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Resin vs. Polymer: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on January 21, 2024
Resin is a natural or synthetic compound often used as a base for plastics, while polymer is a broad category of macromolecules formed by linking monomers.

Key Differences

Resin can be either natural, derived from plants, or synthetic, created through chemical processes. Polymer refers to a larger class of materials that includes a variety of substances formed by linking smaller units called monomers. While all resins are polymers, not all polymers are resins.
Natural resin is typically secreted by plants and is a complex mixture of compounds, used historically in varnishes and adhesives. Polymer, encompassing a wider range, can be natural like DNA or synthetic like nylon. The diversity of polymers exceeds that of resins, covering a vast array of materials with different properties.
Resin in its synthetic form is used in the production of plastics, adhesives, and coatings, prized for its adhesive properties and durability. Polymer materials, which include synthetic resins, can vary from flexible to rigid, with applications in everyday items like plastic bottles to high-tech applications in aerospace. The versatility of polymers encompasses a broader spectrum than resins alone.
When used in manufacturing, resin often refers to a viscous substance that hardens into a solid form, utilized in composite materials or as a binding agent. Polymers, by contrast, can exist in various states - solids, liquids, or gels - and their properties are defined by the types of monomers used and the nature of their bonding. This makes polymers more diverse in terms of physical states and applications.
In terms of chemical structure, resin can be a complex mixture of organic compounds, often with an amorphous structure. Polymer structures, on the other hand, are characterized by their long chains of repeated monomer units, which can be arranged in various ways to create different types of polymers. This structural difference underpins the varied applications of polymers compared to resins.

Comparison Chart


Natural or synthetic
Broadly both natural and synthetic


Varnishes, adhesives, plastics
Includes all resins, plus a vast array of other materials

Physical State

Often viscous, hardening to solids
Can be solid, liquid, or gel

Structural Complexity

Complex mixtures, often amorphous
Long chains of repeated monomer units


More limited in diversity
Extremely diverse with wide-ranging properties

Resin and Polymer Definitions


Resin is often used in composite materials for its bonding properties.
Fiberglass is made by reinforcing plastic resin with glass fibers.


Polymer chemistry involves the study of how monomers combine to form polymers.
Polymer science has led to the development of innovative materials like Kevlar.


Resin is a sticky substance produced by plants.
Pine trees exude a natural resin used in traditional varnishes.


Polymer can exist in various states like solid, liquid, or gel.
Hydrogel, a type of polymer, is used in contact lenses for its water-retaining properties.


Resin can be a synthetic material used in plastics and adhesives.
Epoxy resin is widely used in the manufacturing of strong adhesives.


Polymer is a substance made of long, repeating chains of monomers.
Polyethylene, a common polymer, is used extensively in packaging.


Resin can be thermosetting, hardening irreversibly when heated.
Thermosetting resin is used in creating durable, heat-resistant materials.


Polymer can be naturally occurring, like DNA, or synthetic, like plastic.
DNA is a natural polymer essential to genetic information storage.


Resin is prized for its durability and protective qualities in coatings.
Resin-based coatings are applied to protect wooden furniture.


Polymer materials vary widely from flexible to rigid.
Silicone, a flexible polymer, is used in kitchen utensils.


Any of numerous clear to translucent yellow or brown, solid or semisolid, viscous substances of plant origin, such as copal, rosin, and amber, used principally in lacquers, varnishes, inks, adhesives, plastics, and pharmaceuticals. Resins are usually insoluble in water.


Any of numerous natural and synthetic compounds of usually high molecular weight consisting of up to millions of repeated linked units, each a relatively light and simple molecule.


(organic chemistry) A long or larger molecule consisting of a chain or network of many repeating units, formed by chemically bonding together many identical or similar small molecules called monomers. A polymer is formed by polymerization, the joining of many monomer molecules.


A material consisting of such polymer molecules.


Any one of two or more substances related to each other by polymerism; specifically, a substance produced from another substance by chemical polymerization.


A naturally occurring or synthetic compound consisting of large molecules made up of a linked series of repeated simple monomers


Can polymers be both natural and synthetic?

Yes, polymers can be both natural (like DNA) and synthetic (like nylon).

What is resin?

Resin is a natural or synthetic compound used in products like plastics, adhesives, and coatings.

What is a polymer?

A polymer is a large molecule composed of repeated subunits known as monomers.

Are all resins polymers?

Yes, all resins are a type of polymer, but not all polymers are resins.

What are synthetic resins used for?

Synthetic resins are used in making plastics, adhesives, and paints.

Can resin be recycled?

Some synthetic resins can be recycled, but the process varies depending on the type of resin.

What makes resin valuable in manufacturing?

Resin's adhesive properties and ability to harden make it valuable in manufacturing.

What is the difference between thermoplastic and thermosetting polymers?

Thermoplastic polymers can be remelted, while thermosetting polymers cannot.

What are some natural polymers?

Natural polymers include DNA, cellulose, and proteins.

How are polymers classified?

Polymers are classified based on their origin, structure, and physical properties.

What is the role of polymers in modern technology?

Polymers play a crucial role in modern technology, from electronics to medical devices.

Is resin harmful to the environment?

The environmental impact of resin depends on its type, with some synthetic resins being pollutants.

Are polymers environmentally friendly?

The environmental friendliness of polymers depends on their type and usage, with some being biodegradable and others not.

Can polymers conduct electricity?

Some polymers, known as conducting polymers, can conduct electricity.

How are resins used in art?

Resins are used in art for making varnishes, coatings, and as a medium in resin art.

How do natural and synthetic polymers differ?

Natural polymers are found in nature, while synthetic polymers are human-made.

Are polymers used in medicine?

Yes, polymers are used in various medical applications, including drug delivery systems and implants.

What research is being done on polymers?

Research on polymers focuses on developing new materials with unique properties for various applications.

Is resin biodegradable?

Natural resins are biodegradable, but many synthetic resins are not.

What are the most common uses of polymers?

Common uses include packaging materials, textiles, and construction materials.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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