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Plastic Melting Point: Melting Temperatures Across Different Materials

Plastics are versatile materials known for their wide-ranging applications in industries ranging from packaging and construction to electronics and automotive. One critical property that distinguishes different types of plastics is their melting point, which significantly impacts their processing, durability, and potential applications.

plastic melting point

What is Melting Point?

Melting point is an important physical property in materials science, referring to the temperature at which a solid substance changes from its solid state to a liquid state under standard atmospheric pressure. When a substance reaches its melting point, the intermolecular forces (such as Van der Waals forces, hydrogen bonds, or ionic bonds) within it begin to weaken, allowing the molecules to move relatively freely, resulting in the gradual transformation of the solid material into a liquid. During this process, the solid material starts to lose its solid-state shape and rigidity, becoming fluid.

What is the Melting Point of Plastic?

Plastics can be broadly classified into two main categories based on their response to heat:

a. Thermoplastics:

  • Definition: Thermoplastics soften and become moldable when heated, allowing them to be reshaped multiple times.
  • Melting Point: The melting points of thermoplastics vary widely depending on their chemical composition. For instance, polyethylene (PE) typically melts around 115-135°C (239-275°F), while polypropylene (PP) melts around 130-171°C (266-340°F). Higher-performance thermoplastics like polyamide (nylon) can have melting points ranging from 180-300°C (356-572°F).
  • Properties: They retain their solid state when cooled and can be recycled by re-melting and reshaping, making them environmentally favorable.

b. Thermosetting Plastics:

  • Definition: Thermosets undergo a chemical reaction when heated, irreversibly curing and forming a rigid, cross-linked structure.
  • Behavior: Unlike thermoplastics, thermosets do not melt upon heating but instead decompose or burn at high temperatures. Examples include epoxy resins, polyester resins, and phenolic resins.
  • Curing Temperature: Thermosets typically cure between 100-200°C (212-392°F), depending on the specific resin and curing process.

Principles of Melting Point Determination

The basic principle of melting point determination is to observe the temperature at which a crystalline substance transitions from a solid state to a liquid state through heating. At the melting point, the solid and liquid phases are in equilibrium, with equal vapor pressures. Pure substances typically have a fixed melting point, while substances mixed with impurities will have a longer melting range and a lowered melting point.

Melting point determination is an important method to determine the purity of solid organic compounds. By measuring the melting point or melting range of a substance and comparing it to known data, the purity of the substance can be assessed. A shorter melting range indicates a purer compound. This method has wide applications in chemistry, pharmaceuticals, materials science, and other fields.

Melting Characteristics of Plastics

The melting characteristics of plastics are determined by their molecular arrangement. Crystalline materials, with orderly arranged molecules, possess a fixed melting point. In contrast, amorphous materials, with disordered molecular arrangements, lack a fixed melting point and gradually soften upon heating instead of melting at a specific point. Plastics are classified into amorphous and crystalline types. Amorphous plastics, under typical processing conditions, are fully disordered and exhibit melting behavior similar to amorphous materials.

However, crystalline plastics, such as polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyoxymethylene (POM), polyamide (PA6 and PA66), PET, and PBT, form crystalline regions during cooling and solidification. The degree of crystallinity is significantly influenced by the cooling process, where slow cooling within the crystallization temperature range increases crystallinity, while rapid cooling has the opposite effect. Therefore, the melting process of these crystalline plastics partially resembles that of crystalline materials but also incorporates characteristics of amorphous materials.

Key Temperatures and States in Plastic Heating Processes

When plastics are heated, they traverse three distinct states: the glassy state, the rubbery (high-elastic) state, and the viscous flow state. These transitions are marked by four key temperatures: the glass transition temperature (Tg), the melting temperature (Tm, also known as the flow temperature, Tf), and the decomposition temperature (Td).

In the glassy state, plastics are rigid and brittle at room or low temperatures, as molecular movement is severely restricted below the Tg. Above the Tg, plastics transition to a more flexible rubbery state, where polymer chains gain energy and move more freely. This state is characterized by significant elasticity and resilience.

As the temperature rises further, plastics reach the viscous flow state at the flow temperature (Tf). Here, plastics become highly fluid, resembling a viscous liquid. This state is crucial for plastic processing techniques like injection molding, where the plastic is shaped by extrusion, injection, or compression.

Finally, the decomposition temperature (Td) marks the point where plastics begin to chemically decompose, losing their original physical and chemical properties. Exceeding this temperature leads to the breakdown of plastic into smaller molecules, potentially releasing gases and other decomposition products. Therefore, it’s essential to avoid exceeding the Td to prevent material damage and the release of harmful substances.

It’s important to note that the melting temperature (Tm) is not a fixed point but a range within which plastics transition from the rubbery to the viscous flow state. The width of this range depends on the specific type of plastic and its molecular structure complexity.

