Thermoplastic Vs Thermosetting Plastic: What’s the Difference?

What is Thermosetting Plastic?

Thermosetting plastic is a polymer that irreversibly becomes rigid when heated. Such a material is also known as a thermoset or thermosetting polymer. Initially, the polymer is a liquid or soft solid. Heat provides energy for chemical reactions that increase the cross-linking between polymer chains, curing the plastic.

Thermosetting plastics are made up of long chains of molecules that are cross-linked. They have a very rigid structure. Once heated, thermosetting plastics can be molded, shaped, and pressed into shapes. Once set they cannot be reheated since they are permanently set.

Thermosetting plastics are generally stronger than thermoplastic materials due to the three-dimensional network of bonds (crosslinking), and are also better suited to high-temperature applications up to the decomposition temperature since they keep their shape as strong covalent bonds between polymer chains cannot be broken easily.

The higher the crosslink density and aromatic content of a thermoset polymer, the higher the resistance to heat degradation and chemical attack. Mechanical strength and hardness also improve with crosslink density, although at the expense of brittleness. They normally decompose before melting.

Thermosetting Plastic Examples

Example of thermosetting plastic:

  • Epoxy Resin
  • Phenolic(Bakelite)
  • Vinyl Ester Resin
  • Cyanate Ester
  • Poly Ester
  • Silicone
  • Polyurethane, and
  • phenolic

Uses of Thermosetting Plastics

Some of the common uses of thermosetting polymers are:

  • Thermosetting plastics are heat resistance, so they are used in making of kettles, plugs, laptop chargers, etc.
  • They used in Electrical fittings, handles and control knobs, adhesives
  • Thermoset components are used extensively in a wide range of industries – and are used for applications in the automotive, appliance, electrical, lighting, and energy markets due to excellent chemical and thermal stability along with superior strength, hardness, and moldability.
  • These are used to produce construction equipment panels.
  • These are used in agricultural equipment’s including feeding troughs and motors.

Advantages of Thermosetting Plastics

The benefits that thermoset plastics can offer over their metal counterparts include:

  • Choice of color and surface finishes
  • Resistance to corrosion effects and water
  • Available molded-in tolerances
  • High mechanical property
  • Low thermal conductivity and microwave transparency
  • High strength-to-weight ratio and performance
  • Outstanding dielectric strength
  • Lower tooling/set-up costs
  • Cost-effective
  • Excellent dimensional stability
  • Reduced production costs over fabrication using metals

Disadvantages of Thermosetting Plastic

There are certain disadvantages to the use of thermosets:

  • It cannot be recycled.
  • low tensile strength and ductility
  • It cannot be remolded or reshaped.
  • Poor thermal conductivity for housing replacements.
  • Much more difficult to surface finish.
  • The rigidity of the material can result in product failure when used in high vibration applications.
Thermoplastic and Thermosetting plastic

What is Thermoplastic?

A thermoplastic, or thermo softening plastic, is a plastic polymer material that becomes pliable or moldable at a certain elevated temperature and solidifies upon cooling. Thermoplastics differ from thermosetting polymers (or “thermosets”), which form irreversible chemical bonds during the curing process.

A thermoplastic is a material, usually, a plastic polymer, which becomes softer when heated and hard when cooled. Thermoplastic materials can be cooled and heated several times without any change in their chemical or mechanical properties.

When thermoplastics are heated to their melting point, they melt into a liquid. They freeze to a glassy state when cooled below their glass transition temperature.

Most thermoplastics have a high molecular weight. The polymer chains associate with intermolecular forces, which weaken rapidly with increased temperature, yielding a viscous liquid.

In this state, thermoplastics may be reshaped and are typically used to produce parts by various polymer processing techniques such as injection molding, compression molding, calendering, and extrusion.

Thermoplastic materials have many features. Some products made from thermoplastic materials are used for electronic applications. They protect against electrostatic discharge and radio frequency interference. Thermoplastics are one of the main two types of plastics.

Thermoplastic can be molded into any shape. Thermoplastics differ from thermosetting polymers. Thermosets form irreversible chemical bonds during the curing process.

