Polycarbonate Enclosures vs. ABS Enclosures

polymer and plastics word cloud

Non-metallic electrical enclosures have proven themselves time and again in toughness, reliability and aesthetics. They’re competitive options with metallic enclosures for many applications and, for some, they offer even better performance. Polycase offers two main material types for non-metallic enclosures: polycarbonate and ABS. If you’re seeking high-performance enclosures at a competitive price, either can be an excellent choice.

But which offers superior features and functionality—an ABS plastic enclosure or a polycarbonate enclosure? The only correct answer, of course, is “whichever one meets your needs better!” But what are the relevant factors in making this decision, and what solutions does Polycase offer that address them? Find out below!

Polycarbonate and Its Advantages

Polycarbonate is a heavy-duty thermoplastic commonly used for industrial and engineering applications where tough performance is a must. It’s well-known in manufacturing industries for its lightness and resilience, and it’s widely used in applications such as safety glasses, lighting equipment, medical devices and much more.

Reasons why you should consider a polycarbonate enclosure include:

  • The perfect combination of lightness and durability
  • A highly shock-resistant plastic that offers excellent impact protection for your devices
  • Excellent resistance to both hot and cold temperature swings
  • Natural UV filtering abilities can help protect sensitive internal components even in a transparent enclosure
  • Available in a wide variety of NEMA and IP ratings

For outdoor applications, Polycase recommends the use of a polycarbonate enclosure. A well-made polycarbonate enclosure easily steps up to the challenges of withstanding wind, water, heat and more to protect the sensitive components within. They do, however, typically cost more than ABS enclosures.

Polycase WH-14 model

Polycase WH-14 model

ABS and Its Advantages

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, or ABS, is another rugged thermoplastic material that offers great performance at a lower cost than polycarbonate. This polymer is widely used for consumer applications such as luggage, toys and musical instruments, but also has numerous applications in the electronic and industrial fields.

Reasons to consider an ABS enclosure include:

  • Durable performance at an affordable price
  • Highly impact resistant
  • Available in a variety of colors
  • Numerous NEMA and IP ratings available, as well as UL flame ratings

ABS is an excellent choice for indoor applications including desktop electronics. Although it’s heavier than polycarbonate, the material is still extremely lightweight, and durable enough for most indoor applications. It’s also substantially less expensive than polycarbonate.

However, ABS plastic has lower resistance to extreme conditions and industrial chemicals than polycarbonate. If your enclosure is likely to see exposure to high temperatures, solvents or other challenging environments, you most likely need a polycarbonate enclosure.

Polycase XR-35F

Polycase XR-35F

The Non-Metallic Enclosure Experts

Polycase is an industry-leading source of superior plastic enclosures. We offer both polycarbonate enclosures and ABS enclosures at great prices and with great features. Check out some of our most popular models below, in both ABS and polycarbonate.

Polycarbonate Enclosure Models:

  • The SG Series, an ultra-tough German-manufactured outdoor enclosure series that offers an IK08 impact rating
  • The WH Series, NEMA 4X-rated indoor and outdoor enclosures with convenient hinge and latch mechanisms
  • The YQ series, some of our toughest models, featuring a NEMA 6P rating that even protects against prolonged submersion in water

ABS Enclosure Models:

  • The WA Series, a dust-proof and waterproof NEMA 4X-rated enclosure for indoor applications
  • The DC Series, durable electronics enclosures with optional molded on flanges
  • The XR Series, wall-mount ABS enclosures with an attractive modern design and a UL94-5VA flame rating
  • The LP Series, project box enclosures for indoor PCB applications

These models are just the beginning. Our full product line includes an even more expansive range of weatherproof electronics enclosure solutions, including metal enclosures.

Non-metallic enclosures have a lot to offer, whether you need enterprise-scale electronic enclosure solutions or just a project box. And for the best non-metallic enclosures, available online with fast shipping and with customized features, look no further than Polycase! You can get a free quote today in just minutes by using our quote calculator or call us at 1-800-248-1233 to learn more about our complete polycarbonate and ABS enclosure solutions.