Thermoplastics and thermosets are types of plastics that undergo different production processes and produce various properties depending on the constituent materials and production methods. Thermoplastic and thermoset represent how materials are processed at varying temperatures.
1. TPO thermoplastics can be like water, it can change between ice and water (reversible process). Therefore, the curing process is reversible, meaning they can be reshaped and recycled.
2. Thermosetting polymers will form a cross-linked structure during curing, which prevents them from melting and remodeling. As an analogy, think of thermoset plastics as concrete, once cured, it can never return to a liquid state (an irreversible process).
1. TPO thermoplastics generally offer high strength, flexibility and are resistant to shrinkage, depending on the type of resin (polymer in molten liquid form). They are versatile materials that can be used in everything from plastic carrying bags to high-stress bearings and precision mechanical parts.
2. Thermosetting plastics generally have higher chemical resistance and heat resistance, as well as a higher strength structure that is not easily deformed.
1. TPO thermoplastics are resins that are solid at room temperature but become plastic and soft when heated, due to melting of the crystals or flow by exceeding the glass transition temperature.
When processed, usually by injection molding or a blow molding-like process, TPO thermoplastics take the shape of a mold into which they are poured as a melt and cooled to solidify into the desired shape.
An important aspect of TPO thermoplastics is their reversibility, ability to reheat, remelt and change shape. This allows for additional processing of the same material even after it has been made solid.
Processes such as extrusion, thermoforming and injection molding all rely on this resin property. Some common thermoplastic materials include polyethylene (PE), polycarbonate (PC), and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). However, like any other material, TPO thermoplastics have their limitations. If subjected to extremely high temperatures, materials can unexpectedly soften, deform and lose some of their physical properties.
2. Thermosetting resins or thermosetting polymers are usually liquid materials at room temperature, which harden irreversibly upon heating or chemical addition. Thermosets cure into a specified shape when placed in a mold and heated, but this curing process includes the formation of certain bonds, called crosslinks, that hold the molecules in place and change the material fundamental properties, thereby preventing its retransformation. Some common thermoset materials include epoxies, polyimides, and phenolics, many of which are important in composites.