Thermoplastics and thermosetting plastics

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Thermoplastics 1

Thermoplastics are held together with small cross-links, which are held together by mutual attraction. When a thermoplastic is heated it becomes pliable and soft and when it cools it goes hard again. It can be heat and shaped an infinite amount of times.


  • Stiff, hard, durable
  • Easily scratched, good insulator
  • Brittle


  • Good insulator
  • Chemical and impact resistant, flexible
  • Colour fades, can break under stress


  • Good insulator, chemical resistant, flexible
  • Colour fades, can break under stress
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Thermoplastics 2

PET (Polyethylene terephthalate)

  • Good alcohol and oil barrier
  • Chemical and high impact resistant
  • High tensile strength

PVC (Polyvinyl chloride)

  • Good chemical and weather resistance
  • Stiff, tough, hard, lightweight
  • Brittle over time, UV causes brittleness

PP (Polypropylene)

  • Light, hard, impact resistant, chemical resistant
  • UV causes degradation
  • Oxidation is a problem during manufacture
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Thermoplastics 3

PS (Polystyrene)


  • Light, hard, stiff, brittle
  • Low impact strength
  • Weak, ignites easily


  • Buoyant, lightweight, good insulator
  • Crumbles and breaks, ignites easily

ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene)

  • Chemical resistant
  • Hard, tough
  • UV light causes degradation
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Thermosetting Plastics

Unlike thermoplastics, thermosetting plastics once formed cant be reheated and changed. They are covelently bonded, this makes them have a very rigid structure.

Epoxy Resins

  • Corrosion and electrical resistant
  • Good bond qualities
  • Can cause allergic reactions, suspected health problems

Urea Formaldehyde

  • Strong, hard, brittle
  • Heat resistant
  • Can emit toxic vapours during manufacture

Polyester Resin

  • Good electrical insulator
  • Heat resistant
  • Brittle, can crack
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