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I must confess, I am not a chemistry student but have always been a fan of it, so I am not sure if this is a blunder.

I have often wondered if Thermoplastics can ever be converted to or made to behave like a Thermosetting plastic. In other words, can a Thermoplastics be made more heat resistant?

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Depending on the plastic, it is possible to convert a thermoplastic to a thermoset. The way to achieve this, is by linking the polymer chains in a thermoplastic to one-another and is called 'cross-linking'. Then, the chains cannot 'slide' along-side each other and will therefor become a thermoset. This means the plastic will not melt and start to degrade when the temperature becomes to high for the molecular bonds to hold. Note that cross linking the polymer chains is a chemical reaction which needs certain functional molecules. When the thermoplastic chains have functional groups left to attach a 'cross linker' to, a bridge between two chains can be made. When the thermoplastic has no functional groups left however, it might never be possible to convert the thermoplastic into a thermoset.

Lastly, I would like to subscribe to the idea that there are no stupid questions (or blunders). Just people stupid enough not to ask them. Good job asking this one :)

Hope this helped!

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your response. I was almost giving up. I don't totally understand your answer but I get that it is possible only if there are "functional groups" in the thermoplastic. Now giving nylon has an example, does it have the functional groups you mentioned? $\endgroup$ – burntblark Sep 26 '13 at 8:20
  • $\begingroup$ @burntblark If you could post what parts you don't understand, I would gladly explain more. As for Nylon, most Nylon is Nylon-6 (wikipedia, nylon-6), which has only functional groups to connect the building blocks (or monomers) together. Then, there are no groups left to 'cross-link'. Though Nylon-6 is most common, almost all Nylon has no functional groups, other than the groups used to make the connections between the monomers. Hope this helped :) $\endgroup$ – Eljee Sep 26 '13 at 10:27
  • $\begingroup$ X-ray or beta radiation will probably work with nearly any polymeric material. ;-) $\endgroup$ – Karl Aug 23 '16 at 16:07

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