC is formed from vinyl chloride monomers. Both these polymer materials are popular in the production of pipes due to their high chemical resistant properties. But the material is chosen differently at different applications based on the properties of the final product required. The main difference between ABS and PVC is that ABS is less durable whereas PVC is highly durable.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is ABS
     
– Definition, Applications with respect to Favorable Properties
2. What is PVC
     
– Definition and Applications with Properties
3. What is the Difference Between ABS and PVC
     
– Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms: ABS, Acrylonitrile, Butadiene, Monomers, Polymers, PVC, Styrene, Vinyl Chloride

Difference ABS and PVC - Comparison Summary

What is ABS

ABS is acrylonitrile butadiene styrene. It is a thermoplastic polymer. This polymer material is amorphous. ABS is produced from three types of monomers: styrene, acrylonitrile, and butadiene. Here, styrene and acrylonitrile are subjected to undergo polymerization in the presence of polybutadiene.

Main Difference - ABS vs  PVC

Figure 1: Monomers used in the production of ABS

One major application of ABS is to make pipes. ABS pipes are normally black colored and are composed of foam, filled between two solid layers of plastic. These pipes are light and flexible. However, ABS undergoes degradation on prolonged exposure to sunlight.

Since ABS is a thermoplastic material, it can be easily recycled. This is because they can be heated to their melting point, cooled, and re-heated again without significant degradation. This means the most common method of producing ABS is by recycling the pre-existed ABS material. But ABS products are less durable when compared to other polymer materials.

ABS has a higher melting point. Since it is an amorphous polymer, its true melting point cannot be calculated. The glass transition temperature is about 105oC. Due to these properties of ABS, it is used in automotive applications such as wheel covers, mirror, and headlight housing.

What is PVC

PVC stands for Polyvinyl Chloride. The most accurate way of writing this name is Poly (vinyl chloride). This is because PVC is the polymer of vinyl chloride monomer. It is a synthetic plastic polymer. Vinyl chloride monomer is formed from the reaction between ethylene and chlorine gas. PVC is formed by the polymerization of vinyl chloride monomer.

Difference Between ABS and PVC

Figure 2: Polymerization of Vinyl Chloride Monomer

The major application of PVC is also the production of pipes. PVC pipes are often cream-colored. These pipes are made from a solid plastic material. Unlike ABS pipes, PVC pipes are strong, rigid and are resistant to degradation by sunlight. Therefore PVC pipes are highly durable.

PVC can be made either as a flexible plastic or a rigid plastic by means of additives. The melting point of PVC is normally 2120C. Glass transition temperature is about 810C. Glass transition temperature is the temperature at which the polymer transits from a hard glassy state to a rubbery state upon the increasing of temperature.

Difference Between ABS and PVC

Definition

ABS: ABS stands for acrylonitrile butadiene styrene.

PVC: PVC stands for Polyvinyl Chloride.

Durability

ABS: ABS is less durable.

PVC: PVC is highly durable.

Degradation

ABS: ABS undergoes photodegradation when exposed to sunlight.

PVC: PVC is resistant to degradation that happens due to sunlight.

Nature

ABS: ABS products are light and flexible.

PVC: PVC products are rigid and strong.

Glass Transition Temperature

ABS: Glass transition temperature of ABS is about 1050C.

PVC: Glass transition temperature of PVC is about 810C.

Conclusion

ABS and PVC are polymer materials. They are well-known for the production of pipes. They have different chemical and physical properties as discussed above in this article. The main difference between ABS and PVC is their durability.

References:

1. “Poly(Vinyl Chloride).” The Polymer Science Learning Center, Available here.
2. “Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 13 Oct. 2017, Available here.
3.  “PVC and Additives”. British Plastics Federation, Available here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “ABS resin formula” By H Padleckas at English Wikipedia – Own work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “PVC-polymerisation-2D” (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Madhusha

Madhusha is a BSc (Hons) graduate in the field of Biological Sciences and is currently pursuing for her Masters in Industrial and Environmental Chemistry. Her interest areas for writing and research include Biochemistry and Environmental Chemistry.

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