When it comes to the revolutionized plastic manufacturing industry, monomers and polymers play a significant role. These two are often confused but getting to know the differences and relationship between monomers and polymers will help you choose the perfect combination for quality-oriented products.
From a broader perspective, monomers and polymers are semi-synthetic or synthetic compounds used to manufacture different objects.
After you get familiar with these structural compounds, you will be able to achieve the desired chemical properties like impact resistance, heat resistance, density, strength, etc.
A monomer is a small atom or structural molecule that combines and makes polymers. These polymers are made through a process called polymerization in which a chain of monomers is formed. For more insights, let’s get a deep dig into these compounds to use them effectively.
I. What are Monomers?
A monomer is a single atom or small unit of molecule or fragment. It is bonded to other similar-type or compatible molecules to form a polymer. These are like tiny building blocks making complex structures at the end in the form of polymers.
When it comes to the meaning of the word “Monomer”, it means one part or a single unit. They can also be confused with bio-monomers but those are of completely different type. Bio-monomers play a vital role in the human body as well as in the environment and are combined as bio-polymers.
The monomers used in the plastic and manufacturing industry are mostly synthetic. Different sorts of bonds are used like supramolecular or chemical to convert synthetic monomers into synthetic polymers.
Since different combinations of these monomers can be used, there are different organic compounds like PVC, Formaldehyde, Acetonitrile, Phenol, and many others in which you can find them.
What are the Characteristics of Monomers?
Although the characteristics of monomers depend upon their formation and individual properties of them in general, these are as follows:
- Small Size: Due to the small molecular size of monomers, they are easy to handle.
- Solubility: Few of the monomers are soluble in water while the others are not. This property plays a key role in defining which type of monomer is perfect for you.
- Ability to be Polymerized: Monomers can easily be polymerized so that different physical and chemical features can be achieved.
- Molecular Weight: Monomers have a relatively low molecular weight from that of polymers.
- Reactivity: Monomers are highly reactive and their capability to create other chemical bonds is high.
What are the Uses of Monomers?
There is a wide range of applications when it comes to monomers.
Some of them are mentioned below:
- Plastic Production: Monomers are used in plastic production so that different varieties of products can be made while having customized characteristics – flexibility, durability, and strength.
- Biopolymers: Monomers are used for the creation of biopolymers which are further used in medical implants and drug delivery systems.
- Adhesives: Different types of sealants and adhesives are made using monomers. These adhesives are applied in the automotive and construction industries.
- Electronic Products: Various electronic components like semiconductors or other conductive materials are manufactured through monomers.
- Coatings: Monomers are used to manufacture coatings for various surfaces. Paints and varnishes are some of its examples.
II. What are Polymers?
Polymers are large complex structures made of small blocks or units of molecules called monomers. Long chains or a complete network of monomers are created through chemical bonding processes like covalent bonds.
The properties that these polymers possess depend upon various crucial factors like characteristics of applied monomers, bonding type, and circumstances in which they are formed.
“Poly” and “Meros” are Greek words that combine and make the meaning “many parts”. As is the case with monomers, polymers are also found in natural shape (biopolymers) as well as in synthetic form. These synthetic polymers are repeating units of macro-molecules (monomers).
Polymers are very useful as they can be found in rubber, plastics, textile, adhesives, and many other applications. There are around four major categories of polymers consisting of synthetic fibers, elastomers, thermosets, and thermoplastics.
What are the Characteristics of Polymers?
There are different characteristics of polymers depending upon specific formations and properties of used monomers.
Some of the primary characteristics of polymers are as follows:
- Thermal Stability: Polymers can withstand high temperatures without considerable decomposition. It makes them suitable for usage in high-temperature applications.
- Electrical Conductivity: Depending upon the formation, various polymers can exhibit the properties of electrical conductivity that make them perfect for electrical appliances.
- Biodegradability: Biodegradability is the ability of polymers that makes them super friendly for environmentally friendly applications like packaging and medical devices.
- Chemical Resistance: Polymers are not prone to harsh chemical degradations or any type of chemical dissolution which makes them perfect for critical chemical applications.
- Transparency: Polymers can be made transparent which helps in different applications like lenses, eyeglasses, etc.
- Barrier Properties: Most of the time, polymers can act as barriers to water, gas, and other external substances which makes them perfect for packaging material.
What are the Uses of Polymers?
Depending upon custom properties, polymers have various applications throughout every industry as follows:
- 3D Printing: For manufacturing complex shapes, polymers are used in 3D printing. It becomes convenient to manufacture custom-made shapes through them.
- Biodegradable Plastics: Polymers are best used to make biodegradable plastic that is completely environment friendly hence reducing pollution and waste.
- Water Treatment: To remove impurities and contaminants from water, polymers are used. It makes it possible to drink undrinkable water.
- Cosmetics: Different kinds of polymers are used in cosmetic products to provide specific textures and hold in. Examples include lotions, hair gels, and mascaras.
- Adhesives: Polymers replaced old methods of adhesiveness like welding and soldering. It is used to bond different materials together effectively.
III. Difference between Monomers and Polymers
The monomer is from two Greek words meaning one-part (mono-mer) and polymer means many-part (poly-mer). The primary difference between monomers and polymers is that monomers are a single repeating unit and polymers are repetitive units of monomers.
The objective monomers serve in general is to form polymers with different properties.
The molecular weight of polymers are differ from monomers as it’s always higher. Amino-acid and nucleotides are common examples of monomers and proteins are great examples to understand polymers further.
These both revolutionized the material sciences by playing an important part in the plastic manufacturing industry.
We can engineer monomers and polymers to create parts with the desired set of properties such as electrical conductivity, impact/heat resistance, strength & stiffness, and density.
The following points further clarify the difference between monomers and polymers:
- Size: Polymers have very high molecular weight as compared to monomers.
- Building blocks: As polymers have linear and continuous structures, they always have a single repeating unit. However, monomers can have different combination units.
- Physical/chemical properties: Polymers are stronger than monomers and are more resistant to chemicals. Monomers are chemically more reactive than polymers.
- Reaction: Monomers are capable of reacting with identical or different molecules of the same or lower molecular weight to form polymers through the polymerization process.
Why polymers are highly valuable in manufacturing parts because of their very high boiling point and mechanical strength and that’s something monomers lack.
Kemal: Plastic Injection Molding Services
Kemal works with a broad range of high-specification thermoplastics from simple polymers to ceramic and metal replacement plastics. With 10+ years of industrial experience, a highly talented team of engineers, and high-tech injection molding machines, we are ready to meet any requirement with optimal precision.
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Kemal has made on-demand manufacturing easy by enabling you to connect with our engineers to get the best possible plastic injection molding service online.
We can gradually reduce the cost of your parts by simply reducing bulk material or final product waste. Furthermore, we make sure that your design is optimized and meets your structural and quality requirements before modifying it further for cost optimization.
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Before You Go
The role of monomers and polymers in the parts manufacturing industry is undeniably critical as they introduced many high-quality industrial-grade plastics to us.
Kemal has access to hundreds of plastics and polymers to provide you with the optimal one-stop plastic injection molding service.
If the difference between monomers and polymers is still ambiguous to you, then you can try connecting to our customer service so that our engineers can help you make the best decision for your projects.
Connect with us and get your projects done in no time at competitive prices. You can learn more about monomers, polymers, elastomers, and many other materials by surfing our website.
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