Thermoplastic and thermosetting plastic have relatively similar names, but they differ in terms of their characteristics, uses, and manufacturing and processing methods. Manufacturers and product designers may enhance their goods by better understanding the distinctions between thermoplastics and thermosets.

What is Thermoset plastics

Contrary to thermoplastics, thermosets (sometimes referred to as thermosetting plastics or thermosetting polymers) are substances that, once cured, stay permanently solid. During the curing phase, the material's polymers cross-link to produce an unbreakable, irreversible connection. This implies that even at extremely high temperatures, thermosets will not melt.

Pros and Cons of Thermoset

Resist corrosionInability to reshape or remold
Good electrical insulation propertiesUnrecyclable
Resist water

More difficult to surface finish

Strong dimensional stability
Resist heat at high temperatures

Highly flexible design

Low thermal conductivity

High levels of dimensional stability

Applications of Thermoset plastics

Thermosetting polymers, which provide an outstanding balance of chemical resistance, structural robustness, and thermal stability, are widely employed across a variety of sectors since they provide an affordable way to satisfy numerous manufacturing criteria. They can be readily shaped into intricate geometric designs that are difficult to fabricate using metal, and components created using RIM and RTM processes allow for high levels of consistency during the creation process.

Applications consist of:

  • Pipes, fittings, or cell coverings used in the manufacture of chlorine and other chemicals
  • housings for electrical or medical equipment, and its components
  • heavy door, panel, or house building or transporting equipment
  • Feeding troughs for livestock and other agricultural goods
  • tractor and automobile parts
  • parts of military vehicles

What is Thermoplastics

No matter if it's a liquid or a solid, thermoplastics are a type of polymers that retain the same chemical structure. This enables it to be heated, solidified, and then melted once more. Think of thermoplastics as being similar to butter: they can be purchased in solid form, can be heated to a melted state, and can then be cooled to a solid state with no noticeable changes.

Pros and Cons of Thermoplastics

Resist corrosionNot suited to all applications due to softening when heated
It can be remolded and reshapedTypically more expensive than thermosetting polymers
Can be recycled

Can melt if heated

High-quality aesthetic finish

Generally more expensive than thermoset

High impact resistance
Resist Chipping
Superb electrical insulation
Enhanced anti-slip properties

Applications of Thermoplastics

Almost every sector uses thermoplastics, which are used in anything from milk containers to pipe systems. Thermoplastics perform well as a replacement for metals because they can tolerate corrosive environments, but they cannot withstand high temperatures as well as thermosets.

Applications include:

  • Fabricating ropes or belts
  • Insulating electrical cabling
  • Liquid storage tanks
  • Protective covers for rigid equipment
  • Construction, electronics, medical and biomedical, food and beverage, chemical, automotive, plumbing, and many more sectors also use thermoplastics.

What is the Difference between Thermoset and Thermoplastic?

Both thermosets and thermoplastics are types of polymers, but they react to heat in very different ways. The major distinction between thermosets and thermoplastics is that thermosets maintain their form after curing whereas thermoplastics can melt when heated.

While items manufactured from thermosets can survive high temperatures without deforming and are thus thought to be more durable by nature, materials made from thermoplastics have a low melting point that makes them perfect for applications that utilise recycled materials.

Thermoplastics are preferred over thermoset polymers in terms of aesthetics, although thermosets are still seen to give superior aesthetics to substitute materials like metals. These substances permit in-mold painting or coating, including the direct spraying of the coating into the mold before the injection of the thermoset polymer. Even in severe weather, this method improves the material's adherence and avoids chipping, cracking, or flaking.

ThermoplasticThermosetting Plastic
The procedure known as addition polymerization can be used to create thermoplastic materials.Condensation polymerization is the process used to create thermosetting polymers.
Injection molding, extrusion, blow molding, thermoforming, and rotational molding are all methods used to treat thermoplastic.Compression molding and reaction injection molding are methods used to process thermosetting plastic.
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.
The molecular weight of thermoplastic is lower than that of thermosetting plastic.The molecular weight of thermosetting plastic is high.

Why are thermosets harder than thermoplastics?

Due to the three-dimensional network of linkages, or crosslinks, that are formed during the manufacturing process, thermoset polymers are tougher than thermoplastics. Thermosets are also better suited to high temperature applications since they keep their form as a result of strong covalent connections between polymer chains. They may withstand heat damage and chemical assault better with a higher crosslink density. Although this can result in brittleness, higher crosslink densities also increase the mechanical strength and hardness of these materials.

What is thermoplastic and thermosetting plastic example?

Polythene, Polypropylene, Polystyrene, Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and other materials are examples of thermoplastics. Cross-linked polymers and strongly branched chains are thermosetting polymers. Thermosetting polymers undergo considerable cross-linking in molds when heated, eventually becoming infusible.

What are 5 types of thermoplastics?

Polypropylene, polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, polyethylenetheraphthalate, and polycarbonate are a few of the most used thermoplastic materials.


Both producers and product designers must be aware of the differences between thermoplastic and thermoset polymers. Please get in touch with us right away if you're interested in learning more about LGDSilicone's thermoset capabilities and how they might enhance the features of your components or products that are already composed of metal or thermosetting materials.


About Frank

With a background as an injection molding engineer at Kaysun, Frank brings unique depth and insight to his role as Business Development Engineer. His ability to synthesize information and pair need with opportunity is a benefit to prospects and customers alike.

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