Explore 6 Difference Between Thermoplastics And Thermosetting Plastics [PDF]

In this article, we shall see the difference between thermoplastics and thermosetting plastics. We have also provided a PDF download link for the same.

Thermoplastics and Thermosetting Plastics

Introduction to Thermoplastics and Thermosetting Plastics

Injection molding involves the use of two primary types of polymers: thermoplastics and thermosetting plastics. Despite their similar names and overlapping characteristics, they possess distinct properties and are utilized in various applications.

Thermoplastics and Thermosetting Plastics Definitions

Thermoplastics can be melted and re-molded multiple times due to weak intermolecular forces, while thermosetting polymers become rigid and inflexible after a chemical reaction during the molding process that forms strong covalent bonds. Thermosetting polymers cannot be reshaped once cured, and can only be decomposed at high temperatures. The main differences between Thermoplastics and Thermosetting plastics are Thermoplastics are linear polymers and Thermosetting plastics are cross-linked polymers.


Thermoplastics refer to a polymer class. They possess the ability to melt and reform multiple times without undergoing any change in their molecular structure. These plastics are held together by feeble intermolecular forces. Such forces enable them to be molded when subjected to heat. They then solidify when cooled. This exclusive nature of thermoplastics also makes them reusable. They can be melted and re-formed into novel shapes and products.

Examples of thermoplastics

Examples of thermoplastics

  • Polyethylene: used in plastic containers and bags
  • Polypropylene: used in food packaging
  • PVC: used in window frames and plumbing pipes
  • Nylon, acrylics and polystyrene: other thermoplastics used in various applications

Thermoplastics find common use in industries like automotive, construction, and medical due to their excellent properties:

  • High impact resistance
  • Flexibility
  • Low density
PVC pipe Example of thermoplastics

Thermosetting plastics

Thermosetting plastics form robust covalent bonds between polymer chains, leading to their rigid and inflexible nature. Once solidified, they cannot be remolded or melted. The need for high-temperature decomposition of Thermosetting plastics Lowers their recyclability compared to thermoplastics.

Industries such as automotive, aerospace, and electrical are dependent on thermosetting plastics for their high strength, durability, and resistance to chemicals and heat. Common examples of thermosetting plastics are polyurethanes phenolic resins, and epoxy resins.

Thermosetting Plastics Examples

Examples of Thermosetting plastics 

  • Epoxy resins:
    • Coating materials
    • Sealants
    • Manufacture of insulating materials
    • Various other applications
  • Phenolic resins:
    • Tool handles
    • Billiard balls
    • Sprockets
    • Insulation
    • Other applications
  • Unsaturated polyester resins:
    • Manufacture of reinforced fiberglass plastics (often referred to as polyester)
    • Production of fillers and other materials
Tool Handle example of Thermosetting Plastics

Difference Between Thermoplastics And Thermosetting Plastics

We have provided a Comparison between thermoplastics and thermosetting plastics on different parameters as follows

ParametersThermoplasticsThermosetting plastics
Molecular StructureLinear or branched polymers.Crosslinked polymers
Behavior during heating and coolingCan be melted and reshaped multiple times without undergoing any chemical change.Solidify irreversibly upon heating.
Curing processDo not require curing.Require curing through a chemical reaction to crosslink the polymer chains.
Mechanical propertiesTend to have lower strength and stiffness than thermosetting plastics, but are more ductile and impact-resistant.Tend to have higher strength and stiffness than thermoplastics, but are less ductile and impact-resistant.
Thermal propertiesHave a lower melting point and can be melted at lower temperatures.Have a higher melting point and require higher temperatures for processing.
RecyclingCan be melted and reformed into new products.Cannot be recycled once they have solidified.
ApplicationsCommonly used in packaging, consumer products, and automotive components.Often used in electrical and electronic components, as well as in aerospace and construction applications.
Application of Thermosetting Plastics


What is Thermoplastic?

Thermoplastic is a polymer that can reshaped multiple times by melting due to weak intermolecular forces, making it versatile and commonly used in various industries.

What is Thermosetting Plastics?

Thermosetting plastics are polymers that create strong covalent bonds during molding, becoming irreversible and rigid once solidified. Non recyclable due to their high-temperature decomposition. Examples like phenolic resins, epoxy resins, and polyurethanes are valued for their durability and strength in automotive, aerospace, and electrical sectors.

What are examples of Thermoplastic?

  • Polyethylene (PE)
  • Polypropylene (PP)
  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
  • Polystyrene (PS)
  • Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS)
  • Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
  • Polycarbonate (PC)
  • Polyamide (PA), commonly known as Nylon
  • Polyoxymethylene (POM), commonly known as Acetal
  • Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU)

What are examples of Thermosetting plastic?

  • Epoxy resins
  • Phenolic resins
  • Melamine formaldehyde (MF)
  • Urea-formaldehyde (UF)
  • Unsaturated polyester (UP)
  • Polyurethane (PUR)
  • Silicone rubber (Q)
  • Diallyl phthalate (DAP)
  • Cyanate ester (CE)
  • Polyimide (PI)

is thermoplastics and thermosetting plastics toxic?

When we delve into the world of thermoplastics and thermosetting plastics, it’s important to recognize the presence of harmful chemicals. These substances, like BPA, PVC, and phthalates can promote health risks that stir concern. However, there’s hope in safer, more environmentally friendly plastics. Consider polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE) thermoplastics which are less toxic. Moreover, certain types of thermosetting plastics, like epoxy, bring comfort, for they can be crafted from biodegradable and non-toxic materials.

What are thermoplastic elastomers?

Thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) blend rubber-like elasticity with plastic’s ability to be reshaped and melted. They find diverse uses, from industrial and automboitive parts to medical devices and toys. Notably, TPEs promote sustainability through waste reduction and recycling.

What is Thermoplastic polyurethane?

Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) is a durable and flexible elastomer with both plastic and rubber nature. It can be reshaped and melted without compromising its qualities, making it a famous choice for items like automotive parts, phone cases, and footwear. It is possible thanks to its resistance to chemicals, abrasion, and oils.

What are thermoplastic composites?

Thermoplastic composites combine particles or fibres with a thermoplastic resin. They are valued for their stiffness, strength, ease of processing, and lightweight nature. These composites have applications in Sports, aerospace, automotive, and more. They are used for making structural parts, body panels, and sports equipment. Their recyclability adds to their sustainable manufacturing appeal.

Application of Thermoplastics


In conclusion, Injection molding involves using two primary types of polymers, thermoplastics, and thermosetting plastics. Thermoplastics can be reshaped and melted multiple times due to weak intermolecular forces, while Thermosetting polymers become rigid after a chemical reaction, making them decomposable and non-reshapable only at high temperatures. Thermoplastics find use in diverse industries like construction, automotive, and medical due to their Low density, high impact resistance, and flexibility. In contrast, thermosetting plastics are preferred in automotive, aerospace, and electrical sectors for their high strength, resistance to chemicals & heat, and durability.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

2 thoughts on “Explore 6 Difference Between Thermoplastics And Thermosetting Plastics [PDF]”

Leave a Comment