Difference Between Thermoplastic and Thermosetting Plastic

When you are studying polymers in chemistry you will generally come across a typical question like “distinguish between or write the differences between thermoplastic and thermosetting plastic.” While thermoset plastics and thermoplastics sound very similar, they are totally different compounds and have different properties as well as applications.

Basically, thermosetting and thermoplastics are two different types of polymers and they are mostly separated based on their molecular bond and reaction to heat.

Difference Between Thermoplastic and Thermosetting Plastic

Talking about the differences between thermoplastic and thermosetting plastic, well the main distinguishing factor between the two is that, thermoplastic materials typically have low melting points due to which it can further be remoulded or recycled easily. On the other hand, thermosetting plastic are quite the opposite. They can withstand high temperatures and once hardened these cannot be reformed or recycled even with the application of heat. In any case, let’s have a look at some of the important differences of these two compounds below.

Difference Between Thermoplastic and Thermosetting Plastic


Thermosetting Plastic

Thermoplastic can be synthesized by the process called addition polymerization.

Thermosetting plastics are synthesized by condensation polymerization.

Thermoplastic is processed by injection moulding, extrusion process, blow moulding, thermoforming process, and rotational moulding.

Thermosetting Plastic is processed by compression moulding, reaction injection moulding.

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 point and low tensile strength.

Thermosetting plastics have high melting point and tensile strength.

Thermoplastic is lower in molecular weight, compared to thermosetting plastic.

Thermosetting Plastic is high in molecular weight.

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