What is the Difference Between Resin and Plastic

Resins and plastics are two substances that can be commonly seen in daily life. They are made from simple to complex polymer structures. Understanding the difference between resin and plastic is essential for selecting the right material for specific projects and requirements.

What is the difference between resin and plastic? Resin can be natural or synthetic, whereas plastic is always synthetic.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Resin 
      – Definition, Features 
2. What is Plastic
      – Definition, Features 
3. Similarities Between Resin and Plastic
      – Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Resin and Plastic
      – Comparison of Key Differences
5. FAQ: Resin and Plastic
      – Frequently Asked Questions

Key Terms

Resin, Plastic

Difference Between Resin and Plastic  - Comparison Summary

What is Resin

A resin is a sticky, viscous substance that can be either natural or synthetic. Natural resins are produced by plants as a defense mechanism against insects and diseases. They are typically yellow or brown in color and can be found in trees, such as pine trees and some shrubs. Common examples of natural resins include amber, copal, dammar, mastic, and shellac.

Synthetic resins are man-made materials that are created from a variety of chemicals. They are often used in place of natural resins because they are more durable and have a wider range of properties. Common examples of synthetic resins include epoxy, polyester, polyurethane, and acrylic.

Vinyl ester resin

There are many uses of resins. In the fields of construction and manufacturing, resins act as a glue that binds things together, especially in composite materials. They are used in the manufacture of lightweight and strong structures in airplanes, surfboards, and boats. Additionally, resins are useful in coatings for furniture, floors, and even cars, providing a layer of protection against scratches, water damage, and wear. They also help as adhesives to bind materials such as wood, plastic, and metal. It is also useful in sculpting and casting.

What is Plastic

Plastic is a material consisting of a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic compounds made into polymers. These are malleable substances. These polymers, often containing carbon chains as their backbone, are the building blocks that give plastic its unique properties.

There are two main types of plastic depending on how heat affect them. They are thermoplastics and thermosets. Thermoplastics can be softened and remoulded when heated. An example is PET (polyethylene terephthalate), which is common in water bottles. This allows for recycling and reshaping. Thermosets, like bakelite, harden permanently after their initial molding due to cross-linking between polymer chains.


These plastic polymers may collectively be with additives. Plasticizers make them more flexible, while stabilizers protect them from degradation. Dyes and pigments add color, and fillers can enhance strength or reduce costs.

There are many uses of plastics. One use is packaging. In construction, PVC pipes and plastic lumber offer durability and weather resistance. Medical applications are abundant, from sterile syringes to prosthetic limbs, where plastics balance strength and biocompatibility.

Similarities Between Resin and Plastic

  1. Both are made up of large, chain-like molecules called polymers.
  2. They are used in a wide range of applications, including construction, automotive, packaging, and consumer goods.

Difference Between Resin and Plastic


  • A resin is a sticky, viscous substance that can be either natural or synthetic, whereas a plastic is a material consisting of a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic compounds made into polymers.

Heat Resistance

  • Resins generally have lower heat resistance compared to plastics.


  • Resins can be more brittle after curing, especially natural resins. Plastics can be designed to be more flexible or rigid based on application.


  • Resins are often used for coatings, adhesives, and composite materials, while plastics, due to their versatility, have a much wider range of applications.


Although both are made of polymers, there is a difference between resin and plastic in their sources, structures, and uses. Resin, whether natural or synthetic, is commonly used as an adhesive and protective coating in construction, manufacturing, and art projects. On the other hand, plastic, being a synthetic polymer, offers a wider variety of properties and applications.

FAQ: Resin and Plastic

1. Is resin the same as plastic?

No, resin and plastic are two different substances. Resins have much simpler polymers, whereas plastics have much more complex polymers in their structure.

2. What is an advantage of resin over plastic?

An advantage of resin over plastic is its higher detail resolution in 3D printing. Resins used in stereolithography (SLA) or digital light processing (DLP) 3D printers can achieve finer levels of detail and smoother surface finishes compared to traditional plastic filaments used in fused deposition modeling (FDM) printers.

3. Is PVC a polymer or resin?

PVC is a thermoplastic polymer. PVC stands for poly vinyl chloride. It is formed from vinyl chloride monomers through polymerization.

4. Is epoxy resin waterproof?

Yes, epoxy resin is waterproof once it has fully cured. When properly applied and cured, epoxy resin forms a strong and impermeable bond, preventing water from permeating through it. This makes epoxy resin an excellent choice for waterproofing various surfaces, including wood, concrete, fiberglass, and metals.


1. “Resin.” Encyclopedia Britannica.
2. “Plastic.” Encyclopedia Britannica.

Image Courtesy:

1. “MethmethacrylateBPA-glyc” By Smokefoot – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Plastics Summary” By Orion Lawlor – Own work (CC0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Hasini A

Hasini is a graduate of Applied Science with a strong background in forestry, environmental science, chemistry, and management science. She is an amateur photographer with a keen interest in exploring the wonders of nature and science.

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