Useful Reference Information

Reference Information

The most commonly used plastic materials are:


  • ABS – Known for its strength, durability and workability.
  • BUTYRATE – Pliable, machinable and durable
  • STYRENE – Compatible, strong and workable
  • ACRYLIC – Rigid, strong and generally brittle
  • COPOLYESTER – Pliable, stress resistant and durable


Plastic has been used whenever possible because it is easier and faster to work with than wood, metal or cardboard. Plastic can be sawed, blade cut, drilled, lathe-turned, carved, sanded and filled. Most standard woodworking tools may be used on plastic and it will not splinter. Plastic parts join in seconds with small amounts of liquid solvent cement. For bonding plastic sheet materials to foam, wood or masonite, Contact Cement can be used. For large sheet stock, many professionals prefer to use counter sunk screws for attachment. A spray adhesive is sometimes easier for small jobs.



ABS has been hailed by professional modelmakers as ‘the best all-around construction material since wood’. Stronger and more rigid than many metals; easier and more flexible to work with than any previous plastic; cleaner and more durable than wood, ABS structural shapes by PLASTRUCT have been used for engineering design models on an international scale since their introduction. ABS is also one of the best plastics for heat or vacuum forming and, of course, has excellent bonding characteristics, not only to itself but to other commonly used plastics.
PLASTRUCT Traditional Structural Shapes are all carefully moulded and extruded to extremely close tolerance and in the colours to best represent the materials being simulated. The plastic we have selected (an ABS formulation) best meets our specifications for stability with just the desired amount of flexibility to minimize the shock.
ABS is a thermoplastic terpolymer combining the best qualities of the Acrylics, Butyrates and Styrenes. It is more than half again as rigid as its cousin, Styrene, and size for size, is nearly as rigid as brass. Extremely resistant to most acids and alkalines, the ABS lustrous surface is unaffected by most chemicals, even lacquer - a property unheard of in the early plastics. Unlike wood and brass, PLASTRUCT ABS Traditional Structural Shapes require no priming, sanding, or sealing to enhance its hard finish. But like even the most primitive plastics, ABS bonds easily, quickly and with a minimum of fuss.



The material used in our Traditional Round Tubing medium is Butyrate plastic. It has proven to be ideal because it is so convenient to work with. It can be cut, turned, drilled, painted and easily cemented. The Tubing and Tubing Fittings are manufactured to provide a good friction fit and maintain the outside diameter; splines on the male Fittings accomplish tight fit and prevent undesired rotation and still allow intentional turning. This feature permits cementing to be a final operation. The telescoping sizes of the pipe combined with the workability makes improvisation quite simple.
Butyrate can be lathe-turned in the same manner as brass or Cast Acrylic. Grind the cutting tool to provide chip clearance. The resultant turnings will have a polished surface. This material can also be drilled, tapped, carved or saw cut. Very slow speed is required for machine sanding.
Fittings can be more readily attached to Tubing, particularly in sizes 5/16” and over, if the pipe is screwed onto the Fitting. Always rotate the Tubing in the same direction whether attaching or removing the fitting.



Styrene (also known as Hi-Impact PolyStyrene) is the most commonly used plastic in moulded plastic kits (Model Railroad, Automobile, Airplane and Ship). For that reason, we have chosen Styrene as the medium in our new FineLine Structural model parts for compatability in kit-bashing. It may be combined with wood, metal and other plastics using special glues or cements. Styrene has a tendancy to be brittle, especially after lengthy U.V. exposure or painting. It is easily warped by solvents, so care must be taken when cementing flat sheets for walls, and reinforcement bracing is recommended. When constructing closed tanks or structures, venting is recommended to allow the inside and outside temperatures to equalise. Styrene has excellent forming characteristics and bonds rapidly and permanently. Styrene plastic cuts easily using the ‘scribe and break’ method. Only use Enamel, Alkyd Oil, Latex or Acrylic paints specified for Styrene plastics.



Acrylic is the most rigid and brittle of these plastics. Acrylic is processed in threem ethods; cast, extruded and moulded. It is usually warp-free. When used for model making, Acrylic is usually used in tubing and thick sheet form, cubes and balls, and round, square and triangular rod. Acrylic accepts most paints, including lacquer.



Copolyester (also known as P.E.T.G.) is tougher and less prone to split or shatter thanA crylic. It has excellent clarity in sheet form, and is resistant to stress whitening. It is easily formable and not prone to warp. Copolyester is quite stable and bonds well to itself, however, with most other plastics a special industrial grade Cyanoacrylate Glue is recommended. Accepts most paints, including lacquer.