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A high molecular weight compound formed by the combination of one or more monomers. Polymers are made by addition or condensation reactions. Polymers, commonly called plastics, are usually categorized by their thermal properties as either thermoplastic or thermoset. Examples include:

1. Thermoplastic - can be heated to soften then cooled to harden without changing its basic properties. Examples are: resin polyacetal, as well as some resin acrylics, ester cellulose esters, fluorocarbons, resin nylons, polycarbonate, polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, and resin vinyl resins.

2. Thermoset - once cured, it cannot be softened with heat or pressure. Examples are: epoxy, resin phenolic resin, as well as some polyurethanes, resin polyesters, silicones, and resin melamine.

Synonyms and Related Terms

polymre (Fr.); polmero (Esp.)


General Characteristics of Polymers

Physical Properties for Selected Thermoplastic Resins

Physical Properties for Selected Thermoset Resins


  • Ralph Mayer, Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Theodore J. Reinhart, Theodore J. Reinhart, 'Glossary of Terms', Engineered Plastics, ASM International, 1988
  • Hoechst Celanese Corporation, Hoechst Celanese Corporation, Dictionary of Fiber & Textile Technology (older version called Man-made Fiber and Textile Dictionary, 1965), Hoechst Celanese Corporation, Charlotte NC, 1990
  • Random House, Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998

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