Thermosets vs. Thermoplastics: Understanding the Advantages of Each

Monday, February 17, 2020

Both thermoplastics and thermosets come with inherent characteristics that make them well suited to a huge variety of products in the world of manufacturing and design. Rather than simply saying that one is superior to the other, the choice is often more about which projects they are best suited for. Understanding the major differences between the material types gives project managers a significant advantage during the early stages of the development process. At Industrial Custom Products, we offer material guidance as well as manufacturing capabilities for plastic and flexible parts.



Thermoplastics are a popular manufacturing material that continues to rise in the eyes of engineers and designers across the world due to some unique attributes. Thanks to their chemical makeup, thermoplastics can be heated and molded into any shape over and over again without sacrificing appearance or material integrity. This not only means that they’re well suited to an endless list of design possibilities, but also that they are functionally recyclable. That unique characteristic can help you reduce waste and even reduce cost. Their meltable, moldable nature means that they can be susceptible to deformation in high temperatures, but in stable environments, thermoplastics shine.



Unlike thermoplastics, thermosets are able to achieve thermostability following a single curing process. What this means from a design standpoint is that thermosets won’t be re-melted by high heat the same way that thermoplastics are. While this lack of flexibility does set thermosets apart from thermoplastics, it also means that thermosets are sturdy, difficult to deform, and may be a strong choice for environments with extreme or variable temperatures. However, for the same reasons as their advantages, thermosets are also poor thermal conductors, can be brittle and difficult to surface finish, and can fail when exposed to heavy vibrations or other areas that impact its rigidity. They also aren’t recyclable in the same low-effort way that thermoplastics are, which can be a deal breaker if you’re looking to save on cost.


Find the Right Plastic for Your Design at ICP

Regardless of the project you have in mind, Industrial Custom Products can help you select a fitting material and ensure a smooth and successful product development process. For engineers and designers interested in utilizing thermoplastics, call us at (612) 781-2255 or send us your design and/or questions today.