Different Plastic Melting and Mold Temperatures Ranges

MaterialMelting Point Range (℃)Mold Temperature Range (℃)Characteristics
Acetal160-17040-100High strength, wear resistance, chemical resistance
Acrylic10550-80High transparency, good weatherability, easy processing
Polyethylene (PE)LDPE: 105-115, HDPE: 130-13520-60Good chemical stability, electrical insulation, easy processing
Polypropylene (PP)160-17020-50Chemical resistance, impact resistance, good thermal stability
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)75-8530-60Excellent electrical insulation, good processing, low cost
Polystyrene (PS)240-25040-70High transparency, rigidity, easy processing
Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)245-25580-120Excellent mechanical properties, high transparency, good weatherability
Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)105-11550-80High strength, impact resistance, easy processing
Polycarbonate (PC)220-23080-120High transparency, high strength, impact resistance, good heat resistance
ABS/PC Alloy245-26540-80Excellent mechanical properties, high impact resistance, odorless
Cellulose Acetate Butyrate (CAB)180-23050-80High transparency, good weatherability, chemical resistance
High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)130-13520-60Good chemical stability, abrasion resistance
Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)105-11520-60Flexible, easy processing, low-temperature resistance
Nylon 6 or Polyamide215-22550-90High strength, wear resistance, self-lubricating
Polyether Ether Ketone (PEEK)335-343150-200Maintains mechanical properties at high temperatures, wear resistance
Polyester (PBT)220-230100-140Good heat resistance, chemical resistance

Factors Influencing the Melting Temperature of Plastic

The melting temperature of plastic is determined by a variety of factors that affect its thermal properties and behavior. Here are the key factors that influence the melting temperature of plastic:

Chemical Structure of the Polymer

The chemical structure of a polymer significantly impacts its melting temperature. Different types of plastics, characterized by distinct molecular compositions, exhibit varying melting points.

  • Hydrocarbon Content: Plastics containing a higher number of hydrocarbon groups tend to have higher melting temperatures. For example, polyethylene (PE), which is composed mainly of hydrocarbon chains, has a higher melting point compared to plastics with different functional groups.
  • Functional Groups: The presence of different functional groups, such as ester, amide, or ether linkages, can alter the melting temperature. Polymers like polyesters and polyamides (nylons) have higher melting points due to strong intermolecular forces like hydrogen bonding.

Degree of Crystallinity

The degree of crystallinity within a plastic material also plays a crucial role in determining its melting temperature.

  • Crystalline Plastics: Crystalline plastics have molecules arranged in a highly ordered, repeating pattern. This orderly arrangement increases the material’s resistance to heat, resulting in higher melting temperatures. Examples include polypropylene (PP) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE).
  • Amorphous Plastics: In contrast, amorphous plastics have a random molecular arrangement, leading to lower melting temperatures. Polystyrene (PS) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) are examples of amorphous plastics.

Mass Ratio of Components

The composition and mass ratio of different components within a plastic can affect its melting temperature.

  • Copolymer Composition: In copolymers like ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), the mass ratio of its monomers—acrylonitrile, butadiene, and styrene—directly influences the melting temperature. Adjusting these ratios can tailor the thermal properties to specific applications.


Additives introduced during the manufacturing process can modify the melting temperature of plastics.

  • Heat Stabilizers: Additives such as heat stabilizers can increase the melting temperature, enhancing the material’s thermal stability and making it suitable for high-temperature applications.
  • Plasticizers: Conversely, plasticizers can lower the melting temperature, improving the flexibility and processability of the plastic.
  • Fillers and Reinforcements: The addition of fillers, such as glass fibers or mineral fillers, can affect the thermal properties, sometimes increasing the melting temperature due to enhanced structural integrity.

Temperature Importance of Plastic Melting Points

The melting temperature of plastics is crucial as it significantly impacts various aspects of their manufacturing and processing. It is essential to understand the melting temperature to determine the appropriate plastic forming methods, such as injection molding, extrusion, and blow molding. Exceeding the melting temperature can lead to degradation, deformation, and undesirable changes in plastic properties.

In the manufacturing and processing process, the melting temperature is a key factor in selecting appropriate processes. Heating plastics to a specific melting temperature allows them to transition from a solid to a molten state for shaping. Exceeding this temperature can result in material degradation, deformation, and changes in plastic properties, such as strength reduction and loss of desired performance.

By controlling and adhering to the recommended melting temperature range, manufacturers can prevent these issues and ensure the stability and quality of plastic products. The melting temperature serves as a guideline to achieve desired properties, dimensional accuracy, and structural integrity during plastic material manufacturing and processing.

How to improve the matching between the temperature and melting temperature of plastic molds?

A profound understanding of how mold temperature and melt temperature work together to yield optimal part quality is essential. In most cases, combining a lower melt temperature with a higher mold temperature leads to the best performance.