Examples of thermoplastic

Examples of thermoplastic materials are polyethylene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, polyamides, polyesters, and polyurethanes. High-temperature thermoplastics include polyetherether ketones, liquid crystalline polymers, polysulfones, and polyphenylene sulfide.

  • Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) is a thermoplastic used to manufacture:
    • Sports equipment.
    • Toys.
    • Various automobile parts 
  • Polycarbonate is used to make:
    • CDs and DVDs.
    • Drinking bottles
    • Food storage containers
    • Eyeglass lenses.
  • Polyethylene is probably the most common thermoplastic and is used to make:
    • Shampoo bottles.
    • Plastic grocery bags.
    • Bullet-proof vests.

Advantages of Thermoplastics

The primary advantage of thermoplastics is a wide range of applications:

  • Extremely adhesive to metal
  • Thermoplastics are lightweight materials,
  • High strength, and have relatively low processing costs.
  • High recyclable
  • Superb impact resistance and can be remolded and reshaped
  • Excellent corrosion resistance and detergent and chemical resistance
  • Slip enhancement
  • Flexibility and elongation of the coating film
  • Electrical insulation
  • Aesthetically-superior finishes

Disadvantages of Thermoplastics

  • Thermoplastics degrade more easily in direct sunlight or under UV exposure
  • Not all thermoplastics resist hydrocarbons, organic solvents, and polar solvents
  • Some types of experience creep under long-term loading
  • Can fracture rather than deform under high stress

The difference between thermoplastic and thermosetting plastic

The primary difference between the two is that Thermoset is a material that strengthens when heated, but cannot be remolded or heated after the initial forming, while thermoplastics can be reheated, remolded, and cooled as necessary without causing any chemical changes.

ThermoplasticThermosetting Plastic
Thermoplastic can be synthesized by the process called addition polymerization.Thermosetting plastics are synthesized by condensation polymerization.
Thermoplastic is processed by injection molding, extrusion process, blow molding, thermoforming process, and rotational molding.Thermosetting Plastic is processed by compression molding, reaction injection molding.
Thermoplastics have secondary bonds between molecular chains.Thermosetting plastics have primary bonds between molecular chains and held together by strong cross-links.
Thermoplastics have low melting points and low tensile strength.Thermosetting plastics have high melting points and tensile strength.
Thermoplastic is lower in molecular weight, compared to thermosetting plastic.Thermosetting Plastic is high in molecular weight.

FAQs.

What is Thermosetting Plastic?

Thermosetting plastic is a polymer that irreversibly becomes rigid when heated. Such a material is also known as a thermoset or thermosetting polymer. Initially, the polymer is a liquid or soft solid. Heat provides energy for chemical reactions that increase the cross-linking between polymer chains, curing the plastic.

What is Thermoplastic?

A thermoplastic, or thermo softening plastic, is a plastic polymer material that becomes pliable or moldable at a certain elevated temperature and solidifies upon cooling. Thermoplastics differ from thermosetting polymers (or “thermosets”), which form irreversible chemical bonds during the curing process.

What is the main difference between thermoplastic and thermosetting plastic?

The primary difference between the two is that Thermoset is a material that strengthens when heated, but cannot be remolded or heated after the initial forming, while thermoplastics can be reheated, remolded, and cooled as necessary without causing any chemical changes.

What are examples of thermoplastics?

Examples of thermoplastic materials are polyethylene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, polyamides, polyesters, and polyurethanes. High-temperature thermoplastics include polyether ether ketones, liquid crystalline polymers, polysulfones, and polyphenylene sulfide.

What is the Difference between Thermoset and Thermoplastic?

Thermosetting plastics and thermoplastics are both polymers, but they behave differently when exposed to heat. Thermoplastics can melt under heat after curing while thermoset plastics retain their form and stay solid under heat once cured.

What are thermoplastics and thermosetting plastics give examples?

Thermoplastics have the capability to soften on heating and hard on cooling. Examples for Thermoplastics are Polythene, Polypropylene, Polystyrene, Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), etc. Thermosetting polymers are cross-linked polymers and heavily branched chains.

What is thermoplastics example?

Common examples of thermoplastics include acrylic, polyester, polypropylene, polystyrene, nylon, and Teflon. These materials see a wide variety of use in manufacturing products from clothing and non-stick cookware to carpets and laboratory equipment.

