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Lego ABS plastic

Know Your Plastics - Show us those ABS!

shop display cameras

At the gym, I've been on a long search for my Abs. Today, we don't have to look so far, as ABS are everywhere - otherwise known as Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene. Let's check out this plastic and evaluate its suitability and safety for retail display fittings and fixtures.

As the dad of a young child, I often stand on small, unseen pieces of ABS. LEGO and many other toys are made from ABS, so we can tick the first box - it can't be all bad if the government says it's ok for children to use. 

So should we use ABS in Retail Display? And if so - where? Let's consider the pros and cons.


A feature of ABS is it is strong and durable with high impact resistance. The keys on your computer keyboard are probably made from ABS. Housings for cameras and power tools. In fact, any type of cover that needs to stand up to impact - ABS can be a fantastic option. On the other hand, sunlight will cause ABS to deteriorate, becoming brittle, so consider this if your display items are liekly to be in direct sun.


The finish on ABS is excellent, though there is a trade-off here. Mold it a high temperature and you achieve the best finish; molding at lower temperatures delivers a stronger plastic. This is important - when specifying your display product, describe the application and environment in detail, to help prioritise Finish and Strength. 

ABS in its natural form is white in colour. This makes it very easy to achieve bright colours in the final product. Even better - it's not prone to fade! Looks like a winner here, right?


You'd like to think that if toys are made from ABS, it's not toxic - and for this purpose, it is regarded as safe. For Retail Display, we have other considerations. I'm commonly asked if ABS is food-safe. Under heat, ABS can leach - often, this is the pigment or dye that has been added. ABS is also not to be washed in a dishwasher. Therefore, it is recommended not to use ABS in direct contact with foods. 


So what does this amazing material cost? Great news - it's a relatively inexpensive raw material, when compared with other plastics. What's more, manufacturers are delighted to use it, as it is a very easy plastic to work with. It machines well and can be molded very easily - and then there's that sparkling finish. 

In Summary

Many retail display items can be made from ABS to deliver strong, good-looking fittings within a budget. Just remember - no food, no dishwashers or microwaves and no sunlight!

Author profile

Steve Nelson believes in incredible retail spaces that sustain communities. Steve is a Retail Display specialist, who has worked with iconic retailers across the globe. As leader of Euroswift Retail Creations in Australia, his focus is delivering solutions and techniques that help retailers develop dexterity at the shop floor, to predict the needs of their local community and react rapidly. Connect with Steve on LinkedIn

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