Polystyrene (solid or foam) is a general-purpose thermoplastic based on the monomer styrene. It is inert and inexpensive per unit of weight.
It can be found in day-to-day items like the housing on your smoke detector, the CD case you bought your music in, and the red solo cups you drink from at a tailgate or a restaurant. Polystyrene is also a heat-insulating material in building materials.
Oriented Polystyrene (OPS)
You’re probably familiar with styrofoam packaging “peanuts” used to protect small items in shipping, and you may also have consumed food served from containers made from this substance. While non-toxic and odorless, this material is not biodegradable and can leach some of its chemical components into your food or drink.
OPS is a highly clear and strong commodity styrene polymer with good characteristics for heat shrinking and printing, with high rigidity and excellent transparency and gloss. It can be used for decorated shrink labels, envelope and folding carton windows, tamper-evident bands, promotional banding, flower sleeves and unique applications. It is also non-toxic and environmentally friendly. This product is suitable for fully automatic packaging machines and can be heat-shrunk at lower temperatures reducing energy costs. It’s also a perfect choice for frozen food packaging. Manufacturer of sheets, film and fabricated products in custom size, shape and thickness. Capabilities include sheet extrusion, converting, slitting and cutting. Serves aerospace, automotive, electronics, manufacturing, medical/dental and food production industries.
Extruded Polystyrene (XPS)
XPS insulation is a mid-range rigid board insulation product used in residential and commercial construction across all climates. It is a green product with low environmental impacts that has great physical properties. Unlike EPS, which is manufactured with beads that are expanded using heat and steam, XPS is extruded from solid PS beads. This results in a closed-cell insulation with no air voids and has a higher R value per inch.
XP boards are treated with fire retardants to minimize their flammability and spread of flame. They can also be modified to resist water absorption and prevent mold.
Similar to EPS, the R-value of XPS diminishes over time. This is due to a chemical called hydrochlorofluorocarbons that diffuses into the cellular structure of XPS insulation. Some manufacturers have begun to use blowing agents that don’t deplete the ozone layer, but this is not standard practice. ITW Insulation offers a range of XPS insulation products from different manufacturers, each with their own color to distinguish the brand.
Crystal Polystyrene (CPS)
Polystyrene is a thermoset material (that becomes solid at the temperature of its melting point) that’s made by heating styrene monomer, which reacts to form long-chain molecules of the same size. It is typically used in combination with a blowing agent like iso- or n-Pentane, which gives it its low density and clear appearance.
Styrene is an aromatic molecule that smells a bit like toluene or benzene, and it contains two carbon atoms in the side chain instead of just one. This gives the molecule an unsaturated double bond and makes it reactive. It can be made into a plastic by linking together thousands of these molecules into polystyrene. The most common forms of PS are orientated and extruded crystal grades, which are used in injection molded laboratory and diagnostic labware, devices, housewares, office accessories and food packaging. This brittle plastic is also converted into foamed sheets by extrusion. It is sold in a variety of colors.
High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS)
HIPS, a variant of general purpose polystyrene suppliers with rubber additives, is used in low-heat manufacturing processes. It is commonly molded into products like packaging, point-of-sale displays, signs and countertops. Its strong impact resistance and ease of fabrication make it a popular choice for a variety of applications.
It is also FDA-compliant, making it popular in kitchenware and houseware applications, especially food packaging. HIPS is easily thermoformed, and can be printed using digital, screen, lithographic, or offset printing methods. It is easy to paint and glue and can be cut into many different shapes and sizes.
Northland Plastics extrudes standard and custom profiles out of high-impact polystyrene, as well as oriented and expandable. Available in sheets, runners, pellets, regrind and scrap, they serve customers across the US. Their fabrication capabilities include cutting, routing, drilling, bending and polishing. They are a trusted supplier of materials for printing, sign, countertop template and kiosk applications. They can also create custom materials and parts for your project.