Unfortunately, many plastic injection molding operators lack the technical skills to effectively manage these two critical components. They often wrongly believe that increasing the melt temperature is the sole way to reduce resin viscosity.

However, an excessively high melt temperature can lead to resin decomposition, extended cooling periods, and increased energy consumption. To compensate for the lost productivity due to longer cooling cycles, manufacturers may inadvertently lower the mold temperature. This approach, though restoring some productivity, often compromises part properties due to the high melt and low mold temperatures, resulting in inconsistent parts.

How the Melting Point of Plastic Affects Its Applications?

Plastic, a versatile synthetic material, is integral to numerous aspects of daily life. Here’s a detailed look at how the melting point influences its use in several key industries, along with additional insights into two more sectors.

Construction Industry

In the construction industry, the melting point of plastic determines its use in various building materials and components. Plastics with high melting points, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyethylene (PE), are used for pipes and fittings due to their ability to withstand high temperatures and pressures.

For insulation and other structural components, materials like expanded polystyrene (EPS) are utilized. These plastics provide excellent thermal insulation and are easy to mold into different shapes, making them ideal for energy-efficient building designs.

Packaging Applications

In the realm of packaging, the melting point of plastic plays a significant role in determining its suitability for different storage environments. Plastics with lower melting points, such as low-density polyethylene (LDPE), are ideal for packaging items stored at low temperatures, like frozen foods. These plastics remain flexible and resistant to cracking under cold conditions.

For packaging that involves high-temperature storage, such as hot beverages, plastics with higher melting points, like polypropylene (PP), are preferred. These materials can withstand elevated temperatures without deforming, ensuring the safety and integrity of the packaged contents.

Electronic Devices

In the electronics industry, the melting point of plastic is critical for both recycling and performance. Plastics with lower melting points, like polystyrene (PS), are often used for producing casings and components that can be easily recycled.

On the other hand, plastics with higher melting points, such as polyimide, are essential for manufacturing circuit boards and components that need to withstand high operational temperatures. These materials offer thermal stability and durability, which are crucial for electronic devices.

Medical Equipment

In the medical sector, plastics are widely used to manufacture a variety of devices and instruments. Plastics with lower melting points, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), are suitable for producing reusable medical equipment that can be recycled.

For devices that require sterilization and high durability, like surgical instruments, plastics with higher melting points are preferred. Materials like polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) can withstand sterilization processes without degrading, ensuring patient safety and device longevity.

Consumer Goods

The melting point of plastic also significantly impacts the production of consumer goods. Lower melting point plastics, such as polyethylene (PE), are commonly used to produce affordable household items and toys due to their cost-effectiveness and ease of processing.

In contrast, premium consumer goods, like high-quality kitchenware, often utilize plastics with higher melting points, such as polycarbonate (PC). These materials offer enhanced durability and heat resistance, making them ideal for items that undergo frequent use and exposure to heat.

Textile Industry

In the textile industry, the melting point of plastic fibers is crucial for the manufacturing of fabrics and clothing. Plastics like polyester, with a relatively high melting point, are used to produce durable, wrinkle-resistant fabrics that can withstand repeated washing and drying at high temperatures.

For specialized applications, such as fire-resistant clothing, materials like aramid fibers (e.g., Kevlar) are employed. These fibers have extremely high melting points and provide excellent protection against heat and flames.

Automotive and Aerospace Industries

The automotive and aerospace sectors demand materials that offer both high durability and heat resistance. Plastics with high melting points are crucial for manufacturing load-bearing components, such as car bodies and aircraft fuselages. High-performance plastics like polyether ether ketone (PEEK) can endure significant mechanical stress and high temperatures without degrading.

For extremely high-temperature applications, such as rocket engine components, materials like polyetherimide (PEI) are used. These plastics provide the necessary heat resistance and mechanical strength required in such demanding environments.


By understanding and selecting the appropriate plastic based on its melting point, manufacturers can optimize product functionality and meet the specific demands of various applications.

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What is the melting point of plastic?

The melting point of plastic varies widely depending on its type and chemical composition. For example, low-density polyethylene (LDPE) melts at around 115-135°C (239-275°F), while high-performance plastics like polyether ether ketone (PEEK) can have melting points as high as 343°C (649°F). The specific melting point is determined by the polymer’s molecular structure and other factors.

Can additives influence the melting point of plastic?

Yes, additives can alter the melting point of plastic. Heat stabilizers can be added to increase a plastic’s melting temperature, enhancing its thermal stability for high-temperature applications. Conversely, plasticizers can lower the melting point, improving the material’s flexibility and ease of processing. Fillers and reinforcements can also affect thermal properties, sometimes increasing the melting point due to added structural integrity.

Catalog: Materials Guide

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