Polycarbonate is an amorphous polymer (ie. plastic) with properties that make it ideal for hardside luggage. It has excellent transparency that means it is easy to make in different colors and patterns. It also has high degree of hardness and impact resistance making for durable luggage. Polycarbonate is also highly temperature resistant and has some nice self-extinguishing properties. All good things for hardside luggage, right?
This also means it can be moulded pretty easily into different luggage shapes, making it very flexible and able to take a beating during travel.
Polycarbonate is also popular to use in hardside luggage because it's so lightweight. It can bend and dent and will easily go back to its original shape. It is almost impossible to break and has the highest level of strength of all hardside luggage materials.
ABS is a blend of three kinds of plastics, each with their own unique characteristics.
Acrylonitrile provides chemical and fatigue resistance, hardness, and melt strength.
Butadiene provides good impact resistance.
Styrene provides heat resistance, processability, color and hardness.
Together, ABS is great for impact resistance (ie. luggage handlers), easier processing (making into shapes) and has great mechanical properties: high heat distortion temperature, and gloss property.
This makes ABS ideal for a broad field of applications, including piping and fittings, instrument and appliance housings, tool housings such as hand drills, electric screw drivers, automotive instrument panels and home appliances.
In hardside luggage, ABS is the cheapest hard material used. It's also very light and makes ABS luggage cheaper than most, but unfortunately it's also not the most durable. For most hardside luggage makers, however, they use ABS combined with other materials to make a stronger hardside luggage overall. Be on the lookout for this in the product descriptions or specifications.