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Differences between Thermoplastic and Thermoset

As many articles on powder coating start out, it is an organic finish that is separated into two chemical categories: thermoset and thermoplastic. We all know that thermoset is the most common powder coating considered to be thin but hard. Conversely, thermoplastic always goes unrecognized as it is expensive and difficulty to apply before. And this article will give you some suggestions that you should reevaluate thermoplastic with technical improvements and cost reduction nowadays.

But why do we pay much attention to thermoplastic powder coatings? The answer is "performance". Thermoplastic powder coatings have incomparable performance that traditional thermoset cannot reach. But we are not saying the thermoset powder coating should go out the competition and be replaced by thermoplastic powders. They have different features to suit different applications. Here we list a detail comparison that may help you know more about these two powder coatings.

  • Structure
    Thermoplastic powder coating features longer chain molecules; in contrast, thermoset powder coating starts with short molecules which are cross-linked together during the curing process to form a permanent matrix based on an irreversible chemical reaction. And the structure differences determine the different properties of these two powder coatings.
  • Weight
    Most thermoplastic powder coatings are in lighter weight so that fewer pounds of thermoplastic powders are used to achieve the same thickness of thermoset coating.
  • Thickness
    Generally, thermoset powder coating is considered as a thin, rigid and tightly cross-linked coating; while thermoplastic powder coating is thicker than thermoset - about 8 mils to 100 mils in thickness for specific requirements.
  • Flexibility & impact resistance
    High hardness enables the thermoset powder coating extremely resistant against scratch and mar. Thermoplastic type is more closely associated with plastic film featuring high flexibility, ductility and high percent elongation which impart high impact resistance to the coating, yet lower scratch and mar resistance. But our Adherest polyethylene powder coating breaks this limitation - that is because its high adhesion ensures the coating tightly adheres to the parts regardless of the rough scratch and mar.
  • Recyclability
    Both thermoplastic and thermoset powder coatings are dry particulates that will melt and flow to from a smooth coating. However, thermoplastic powder coating is recyclable as they will soften and flow again if reheated at a temperature about 300°F. And thermoset powder coating is irreversible after the initial cure and cooling. Thus, they are not recyclable.

From above aspects, we come to a conclusion that these two powder coatings have both pros and cons. And here we list the detail properties of these two powder coatings as shown in the following table.

Thermoplastic Pros

  • Extremely adhesive to metal
  • High recyclable.
  • Superb impact resistance.
  • Can be remolded and reshaped.
  • Excellent corrosion resistance.
  • Slip enhancement.
  • Detergent and chemical resistance.
  • Flexibility and elongation of the coating film.
  • Electrical insulation.
  • Chip resistance.
  • Aesthetically-superior finishes.
  • Superb corrosion resistance.

Thermoplastic Cons

  • May soften when reheated.
  • May be expensive than thermoset.

Thermoset Pros

  • More resistant against high temperature.
  • Hard and rigid.
  • Thin to thick wall capability.
  • Excellent appearance.
  • High mechanical property.
  • Cost effective.
  • Excellent dimensional stability.

Thermoset Cons

  • Not recycled.
  • Much more difficult to surface finish.
  • Cannot be remolded or reshaped.

So if your application requires a high-performance powder coating such as those provide 5000 hours salt spray protection, 10 years of UV resistance and excellent impact resistance, just shake off traditional thermoset type and start to brave the new world of thermoplastic powder coatings. We believe they will not let you down. Come on in, the water's fine!

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