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Thermoset vs. Thermoplastic

Thermoset Urethane vs. Thermoplastic Urethane

The Difference

What is the difference between thermoset urethane and thermoplastic urethane? Both can be used for a wide variety of applications in a variety of fields; however, because of their unique properties, each is best suited for specific applications.

  • Thermoset urethane is a polymer that cannot be melted and reformed and is generally more durable than thermoplastic urethane.
  • Thermoplastic urethane is a polymer that can be melted and reformed, and is elastic and highly flexible, making it a versatile material suitable for use in a wide range of industries.

Below you will find a breakdown of the physical properties and abilities of thermoset urethane and thermoplastic urethane.

Thermoset Urethane


Abrasion Resistance Properties

Abrasion resistance refers to a material’s capacity to resist abrasion during mechanical actions like rubbing or scraping. A high level of abrasion resistance means a material can outwear materials like rubbers, plastics, and metals by greater margins.

  • Thermoset urethane has a high resistance to abrasion, as well as a high level of cut resistance.
  • Thermoplastic urethane is more likely to tear with abrasive applications.

Heat Resistance Properties

A urethane’s ability to resist heat plays an important role in determining its application.

  • Thermoset urethane performs well in temperatures of up to 250° without issue.
  • Thermoplastic urethane will soften when tested in high temperatures.

Hardness Properties

The hardness of urethane is measured in a range of durability and varies widely from type to type. In fact, urethane can be incredibly soft or hard, depending on its makeup. The scale includes shore OO, which is used to describe extremely soft materials; shore A, the most common scale, is used primarily to describe rubbers and other varieties of elastomer; and shore D, which is used for harder materials like rigid plastics.

  • Thermoset urethane has a wide range of durometers, which are available in both A and D scales.
  • Thermoplastic urethane is softer, and available in a very small range in A scale only.

Load Bearing Capacity Properties

Load-bearing capacity refers to a material’s ability to perform under the great weight like high load-bearing wheels, heavy-duty couplings, metal forming pads, shock pads, and machine mounts.

  • Thermoset urethane holds a high weight per square inch.
  • Thermoplastic urethane holds a low weight per square inch.

Thermoset Polyurethane 

Abrasion Resistance
Best for abrasive applications because of its high resistance to abrasion and cutting.

Heat Resistance
Withstands temperatures of up to 250° without problems.

Has a wide range of durometers available in A & D scales.

Load Bearing Capacity
Able to hold a large amount of weight per square inch.


Thermoplastic Urethane

Abrasion Resistance
Will tear with abrasive applications.

Heat Resistance
Will soften, deform, and degrade in temperatures above 250°.

Has a very small range in “A” scale only.

Load Bearing Capacity
Unable to hold a large amount of weight without destroying the material.


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