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Thermoplastics vs. Thermosetting Plastics: What's the Difference?

Edited by Sawaira Riaz || By Sumera Saeed || Updated on October 10, 2023
Thermoplastics can be reheated and reshaped multiple times, while thermosetting plastics once set, cannot be remelted or reshaped.

Key Differences

Thermoplastics, in the realm of polymers, boast a structure that permits them to soften upon heating and harden once cooled, this process is reversible and repeatable. Thermosetting plastics, alternatively, undergo an irreversible chemical change when heated, hardening permanently. There is a striking difference in how each material reacts to heat, thermoplastics soften, while thermosetting plastics do not.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023
In terms of molecular structure, thermoplastics exhibit a linear or slightly branched structure, allowing the polymer chains to melt and flow upon heating. Thermosetting plastics differentiate in that they have a heavily cross-linked structure which restricts mobility upon heating, preventing them from achieving a flowy molten state. This distinct molecular difference primarily marks the variance in their responses to heat.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023
Further, thermoplastics, due to their malleability and remoldability, find application in various industries such as packaging and consumer goods. On the contrary, thermosetting plastics are utilized in applications where rigidity and heat resistance are paramount, like in electrical fittings or adhesives, because once they’re set, they retain their shape and cannot be remolded or reshaped.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023
Recyclability is an aspect where thermoplastics have an edge as they can be melted and remolded repeatedly without significantly degrading the material’s quality. Thermosetting plastics cannot be recycled in a similar fashion due to their inability to be remolded upon heating, thereby posing a different set of challenges and opportunities in waste management.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 10, 2023
In a nutshell, while thermoplastics offer flexibility, remoldability, and are generally more recyclable, thermosetting plastics offer enhanced stability, durability, and heat resistance, but sacrifice the ability to be remolded and reshaped.
Harlon Moss
Oct 10, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Word Count

One word
Two words
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Oct 10, 2023

Syllables

Four syllables
Six syllables
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Oct 10, 2023

Initial Letters

T (capitalized)
T and P (both words capitalized)
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Oct 10, 2023

Use of Hyphen

No hyphen
No hyphen
Janet White
Oct 10, 2023

Associated Adjectives

Often described as "remoldable" or "flexible"
Often described as "rigid" or "permanent"
Aimie Carlson
Oct 10, 2023
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Common Abbreviations

Sometimes abbreviated as “TP”
Seldom abbreviated
Sara Rehman
Oct 10, 2023

Usage in Sentences

Typically used in contexts of reusable plastics
Used in contexts of once-set, hard plastics
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023

Length of Words

14 characters
23 characters
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023

Number of Vowels

4 vowels
6 vowels
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Oct 10, 2023

Application in Industry

Widely used for everyday objects like containers
Commonly used for durable, heat-resistant items
Aimie Carlson
Oct 10, 2023

Thermoplastics and Thermosetting Plastics Definitions

Thermoplastics

Thermoplastics usually have linear or slightly branched polymer structures.
Polyethylene, a type of thermoplastics, is used in numerous applications like plastic bags and containers.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 10, 2023

Thermosetting Plastics

Once set, they retain their shape and cannot be reshaped or remolded, even upon reheating.
The casing, made of thermosetting plastics, maintained its shape despite exposure to heat.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 10, 2023

Thermoplastics

Thermoplastics are polymers that become pliable or moldable when heated and harden upon cooling.
The bottle made of thermoplastics was easily remolded into a new shape after being heated.
Janet White
Oct 10, 2023

Thermosetting Plastics

Thermosetting plastics are polymers that once cured or hardened, cannot be remelted or reformed.
The thermosetting plastics in the circuit board resist melting even under high temperatures.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023

Thermoplastics

They are characterized by their ability to undergo multiple cycles of melting and solidifying without undergoing significant degradation.
Thermoplastics are widely used in the packaging industry due to their recyclability.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023

Thermosetting Plastics

Thermosetting plastics are known for their high heat resistance and are often used in high-temperature applications.
Brake pads often contain thermosetting plastics to withstand high-temperature conditions.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023

Thermoplastics

Thermoplastics can be found in everyday items like plastic bags, containers, and toys due to their remoldability and cost-effectiveness.
The toys were manufactured using colorful thermoplastics to be durable and safe for children.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023

