Synthetic Resins - Changing the World Like Never Before

Team Chemical Market

09 Feb 2024


In the enigmatic realm of materials, where science intertwines with technology, Synthetic resins stand out for their versatility and utility.  These Polymer materials possess a multi-faceted nature, capable of being made to adapt to diverse environments and roles. In their viscous depths lies a history of innovation. They allure curious minds to tap their profound properties, to serve the tapestry of modern civilization.  The word "resin" on first thought flashes unto our minds a gummy liquid. These are natural resins like Rosin from pine trees, Shellac from the Lac Beetle, and Gum Arabic from the acacia tree, etc. In this article, we dwell on the various aspects of Synthetic resins.   These are man-made polymers produced through chemical synthesis.


Synthetic resins fall under the classification of polymers. They comprise large molecules consisting of repeated structural units called monomers, which are usually organic compounds often containing carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and other elements. The process of combining these monomers to yield polymer materials is called polymerization. Examples of polymers include polyethylene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride, nylon, etc.

Synthetic resins primarily originate from monomers like formaldehyde, phenol, epoxy, or acrylic acid. It is crucial to distinguish them from plastics which stem from synthetic or semi-synthetic polymers derived from petrochemicals. Although both plastics and resins are polymers, their composition, physical properties, and applications markedly differ.

Types of Synthetic Resins

Resins are often viscous liquids before they undergo curing or polymerization. Once cured they become solid, and can have properties from rigid and durable to flexible and adhesive. There are two types of synthetic resins - Thermosetting and Thermoplastic.

Thermosetting resins:-
  • Posses a cross-linked molecular structure
  • Harden irreversibly when heated.
  • Do not soften when cooled or re-heating.

Thermoplastic resins:-
  • Feature a  linear or branched molecular structure.
  • Soften when heated and solidify upon cooling.
  • There is only a physical transition without a chemical change.

A few examples of Synthetic resins for general purpose and Industrial resin usage :
  • Epoxy resins:  Derived from the reaction of epoxide groups ( typically from bisphenol A and bisphenol F) with curing agents such as amines or acids. Being thermosetting, they exhibit resistance to chemicals and provide strong adhesion and high mechanical strength.
  • Polyester resins: These are thermosetting polymers formed by the reactions of deols with dicarboxylic acids. Used for making FRP (fiberglass reinforced plastics), they are used in the boat, automobile, and construction industries.  Water repellent, good mechanical strength,  and ease of use make this type of resin attractive.
  • Polyurethane resins:  Depending on the formulation, these versatile resins could be either thermosetting or thermoplastic. They result from the reaction of isocyanates with polyols.   Known for their flexibility, durability, and chemical resistance, making them ideal for coatings, adhesives, foams, and sealants.   
  • Phenolic resins: Derived from phenol and Formaldehyde, these thermosetting polymers are heat-resistant, flame retardant, and find use in the manufacture of electrical and automotive components. Their properties enable them to be widely used in adhesives, binders, and molded parts.
  • Vinyl resins: Vinyl resins offer good chemical resistance and are weatherproof. Formulated from from vinyl monomers such as vinyl chloride, vinyl acetate, etc this thermoplastic polymer is used in synthetic leather production, packaging films, etc.
  • Acrylic resins: Made from acrylic acid or its derivatives, this thermosetting polymer is scratch-resistant, and frequently employed in paints, coatings, adhesives, and dental materials.
  • Alkyd resins:  Known for their excellent film-forming properties and durability, these are polyester-based polymers modified with fatty acids or oils.
  • Polyvinyl Acetate (PVA) resin: Primarily used as adhesives, this thermoplastic polymer finds wide application in paperboard packaging, bonding labels, laminated paper, etc.
  • Urea - Formaldehyde (UF) resin: This thermosetting polymer is used as a bonding agent. Its versatility finds usage in the production of particleboard, plywood, fiberglass insulation foam-boards, etc. Decorative laminates and countertops use this resin as it provides a scratch-resistant surface finish.
  • Melamine-Formaldehyde (MF) resin:  Its high heat resistance and durable properties make this thermosetting polymer suitable for use in many areas. Melamine tableware, food containers, decorative laminates, and molded components for the electrical and automotive industries are some of them.

Present Scenario

A brief overview reveals a diverse range of resin applications, inputs, and end products. While a considerable amount of raw materials, including chemicals and additives are imported, India hosts resin manufacturers catering to bulk requirements across various sectors. Some specialty resins may still be imported.

The Future

One promising area lies in the generation of electricity through non - conventional energy sources ( NCES) and Electric vehicles (EVs).  Thrust in these areas is driven by government policies promoting clean and green energy. Below are outlined several particulars :

  • Windmills require blades that are lightweight strong and corrosion resistant.
  • Aerofoil designs are incorporated into them to give higher efficiency.
  • Built by using composite materials with resins. Resin types used are vinyl ester, polyester, epoxy, etc.
  • Adhesive resins are used for bonding various components in the wind turbine blade such as spur caps, shear webs, and blade shells.
  • Resin for surface coating enhances durability and longevity.

Electric vehicles (EVs)
  • EV components must be lightweight with good mechanical strength, making resins a natural choice.
  • Resins reinforced with glass fiber or carbon fiber are used for body panels, chassis, and structural reinforcements. These give exceptional strength-to-weight ratio.
  • Motor encapsulation uses resins for winding insulation and better thermal conductivity. It also safeguards against moisture and contaminants, to prolong motor lifespan.
  • Li-ion battery encapsulation employs potting compounds and adhesives. These protect against vibration and heat, thus enhancing vehicle safety.

Robotics is another futuristic area. Resins are used in several places including enclosures and housings, structural components, joints and connectors, and electronic circuit boards, among others.


There is much variety in resins today and it holds a promising future. We find ourselves standing at the threshold of discovery, enriched by the tapestry of knowledge woven before us. In some ways, there is a mystery, when we unravel the intricate narrative of resins with curiosity. And in doing so, we continue the legacy of discovery, innovation, and creativity that has characterized humanity's tireless pursuit of knowledge.


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