The Difference Between Natural and Synthetic Polymers

The Difference Between Natural and Synthetic Polymers

You’ll find polymers in numerous places, and they will normally come in two different types: natural and synthetic. Both types have different features, and manufacturers and scientists must understand these variations. Read on to learn more about the difference between natural and synthetic polymers.

What Makes a Polymer?

Polymers are the products of large molecules called macromolecules containing chemical compounds called monomers. Monomers contain various chemicals and create a material or substance with various features when combined with other monomers.

Polymers have either manufactured or natural features, depending on how they form and where you find them. These polymers have types, such as natural and synthetic, that determine their origins and use.

Natural Polymers

Examples of natural polymers include tree bark, the proteins in your body, and the silk from silkworms. They all have a water-based composition, as it’s necessary for living organisms to produce polymers. Natural polymers have numerous properties that benefit the organism that made them, such as tree latex keeping the bark stuck to the wood and preventing it from falling off.

Since these natural polymers are better suited for the organism they are made by, they may not have other uses. Tree latex is sticky and thick, making it challenging to work with. This is one of the primary differences between natural and synthetic polymers; natural polymers are situational and would require the implementation of other monomers to change their properties for extrinsic use.

Synthetic Polymers

We use synthetic polymers in our everyday tools and appliances. These manufactured polymers make up countless products or materials. Synthetic polymers have different monomers that make a macromolecule common in plastics.

The plastic will have a different appearance, durability, or flexibility depending on the monomers, creating a product for certain use. For example, polyethylene has multiple monomers of ethylene, making plastic hard but flexible enough to crush.

If you added a different monomer to the macromolecule, it would create a different plastic. Synthetic polymers will create plastic injection molding parts to produce plastic products with various features. This is all thanks to the different monomers used to make their macromolecules.

Polymers give us numerous opportunities to make new things, and it’s important to know the types of polymers and their differences to utilize their properties. There are many examples of synthetic and natural polymers around us, and understanding them makes manufacturing simpler and more effective.

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