Difference Between Resin and Polymer

Resin vs Polymer

Monomers are building blocks of polymers. They can be simple or a complex molecule with double bonds or another functional group like –OH, -NH2, –COOH, etc. The unsaturated double bonds or functional groups are needed in the polymerization process, when several monomers are linking to form a polymer. These can be natural or synthetic. Synthetic compounds are produced to mimic the natural compounds, and now they are widely in use. Resin is a natural monomeric compound, which has a synthetic counterpart too.


Polymers are large molecules, with repeating structural units of monomers. These monomers are bonded to each other with covalent bonds to form a polymer. They have a high molecular weight and consist over 10,000 atoms. In the synthesis process, which is known as polymerization, longer polymer chains are obtained. There are two main types of polymers depending on their synthesis methods. If the monomers have double bonds between carbons, from addition reactions polymers can be synthesized. These polymers are known as addition polymers. In some of the polymerization reactions, when two monomers are joined, a small molecule like water is removed. Such polymers are condensation polymers. Polymers have very different physical and chemical properties than their monomers. Moreover, according to the number of repeating units in the polymer, properties differ. There are a large number of polymers present in the natural environment, and they play very important roles. Synthetic polymers are also used widely for different purposes. Polyethylene, polypropylene, PVC, nylon, Bakelite are some of the synthetic polymers. When producing synthetic polymers, the process should be highly controlled to get the desired product always. Synthetic polymers are used as adhesives, lubricants, paints, films, fibers, plastic goods, etc.


Resin is naturally produced by plants. This is a viscous liquid with clear or dark brown color. In some plant, plant sap contains resins. Though these are liquids and viscous, they can be hardened when treated with chemicals. The level of hardness varies depending on the plant that produces resin. Resin does not dissolve in water, but it dissolves in alcohol. There are various classes of resin and the chemical composition differs in each other. Mainly they are composed of terpenes, which are volatile. Because of the terpenes, resins get a characteristic odor. Most commonly bicyclic terpenes are present in resins like alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, delta-3 carene and sabinene. Other than these there are monocyclic (limonene) and tricyclic terpenes (sesquiterpenes, longifolene) too. Further, there are some non-volatile solid substances in small amounts, which are responsible for making the resin thick and sticky. These individual compounds in a resin can be separated by fractional distillation.

There are many applications for resins. We have used plant resins for thousands of years. For examples, they are used as a component of perfume, varnish, lacquer, jewelry etc. Resins are not only natural, now scientists have found a way to produce them synthetically too. Synthetic resins are used as a monomer, to produce polymers. Synthetic resins are more stable and uniform than natural resins. They are used in the production of plastics, paints; also, to produce objects, which are produced using natural resins.


What is the difference between Polymer and Resin?

• Polymers have a large molecular weight since their chains are longer. Comparatively, resins have a smaller molecular weight and smaller chain molecules.

• Polymers can be made up of resins.