The key difference between elastomer and plastomer is that elastomers show elasticity, whereas plastomers show both plasticity and elasticity.
Polymers are macromolecular materials having a large number of repeating units called monomers. Elastomers and plastomers are polymers having specific properties. Plastomers, however, are material with enhanced properties due to the combination of both elastic and plastic behaviour.
What is an Elastomer?
Elastomers are a type of polymers having the major characteristic feature of elasticity. These are rubber-like materials, which are usually amorphous polymers. That means there is no ordered structure in them. The elastic property of elastomers is due to sufficiently weak Van Der Waal forces between polymer chains (which makes a sufficiently irregular structure). If the Van der Waals forces between polymer chains are weak, it gives the polymer flexibility. Similarly, if the polymer has an unorganized structure, it allows the polymer to be more flexible. However, in order for a polymer to be flexible, it should have some degree of cross-linking as well.
We can identify a good elastomer by observing its plastic flow; a good elastomer does not undergo plastic flow. That means the shape of an elastomer would momentarily change when a stress is applied, but it would obtain its original shape once the stress is relieved. A good example of this is the natural rubber vulcanization process. Natural rubber alone tends to undergo plastic flow. Vulcanization is the process where sulfur cross-links are introduced to natural rubber. This causes the reduction of plastic flow and allows the polymer to return to its original shape when stretched and released.
Elastomers are found in two types as thermoplastic and thermoset elastomers. Thermoplastic elastomers are the materials that melt when heated. Thermoset elastomers are materials that do not melt when heated.
What is a Plastomer?
A plastomer is a type of polymer which has both elastic and plastic behaviour. In other words, plastomers are polymers having combined properties of elastomers and plastics. These materials have rubber-like properties with the ability to process into plastics. Moreover, the term plastomer forms form a combination of plastic and elastomer. Some important plastomers include ethylene-alpha olefin copolymers. These materials are useful as polymer modifiers to provide unique properties in flexible packaging, moulded and extruded products, wire, and cable, and foaming compounds.
The benefits of using plastomers include enabling the flexible packaging of materials due to enhanced toughness, clarity and sealing performance, improved impact strength and flexibility, etc. They can also be used to produce wire and cable due to their enhanced physical properties when combined with fillers and additives.
What is the Difference Between Elastomer and Plastomer?
The key difference between elastomer and plastomer is that elastomers show elasticity, whereas plastomers show both plasticity and elasticity. Some examples of elastomers include natural rubber, neoprene rubber, buna-s and buna-n. Some important plastomers include ethylene-alpha olefin copolymers. Moreover, elastomers are used when flexibility is required while the plasomers are used when both, flexibility and toughness are required.
Below infographic summarizes the difference between elastomer and plastomer in tabular form.
Summary – Elastomer vs Plastomer
Polymers are macromolecular materials having a large number of repeating units called monomers. Elastomers and plastomers are two types of polymers. The key difference between elastomer and plastomer is that elastomers show elasticity, whereas plastomers show both plasticity and elasticity.
1. “Polymer picture” By Polymer_picture.PNG: Original uploader was Mdufalla at en.wikipediaLater versions were uploaded by Cb2292 at en.wikipedia.derivative work: CameronSS (talk) – Polymer_picture.PNG (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Plastomer granules bags” By Cjp24 – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia