The development of acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) resins for use in rotational molding would provide a medium performance material, thus opening doors to new markets for the rotational molding industry. Unfortunately, ABS resins have shown serious problems during the rotational molding process, namely discoloration, bridging, and poor impact strength. It is believed that these effects are due to degradation of the carbon-carbon double bond in the butadiene, through attack by either oxygen or heat. Previous efforts have shown some success in addressing these issues. However, additional improvements are necessary to make ABS resins commercially viable to rotational molders. This study, fourth in a series of similar projects conducted though Brigham Young University, was focused on remediation of the ABS difficulties via two different approaches. First, a survey of several additives was performed with the intent of investigating four different strategies: increased protection from oxygen, decreased butadiene concentration, increased butadiene concentration, and promotion of flow. The best formulation was achieved when 15 wt % of a benzoate ester (XP-2280 available though ChemPoint) was blended into MAGNUM 342 EZ, an ABS resin (The Dow Chemical Company). This formulation showed the best balance between increased impact strength and improvement of cosmetic properties. Second, optimization of several rotational molding processing parameters was executed. These included particle size distribution of the resin, drying of the resin, internal mold atmosphere, and oven temperature. It was found that using coarse particle sizes (ground at 20-mesh rather than the industry standard of 35-mesh) increased the impact strength by about 19%. None of the other parameters proved to have a significant effect upon the system, except for the use of a nitrogen atmosphere, which lowered the impact strength. Final properties testing of this best formulation at the optimal processing conditions showed increased impact strength from 2 ft-lbs (the previous best value) to 8 ft-lbs. There was also a marginal decrease in surface hardness (95 to 78 on the Rockwell R scale) and yield tensile strength (3,900 psi to 3,300 psi). Larger differences were observed in flexural modulus (200,000 psi to 110,000 psi) and heat distortion temperature (95°C to 61°C). Therefore, these formulation and processing changes show a trade-off where stiffness and thermal stability (i.e. flexural modulus and heat distortion temperature) can be sacrificed for an increase in toughness and aesthetics, made manifest by increased impact strength, elimination of bridging, and eradication of discoloration.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Chemical Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





ABS, ABS resins, acrylonitrile, butadiene, styrene, rotational molding, rotomolding, plasticizer, impact strength, bridging