Difference Between Plastic and Rubber

Primary Difference

Chemistry is a vast but complicated field and there are many terms involved in it which can be confusing for people since they may carry a different name but have similar meaning or have a similar name but a totally different meaning. The whole chemical world has gone under a revolution of some sorts with the developments taking place at a fast rate therefore, the need of more substances and understanding what they are capable of, has become important. The two materials which are different from each other in many ways and have vastly different properties are Plastic and Rubber. They are heavily used in the industry and has become a backbone in construction and home appliances. To look at the differences between them we have to give a look at their definitions. Plastics are substances that have a complex structure, they mirror most polymers since they have high molecule ratio between them. They are derived from sources such as oil and petrol while they are softer in nature and therefore it is easy to mold them in different shapes and sizes according to the requirement at the initial stages when it is still raw. Rubber, on the other hand, is different since it derived from tress instead of some sort of chemical. Trees put out some sort of liquid which is extracted from the stem and then dried to obtain rubber. It has a large amount of water in it therefore it is easily differentiable. It is elastic in nature and can be easily molded in to different shapes but have high breakage ratio. Another way of looking at how they are different is, that you can classify them into different types. The main types of plastic include thermosetting and thermoplastic while the main type of rubber include organic and synthetic. That said, both have many other secondary types as well. Both have their own uses, for example, rubber is mostly used in the construction of tires and in industry for various purposes such as running chemical reactions. Plastic, on the other hand, are more widely used in daily life products such as utensils, food, clothes and other purposes. There are other ways of showing the difference as well but a brief explanation of both these types will be given in the next two paragraphs while differences, in a nutshell, will be given at the end of this article to clarify how they differ.

Comparison Chart

PlasticRubber
DefinitionGeneric name for certain synthetic or semisynthetic materials that can be molded or extruded into objects or films or filaments or used for making e.g. Coatings and adhesives.An elastic material obtained from the latex sap of trees (especially trees of the genera Hevea and Ficus) that can be vulcanized and finished into a variety of products.
SourceMostly obtained from organic substances such as oil and petrol.Usually obtained from the trees branches.
ConversionIt has to be converted in its form after multiple processes and therefore is considered a by-product.It is obtained as it is from the trees and then dried so it is a natural product.
DeformationCannot be deformed once it is hardened and molded into a shape.Can easily be molded in different shapes even once the shape is formed.

What is Plastic?

Plastics are substances that have a complex structure, they mirror most polymers since they have high molecule ratio between them. They are derived from sources such as oil and petrol while they are softer in nature and therefore it is easy to mold them in different shapes and sizes according to the requirement at the initial stages when it is still raw. They have less amount of water present in its components and therefore it is considered less toxic. The molecules in plastic are bonded together and have high rates. The main advantage of plastic is that once it is shaped into a specific form it is very difficult to change that shape again. This is the reason it has more use in daily life products such as clothes, books, food, beverages and other many products. The main types of plastic include thermosetting and thermoplastic, although in general there are more than 1000 different types of plastics that are present. It is also available in synthetic form and that form is obtained from natural gas or oil. Plastic has to be converted in its form after multiple processes and therefore is considered a by-product and is not available naturally in the atmosphere.

What is Rubber?

Rubber is derived from tress instead of some sort of chemical. Trees put out some sort of liquid which is extracted from the stem and then dried to obtain rubber. It has a large amount of water in it therefore it is easily differentiable. It is elastic in nature and can be easily molded in to different shapes but have high breakage ratio. This is the reason that it is not a by-product but a natural one since it can be obtained directly from the atmosphere. It is also present in the synthetic form which can be made after the extraction from crude oil. Rubber is mostly used in the construction of tires and in industry for various purposes such as running chemical reactions. Most of the automotive industry is dependent on rubber for its process and equipment. There are two main types of rubber as well, which are synthetic and organic while many other forms have been made for different purposes in the industry. It can be molded into shape even when it is hardened which gives it an advantage over other materials and is the most common one in its field.

Key Differences

  1. Plastic is defined as a substance that have a structure similar to polymers while rubber has a structure of their own and are not similar to anyone.
  2. Plastic is mostly obtained from organic substances such as oil and petrol while rubber is usually obtained from the trees branches.
  3. Plastic has to be converted in its form after multiple processes and therefore is considered a by-product while rubber is obtained as it is from the trees and then dried so it is a natural product.
  4. Main components of plastic include plasticizer, stabilizer, filler and pigments while the main components of rubber include iso-propene, water and organic compounds.
  5. Plastic cannot be deformed once it is hardened and molded into a shape while rubber can easily be molded in different shapes even once the shape is formed.
  6. Plastic are less elastic in nature while rubber is considered as the main elastic substance.
  7. Water has more amount of presence in Rubber therefore rubber is considered toxic while plastic is considered less toxic since it does not have much water.
  8. Synthetic form of rubber is obtained from crude oil while the similar form of plastic is obtained from natural oil.

Conclusion

Plastic and Rubber are two terms which are very common when it comes to studying about materials. But there are many ways in which the main differences between them can be explained to the people who want to know more about them and that is what this article has done, given people a general idea about the differences between the two terms.

Harlon Moss

Harlon currently works as a quality moderator and content writer for Difference Wiki. He graduated from the University of California in 2010 with a degree in Computer Science. Follow him on Twitter @HarlonMoss

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