In this post, I will let you know the difference between polycarbonate and ABS. If you are in the market for some new luggage, it is important that you know the qualities of the two.
Not all plastics are the same, they have different properties that can drastically change how long they last and the condition they end up in. You really need to know the difference especially if the luggage is quite expensive.
We know that there are a number of materials on the market that luggage is constructed from and polycarbonate and ABS are just a couple.
There are also others such as nylon, polypropylene, aluminum and leather. Let’s focus our attention on polycarbonate and ABS
Let’s look at what they are
What is polycarbonate?
What we really need to know is that polycarbonate is near enough impossible to break. It is used in so many things purely because of this toughness. From outdoor furniture to eyeglasses, you would be surprised how common the use of this material is.
Polycarbonate is a very lightweight material with great strength quality. It is impact resistant, which a very desirable quality in luggage. It is also flexible which means it can handle weight pressure when other luggage is stacked on it.
With its strength and impact resistance, you would think this is the perfect material for luggage. It is resistant to weathering, excellent resistance to UV which should help in keeping its color and it can also handle high and low temperatures.
Additionally, they are really easy to mold so you can offer interesting designs and shapes.
This is why polycarbonate luggage is desirable.
What is ABS?
ABS is actually a combination of three properties. The three properties are acrylonitrile, butadiene and styrene.
It is considered a low-cost material mainly due to it’s low level strength. In luggage, this means that cases made from ABS is likely to damage easily with cracking very common. Essentially, ABS offer the worst durability.
However, ABS’s low cost and light weight means that it is still used in luggage manufacture. When comparing to polycarbonate, you can see the inferiority. We will highlight the differences next.
Difference between polycarbonate and ABS in luggage
Polycarbonate is considered the more durable material and therefore more desirable in luggage. It has better impact resistance and flexibility meaning that it can be pushed back into shape.
ABS is the lighter weight of the two but that is only one factor when considering what luggage to buy. Lightweight luggage is desirable as it means you can pack more of your own belongings within the limits of an airline. However, this has to be balanced against the risk that damage may occur, a greater risk if your luggage is made from ABS.
ABS luggage is cheaper to manufacture and retail when compared to Polycarbonate. It is therefore popular in budget luggage markets where the pricing really reflects the quality. Mid-range luggage markets use Polycarbonate or other materials like Aluminum where the durability and quality is better. If you are using pricing as a guide, be aware of what you are buying and its limitations.
There is very little difference here except it can be argued that the Polycarbonate luggage offers designers more flexibility with styles and textures. ABS is limited in this respect.
ABS vs Polycarbonate luggage
ABS luggage dominates the budget market because it is lightweight and cheap to buy. It is not particularly durable and is prone to damage, especially when checked in at an airport.
You should only consider ABS if you have a limited budget or are not buying it for international air travel.
Polycarbonate luggage is normally offered and mid to upper price tiers. It is a much more robust material therefore more durable. Any dents can literally be pushed out and back to its normal shape.
It is preferable to choose this material over ABS as you are getting a better quality and robust material.
You will therefore get much more value from polycarbonate luggage as it will last longer than ABS luggage…in most scenarios.
Other Hardside luggage materials
Not as popular as polycarbonate or ABS, it is still a viable option. It is a flexible material that’s is more so than ABS, but not as flexible as polycarbonate.
It is incredibly light so if you need a very light suitcase, this may well be a realistic option for you.
PVC is not a very popular option in terms of sales but it is still a viable option for those at the low budget end of the market. It will not do a great job protecting your contents but it is very lightweight.
Its flexibility is one of its attractive points, often it is mixed with polycarbonate and ABS to give them the flexible property.
Choosing the right suitcase is important as a little incident can ruin a whole vacation. The reality is that your luggage could be battered and bruised while it is transported across airports and airlines.
I discussed the viability and the difference between polycarbonate and ABS. If you are considering the two options, I would highly recommend the polycarbonate option.
In most cases, it is more expensive. However, you should consider the durability and longevity before making your decision.
Therefore, if budget permits, you should be looking at your suitcase as an investment. Buying cheap ABS luggage, no matter how attractive it looks, can be a false economy.
Let me know what you think…have you bought polycarbonate or ABS luggage…let me know your thoughts and experiences.
Is ABS the same as polycarbonate?
No, ABS and polycarbonates are both plastics but they are structurally different with different properties. ABS consist of three properties, which are acrylonitrile, butadiene and styrene.
Which is better, ABS or polycarbonate luggage?
There is a luggage market for both these options. In most cases, it is the budget that determines the ‘best’ choice. However, the properties and construction of polycarbonates makes it a clear winner.
Which luggage material is the most durable?
Polycarbonate is the most durable material that is plastic based. Obviously aluminum is the best but most costly option.
What is better Polypropylene or ABS?
If I was to rank the quality of luggage, I would state that polycarbonate is the best option followed by polypropylene. ABS would come last.
Are hard or soft suitcases better?
There are benefits and disadvantages of both. It really depends on your circumstances and what features are important to you.
Hard suitcases offer better protection of the contents, better durability and better security. However, they are not flexible so transportation can be an issue as well as fitting them into overhead lockers where space is an issue.
Soft luggage is more flexible in that respect; however, it is not as durable and is damaged relatively easily. It is also less secure and easier to steal from.