High Impact Polystyrene Sheeting (HIPS) is a synthetic polymer made using the monomer styrene which is a liquid petrochemical. Its chemical formula is (C8H8)n. High Impact Polystyrene Sheeting is a thermoplastic polymer which at room temperature is in a solid state, but if it’s heated at high temperatures of over 100 °C it can then reach glass-liquid transition and becomes a viscous liquid which when cooled, turns rigid. HIPS is also used as a lightweight plastic and because it’s inexpensive to produce this is often why it’s used to manufacture handling trays.
High Impact Polystyrene Sheeting – Properties
The High Impact Polystyrene Sheeting polymer is a long chain hydrocarbon containing alternating carbon centres which are attached to phenyl groups related to benzene. Containing the elements of carbon and hydrogen, the molecules are made of long hydrocarbon chains that contain thousands of atoms. When polystyrene is heated, this means the chains slide past one another and this intermolecular weakness means that it’s flexible and elastic, so it can be molded at high temperatures.
Polystyrene occurs when styrene monomers interconnect. During this process which is known as polymerisation, the carbon-carbon pi bond becomes broken and a new single carbon-carbon bond forms and attaches itself to another styrene monomer in the chain. This sigma bond becomes much stronger than the pi bond which was broken and therefore becomes much more difficult to depolymerise.
HIPS as it’s known is created by adding polybutadiene to the polymerisation process where it then becomes chemically bonded and forms a graft copolymer, meaning that it’s been derived from two or more monomeric species. In advertisements HIPS is often referred to as ‘High Impact Plastic’, although its commercial name is Bextrene.
High Impact Polystyrene Sheeting – Purposes
HIPS is often applied to product casings including toys, CD cases, medical trays, plastic cutlery along with refrigerator linings. Its other main use is in food packaging and this is because it contains beneficial properties which make it strong and durable. Along with being hygienic, it’s capable of retaining heat and its shape when warm water is applied. It’s also ideal for packaging products which are taste and odour sensitive. All of these properties make it ideal for use in the dairy, medical or food packaging industries.
HIPS can also be used to print display signs, POP graphics, translights, tags and cards. HIPS can also provide a printed matte surface which is used on either one or two sided printing applications.

Contact us to discuss the suitability of High Impact Polystyrene Sheeting for your applications.

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