You are having a car or watching television or gifting a toy to your child or even flying an aircraft, Plastic is everywhere. We can’t even think of our life without plastic. In plastic part design often we come across this confusion about Thermoplastic vs Thermosetting plastic. So in this article, we will explain about Difference between thermoplastic and thermosetting plastics.
What is Plastic
Plastic or in the chemical term we call it as “Polymer” is formed when multiple monomers bonds together using a chemical reaction. Molecules are bonded together to form plastics. Usually, monomers are made of carbon and hydrogen but it may also contain oxygen, nitrogen and other gases.
Although there are natural polymers the recent industry trend is that businesses create their own commercial polymers as per their need. This helps them to get the required mechanical and chemical properties in the said plastic.
Commercial plastics use additives, colour, fibres and other chemicals to get enhanced properties which are suitable for different applications. In this article, we will find out the differences between Thermoplastics and thermosetting plastics.
- What is Plastic
- Difference Between Thermoplastic and Thermosetting Plastics
- Difference Between Thermoplastics and Thermosetting plastics: Comparison
- Frequently Asked Questions
Also Read: Why plastics are replacing metals
Difference Between Thermoplastic and Thermosetting Plastics
This is the confusion among many engineers when they get into the plastic part design or plastic mould design. Although both sounds similar but both have a major difference in the way they respond when the heat is applied.
What is Thermoplastic
Thermoplastics are polymers which when heated gets melted and form the desired shape. It can be re-melted and it can get different shape. So thermoplastic can be used and formed multiple times without hampering the chemical or mechanical properties up to some extent.
Thermoplastics are recyclable as can be used multiple times. The melting point is comparatively low. This kind of plastic offers more ductility and can absorb impact load very well. They are very sensitive to heat and not used where extreme heat is encountered.
Most of the plastic that we see in our day to day life is Thermoplastic. In facts 80% of polymers found in the market are Thermoplastics. Though it’s costlier than thermosetting due to its recycled nature and properties to mould into anything makes it an ideal choice for industries.
Though thermoplastics can be melted and moulded multiple times with each cycle it loses its properties. So there is a limit on how many times you can remould thermoplastics. When we use re-melted plastics in the mold we call it as regrind plastic. It’s an industry standard to use 10% regrind plastic and 90% virgin plastic in major applications.
Advantages Of Thermoplastics
- Can be remoulded multiple times
- Can take any shape
- Additives, colour, fibres can be added easily
- Regrind possible.
- Reshaping capabilities available.
- Offers good impact resistance
- Usually chemical resistant
- Superior finish is possible.
- Can be moulded with other polymers
- Wide range of commercial applications.
Disadvantages of Thermoplastics
- Not suitable for the high-temperature zone.
- Not strong enough to withstand enough load
- Regrind possible only for a few times.
- Gets melt easily under heat
- Costlier than thermosetting
Example of major commercial Thermoplastics
- ABS- Acreno butadiene styrene
- HIPS- High impact polystyrene
- PC- Polycarbonate
- PVC- Polyvinyl chloride
- PS- Polystyrene
Also read : Two plate mold vs Three plate mold
What is Thermosetting plastics
Thermoset plastics gets melted when the heat is applied and get the desired shape. But it can not be remelted due to the cross-linking polymerisation. Thermoset plastics once moulded are unaffected by any solvent or heat.
Thermoset plastics are usually brittle in nature and can not absorb impact loading, however, static loading capacity is great. So thermosets are usually used where static loading are of importance.
Since Thermoset plastics can withstand heat, often those are used where extreme heat might get encountered like home appliances, electronic products etc. This type of plastic is also used in sealant applications as they don’t deform over time or temperature.
It’s a recent trend to use Thermoset plastic over metal as a load-carrying capacity of thermosets can be compared with metals. Though this type of transition is not very popular industries are moving away from metals to save on material cost and manufacturing cost.
Advantages of thermosets plastics
- Can withstand enormous heat
- Does not deform or melt when the heat is applied
- Excellent strength and load-carrying capacity.
- An excellent option to replace metals.
- Cost-effective plastic
Disadvantages of Thermoset plastics
- Can not absorb impact loading
- More of a brittle in nature than ductile
- Greater finishes not possible.
- Can not be remoulded.
- Can not be recycled.
Example of commercial Thermoset plastics
- Epoxy resins
- Phenolic resins
Also read : Types Of injection Mold
Difference Between Thermoplastics and Thermosetting plastics: Comparison
|1||They are liner polymers||They are crosslinked polymers|
|2||Can be reused multiple times||Can not be reused|
|3||Low melting point||High melting point|
|4||Low strength||High strength|
|5||High impact resistance||Low impact resistance|
|6||Not fireproof||Usually fireproof up to some extent.|
|7||No chemical reaction during moulding||Undergo chemical reaction during moulding|
|8||Ductile in nature||Brittle in nature|
|9||Affected by solvent||Not affected by solvent|
|10||More varieties of plastics available||Less varieties of plastics available|
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Thermoplastic Plastic
Thermoplastics are types of polymer which can be remoulded multiple times and very prone get melted when the heat is applied. No chemical reaction during moulding
What is Thermosetting Plastic
Thermosetting plastics are types of polymer which can not be remoulded if it gets moulded once. Offer high temperature resistant and very strong to carry the load. Undergo a chemical reaction during moulding.
Which type of plastic is widely used?
Thermoplastics are widely used in commercial applications. Roughly 80% of plastics parts are thermoplastics.
Both thermoplastics and thermosets are widely used in commercial application and both have their pros and cons. The primary difference between Thermoplastics and thermosetting plastics is how they respond to heat due to the chemical structure.
If there is one major difference that distinguished both plastics is that Thermoplastic can be reused but Thermoset plastic can not be.
I hope you had a fair amount of idea about the difference between Thermoplastics and thermosetting plastics If you still have questions or doubts then do write in the comment section and we can take it forward from there.