RESIN: Semi-solid, solid or pseudo-solid amorphous organic substances.

Generally, the molecular weight is relatively high, and there is no fixed melting point, but there is a softening or melting range.
There is a tendency to flow under stress.

Resin is usually divided into two categories: natural resin and synthetic resin. The former is usually a non-volatile organic solid produced by plants due to physiological (pathological) effects, such as rosin, amber, shellac, etc. The latter is a polymer because some of the polymers discovered earlier have physical forms and properties that resemble natural resins.

Natural Resin
Synthetic Resin

Natural resin:

A resin substance produced by plants and animals. Amorphous semi-solid or solid organic matter that mainly derived from plant exudates (excretion). It is able to melt, becomes soft when heated, and tends to flow under stress. It is generally insoluble in water but soluble in alcohol, ether, ketone, and other organic solvents. In the polymer field, it is widely used in coatings and adhesives.

Synthetic resin:

A kind of artificially synthesized polymer compound that has or exceeds the inherent characteristics of natural resin. The molecular weight is not limited but is often a high-molecular-weight solid, semi-solid, or pseudo (quasi) solid organic substance, which tends to flow when stressed, often has a softening or melting range, and is shell-like when broken.

In practical applications, it is often used synonymously with polymers or even plastics, and especially refers to the basic materials produced by the polymerization reaction of monomers without any additives or with only a very small amount of additives.

The world’s three major synthetic materials include: synthetic resin, synthetic rubber, and synthetic fiber.

Synthetic resin is the synthetic material with the highest output and consumption.

Thermoplastics examples
Thermoset Polymer examples

Thermoplastic resin is a kind of resin with a linear structure. It gets softened when heated and hardened when cooled and has no chemical reaction during the process. It can maintain this property no matter how many times the heating and cooling are repeated.

It contains plasticity in softening state and can be processed into required products by molding, extrusion or secondary forming. When it is cooled below softening temperature, it can maintain the mold shape and have certain mechanical properties.

Thermosetting resins cannot be softened repeatedly by heating. The resin is liquid before forming and has a fusible property. It can undergo a chemical crosslinking reaction and cure to form an infusible three-dimensional network structure through heating, catalysis, or other chemical and physical methods.

It has excellent comprehensive properties, including high strength, good heating resistance, excellent electrical properties, corrosion resistance, aging resistance, good dimensional stability, and so on.


Above are two images I found on the internet to visually present the difference between Thermoplastic polymers and Thermoset polymers.

There are tons of terms confused me a lot: Rubber, Plastic, Acrylic, Resin, Glass, Organic Glass…I cannot figure out the differences and connections between each two words. So, if you have the same problem with me, here is a chart drawn by myself to indicate the relationship:


Additionally, there are some typical use of resin in furniture making. I searched on the internet and selected two pieces of furniture as examples:

examples on resin furniture
examples on resin furniture

A Self-Directed Research:

To explore the functional use of the material properties of resin, I bought two bottles of liquid resin and found something interesting: A, the thickness of resin is control-able. B, it is soft and flexible when it is thinner, it is hard and strong when it is thicker.

The resin I bought
  • Pottery Technique-Inspiration

There is a pottery making technique: Make a hollowed mold first. Pour the liquid material inside, let the liquid cover the whole inner surface and pour the extra liquid out. Bake the mold and make sure the inside is totally dry, then pour the liquid to get a second layer. Repeat the process until the model gets the right thickness, break the mold and take out the model.

I tried the same technique by using the liquid resin, and it worked!

  • Change the shape-Halfway Curing

It is kind of interesting that I am able to take the resin out of the mold before the resin is totally cured. I could bend or shape the hot rubber-like resin in anyway I like and it stays the shape when it cools down.

  • Lamination
I came up with a question: Could the multiple thin layers be more  flexible than one solid piece if they have the same thickness?

After testing, the multiple thin layers is more flexible than one solid piece under the same thickness. The discovery could be useable in furniture design:

What if I make a chair out of resin, utilize the strength of solid resin to build the structure, and utilize the flexibility of multiple thin layers as upholstery? 

What do you think? Is there any other interesting properties or practical use of resin that come up to you? Feel free to share any thoughts!


  1. Author: Xia Zhengnong, Chen Zhili. 《Da Ci Hai: materials and science volume》, published by Shanghai Dictionary Publishing House on December, 2015. 


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