High Impact Polystyrene: Properties, Features, and Uses

It won’t be wrong to say that the use of plastic has become inevitable. You can find its usage in almost all walks of life. Well, there are some high-grade plastics like High Impact Polystyrene or HIPS. These are used in the plastics industry. It is a lightweight material on which printing can be done comfortably. The plastic is used for indoor signage, pop display and many other kinds of displays. HIPS is a very stiff material but is of low strength. It can be used in making toys, televisions, appliances, and car components. This also has its usage in the food industry, and many utensils are made with this.

Features of HIPS:

The glossy material can be processed easily and many durable products can be made with this. Because of its high resistive properties, High Impact Polystyrene is used in various industries. This product is hygienic and attractive.

Physical Properties of HIPS:

  • Tensile Strength – 3130 psi
  • Specific Gravity – 1.04g/cm
  • Impact Strength – 2.20ft.-lb/in
  • Flexural Strength – 4620 psi

Key Features of HIPS and Its Uses:

HIPS finds a wide array of use across different industries. Here are some of the common use of HIPS:

Modified Form of Polystyrene

One of the first things you should know about HIPS is that this is a modified form of polystyrene. It is transparent. Its most basic form is crystal High Impact Polystyrene. One of its forms is GPPS or general-purpose polystyrene, which is created by polymerization of styrene monomer. Another form is EPS or expandable polystyrene, which is foamed and is known as Styrofoam. The main usage if this material is making foam meat trays and foam egg trays.

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High Impact Strength

The high impact strength of HIPS makes it a brittle product. One such product is homopolymer HIPS. This is an impact-resistant material, and this property can further be enhanced by adding other materials like butadiene copolymer or rubber, which helps in increasing the strength of HIPS. The mixture of High Impact Polystyrene with these materials creates a stiff material, which can be used to make other products for packaging application. These packaging materials can be used in various types of industries.

Amorphous Polymer

Solid-state polymers consist of two types of morphology, which include amorphous and semi-crystalline. The semi-crystalline polymer has tightly packed molecular chains. In the case of an amorphous polymer, the molecules are not organized. They are intertwined and oriented in a random form. HIPS is one such amorphous polymer, which has the property of less shrinkage in comparison to the semi-crystalline polymer. The natural look of High Impact Polystyrene is a translucent white material.

Compatibility with Food Packaging Applications

We have seen a wide usage of plastics in the food industry. Whether it is for packaging or storage, HIPS forms a great material for making storage container. Since this polymer is approved by the FDA, this material is used for making food-grade plastic. Another feature, which makes it compatible in the food packaging industry, is its resistance to moisture. The environmental stress crack resistance property helps it in packaging fatty foods like butter.


HIPS is also used in the printing industry where a variety of printing methods can be applied to it. Some of the printing methods that can be applied to it are screen printing, flexography, and offset lithography. Corona treatment processes can also be done with this material. This helps in resolving the problem related to adhesion ion plastic.

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The material can be customized easily and is available in many colors. It can be painted easily and hence they can be customized to form different products.  

Uses of HIPS:

Owing to its multitude of usage, these find application in:

  1. Making POS or Point of Sale Display
  2. Storage container
  3. Tags and labels
  4. Indoor signage
  5. Appliance containers

These are some of the uses of High Impact Polystyrene or HIPS, although this widely used and can be recycled into cups, lids and other products, thus making it a great choice for different industries.

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