Which is a thermosetting plastic?

Melamine is a thermosetting plastic, as it cannot be re-shaped once it is being molded in a particular shape. Melamine resin is durable, fire and heat-resistant and virtually unbreakable, making melamine products more desirable than other plastic housewares.

Is PVC a thermosetting plastic?

Plastics can be categorized as either thermosetting or thermoplastic. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is considered a thermoplastic. Thermoplastics become moldable above a specific temperature and then return back to a solid when cooled.

What are three differences between thermoplastics and thermoset materials?

Thermoplastics have low melting points and low tensile strength. Thermosetting plastics have high melting points and tensile strength. Thermoplastic is lower in molecular weight, compared to thermosetting plastic. Thermosetting Plastic is high in molecular weight.

What is called thermoplastic?

A thermoplastic is a class of polymer that can be softened through heating and then processed using methods such as extrusion, injection molding, thermoforming, and blow molding.

What are thermosetting and thermoplastic resins?

Thermoplastic resins and thermosetting plastic offer two separate classes of polymers with their own characteristics. Thermoplastics are used for a wide array of applications from plastic bags to mechanical parts. In contrast, thermosetting plastic can withstand very high temperatures.

Which of the following is a thermoplastic?

The correct answer is PVC. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is considered as a thermoplastic. A thermoplastic is a substance that becomes softer when heated and hard when cooled, typically a plastic polymer.

Is Bakelite thermoplastic or thermosetting plastic?

Polyoxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydride, better known as Bakelite, was the first plastic made from synthetic components. It is a thermosetting phenol formaldehyde resin, formed from a condensation reaction of phenol with formaldehyde.

Is UPVC thermoplastic or thermosetting plastic?

Polyvinyl Chloride is a “thermoplastic” (as opposed to “thermoset”) material, which has to do with the way the plastic responds to heat.

Is vinyl thermoplastic or thermosetting?

Polyvinyl Chloride is a “thermoplastic”. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC or Vinyl) is a high-strength thermoplastic material widely used in applications, such as pipes, medical devices, wire, and cable insulation and the list is endless. It is the world’s third-most widely produced synthetic plastic polymer.

How are thermosetting polymers made?

In general, thermoset products are made through liquid molding processes. The polymers and other agents are fed into tanks or barrels, where they are heated to a liquid state and mixed. Then the liquid polymers and other agents are injected into a mold cavity.

What are plastic materials?

Plastics are a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic materials that use polymers as the main ingredient. Their plasticity makes it possible for plastics to be molded, extruded, or pressed into solid objects of various shapes.

Why is thermoplastic used?

Much of it is used by the construction industry, such as for vinyl siding, drainpipes, gutters, and roofing sheets. It is also converted to flexible forms with the addition of plasticizers, thereby making it useful for items such as hoses, tubing, electrical insulation, coats, jackets, and upholstery.

Is nylon a thermoplastic or thermoset?

Nylon is classified as a “thermoplastic” (as opposed to “thermoset”) material, which refers to the way the plastic responds to heat. Thermoplastic materials become liquid at their melting point – a very high 220 degrees Celsius in the case of Nylon.

Is acrylic thermosetting or thermoplastic?

Generally, acrylics are considered thermoplastics. This includes both continuously manufactured and cell cast acrylic sheets. A thermoplastic is a resin or plastic compound that, as a finished material, is capable of being repeatedly softened by heating and hardened by cooling.

Is a thermosetting polymer?

In materials science, a thermosetting polymer often called a thermoset, is a polymer that is obtained by irreversibly hardening (“curing”) a soft solid or viscous liquid prepolymer (resin).

Is polyethylene a thermoplastic?

Polyethylene (PE), a member of the important family of polyolefin resin, is the most widely used plastic in the world. They are prepared by the catalytic polymerization of ethylene. It is a thermoplastic polymer consisting of long chains, produced by a combination of the monomer molecules, i.e., ethylene.

Why is Bakelite called thermosetting plastic?

Bakelite contains cross-links or heavily branched polymer chains. Bakelite polymer, upon heating, is hardened and cannot be softened again. Hence, it is a thermosetting polymer.