The key difference between resin and polymer is that resins have small molecular weights, whereas polymers have large molecular weights.
Monomers are building blocks of polymers. They are either simple or complex molecules with double bonds or another functional group like –OH, -NH2, –COOH, etc. The unsaturated double bonds or functional groups are requirements in the polymerization process when several monomers are linking to form a polymer. These polymers are either 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 also has a synthetic counterpart.
What is Resin?
Resin is an organic material that naturally forms in plants. This is a viscous liquid with clear or dark brown colour. 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. This material does not dissolve in water, but it dissolves in alcohol. There are various classes of resin, and their chemical composition differs.
Mainly resins contain terpenes, which are volatile. Because of terpenes, resins get a characteristic odour. Most commonly, bicyclic terpenes occur in resins such as alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, delta-3 carene and sabinene. Other than these, there are monocyclic (limonene) and tricyclic terpenes (sesquiterpenes, longifolene) as well.
Furthermore, there are some non-volatile solid substances in small amounts, which are responsible for making the resin thick and sticky. We can separate these individual compounds in resin by fractional distillation.
There are many applications for resins. People have been using plant resins for thousands of years. For example, they are useful as a component of perfume, varnish, lacquer, jewellery etc. Now scientists have found a way to produce resins synthetically too. Synthetic resins are important as a monomer, to produce polymers. Synthetic resins are more stable and uniform than natural resins. They are useful in the production of plastics and paints; they are also able to produce objects which are produced using natural resins.
What is a Polymer?
Polymers are large molecules, with repeating structural units of monomers. These monomers bind with each other via covalent bonds to form a polymer. They have a high molecular weight and consist of over 10,000 atoms. Their synthesis process, which we call as polymerization, involves the formation of longer polymer chains.
There are two main types of polymers, depending on their synthesis methods. If the monomers have double bonds between carbons, from addition reactions, we can obtain polymers. These polymers are called addition polymers. In some polymerization reactions, when two monomers join each other, 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, their properties differ. There are a large number of polymers present in the environment, and they play very important roles.
Synthetic polymers are also used widely for different purposes. Polyethylene, polypropylene, PVC, nylon, and, Bakelite are some synthetic polymers. When producing synthetic polymers, the process should always be highly controlled to get the desired product. Synthetic polymers are important as adhesives, lubricants, paints, films, fibres, plastic goods, etc.
What is the Difference Between Resin and Polymer?
Resin is an organic material that natural forms in plants while polymers are large molecules with repeating structural units of monomers. The key difference between resin and polymer is that resins have small molecular weights, whereas polymers have large molecular weights. Furthermore, resin is a viscous liquid with clear or dark brown colour while polymers can be either solid or liquid.
Summary – Resin vs Polymer
Resin and polymer are organic materials. The key difference between resin and polymer is that resins have small molecular weights, whereas polymers have large molecular weights.
1. Johnson, Todd. “Epoxy Resin.” ThoughtCo, May. 23, 2019, Available here.