Thermosetting Plastics

They are composed of polymers that cross-link together during the curing process, forming an irreversible chemical bond.
Epoxy, a thermosetting plastics, is used in adhesives due to its strong, irreversible bond.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 10, 2023

Thermoplastics

These polymers are known for their versatility and are used in various manufacturing processes like injection molding and extrusion.
Due to the malleability of thermoplastics, they are extruded into fibers or films.
Harlon Moss
Oct 10, 2023

Thermosetting Plastics

Thermosetting plastics find applications where a permanent shape, rigidity, and structural stability are required.
Thermosetting plastics are commonly found in electrical switches and outlets due to their insulating and heat-resistant properties.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023

Thermoplastics

Becoming soft when heated and hard when cooled.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 03, 2016

Thermoplastics

A thermoplastic resin, such as polystyrene or polyethylene.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 03, 2016

Thermoplastics

Plural of thermoplastic
Sumera Saeed
Oct 03, 2016

FAQs

Are thermoplastics recyclable?

Yes, thermoplastics can be recycled since they can be melted and remolded multiple times.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023

Where are thermosetting plastics commonly used?

Thermosetting plastics are often used in electrical applications, adhesives, and some automotive parts.
Janet White
Oct 10, 2023

What are thermoplastics?

Thermoplastics are polymers that can be melted and reshaped multiple times without undergoing a significant chemical change.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023

What defines thermosetting plastics?

Thermosetting plastics are polymers that, once molded and cured, cannot be remelted or reshaped.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 10, 2023

Which is more heat-resistant, thermoplastics or thermosetting plastics?

Thermosetting plastics tend to have higher heat resistance compared to thermoplastics.
Sara Rehman
Oct 10, 2023

In what products might I encounter thermoplastics?

Thermoplastics are found in various products like plastic bottles, packaging, and toys.
Harlon Moss
Oct 10, 2023

Can you give an example of thermosetting plastic?

Epoxy resin is a widely recognized thermosetting plastic.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 10, 2023

Why can’t thermosetting plastics be remelted?

The cross-linked polymer chains in thermosetting plastics form an irreversible chemical bond, preventing remelting.
Janet White
Oct 10, 2023

Are thermosetting plastics used in electronics?

Yes, thermosetting plastics are commonly used in electronics due to their insulative and heat-resistant properties.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023

What makes thermoplastics suitable for recycling?

Their ability to melt and be reshaped without significant degradation makes thermoplastics suitable for recycling.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 10, 2023

Can thermosetting plastics be used for making bottles?

Typically, thermosetting plastics are not used for bottles due to their rigidity and inability to be remolded.
Sara Rehman
Oct 10, 2023

Which is generally lighter, thermoplastics or thermosetting plastics?

Thermoplastics tend to be lighter, which is why they're often chosen for applications where weight is a critical factor.
Harlon Moss
Oct 10, 2023

What is the primary chemical structure of thermoplastics?

Thermoplastics generally have a linear or slightly branched chemical structure.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023

How are thermoplastics processed?

Thermoplastics can be processed using various methods like injection molding, extrusion, and blow molding.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 10, 2023

Are thermosetting plastics commonly used in the automotive industry?

Yes, due to their heat resistance and durability, thermosetting plastics are used in various automotive components.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 10, 2023

Can thermosetting plastics be recycled in a traditional manner?

No, thermosetting plastics cannot be remelted and hence, are not recyclable in a conventional sense.
Sara Rehman
Oct 10, 2023

What is an example of a thermoplastic?

Polyethylene is a common example of a thermoplastic.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 10, 2023

Are thermoplastics or thermosetting plastics more durable?

While thermosetting plastics tend to have higher durability and stability, thermoplastics provide flexibility and ease of processing.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 10, 2023

Which is more cost-effective to produce, thermoplastics or thermosetting plastics?

Thermoplastics are typically more cost-effective due to their ease of production and recyclability.
Harlon Moss
Oct 10, 2023

What are the environmental impacts of using thermoplastics?

While thermoplastics can be recycled, improper disposal and single-use items contribute to environmental pollution.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 10, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.
Edited by
Sawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.

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