Condensation Polymer vs. Copolymer

What's the Difference?

Condensation polymer and copolymer are two different types of polymers. Condensation polymers are formed through a condensation reaction, where monomers join together and release a small molecule, such as water, as a byproduct. This reaction occurs between two different types of monomers. On the other hand, copolymers are formed by the polymerization of two or more different monomers. These monomers can be of the same type or different types, and they are randomly distributed throughout the polymer chain. While condensation polymers have a step-growth mechanism, copolymers have a chain-growth mechanism. Both types of polymers have unique properties and applications in various industries.


AttributeCondensation PolymerCopolymer
FormationFormed by the condensation reaction between monomers with the elimination of a small molecule (usually water or alcohol).Formed by the polymerization of two or more different monomers.
MonomersUses identical or similar monomers to form the polymer chain.Uses different monomers to form the polymer chain.
Reaction TypeCondensation reactionPolymerization reaction
Chain LengthVariable chain lengthVariable chain length
End GroupsMay have reactive end groupsMay have reactive end groups
PropertiesCan have a wide range of properties depending on the monomers used and the reaction conditions.Can have a wide range of properties depending on the monomers used and the reaction conditions.
ExamplesPolyester, polyamideABS, PVC

Further Detail


Polymer science is a fascinating field that explores the properties and behavior of various types of polymers. Two important classes of polymers are condensation polymers and copolymers. While both are derived from monomers, they differ in their formation and structure, leading to distinct attributes and applications. In this article, we will delve into the characteristics of condensation polymers and copolymers, highlighting their differences and similarities.

Condensation Polymers

Condensation polymers are formed through a condensation reaction, where two or more monomers combine, releasing a small molecule such as water or alcohol as a byproduct. This reaction occurs between functional groups on the monomers, such as carboxyl and hydroxyl groups, resulting in the formation of strong covalent bonds. Examples of condensation polymers include polyesters, polyamides, and polyurethanes.

One key attribute of condensation polymers is their high molecular weight, which contributes to their excellent mechanical properties. These polymers often exhibit high tensile strength, making them suitable for applications requiring durability and resistance to deformation. Additionally, condensation polymers tend to have good thermal stability, allowing them to withstand high temperatures without significant degradation.

Another important characteristic of condensation polymers is their ability to be easily processed. They can be molded into various shapes using techniques such as injection molding or extrusion. This versatility makes them valuable in industries such as automotive, packaging, and textiles. Furthermore, condensation polymers can be modified through copolymerization or blending with other polymers to enhance specific properties, expanding their range of applications.

Condensation polymers also exhibit good chemical resistance, making them suitable for use in harsh environments. They can resist the effects of acids, bases, and solvents, ensuring their stability and longevity in various applications. Moreover, these polymers often possess excellent barrier properties, preventing the permeation of gases and liquids, which is advantageous in packaging materials and membranes.

However, condensation polymers may have some drawbacks. The condensation reaction used in their synthesis often requires precise control of reaction conditions, including temperature, pressure, and stoichiometry. Any deviation from the optimal conditions can lead to incomplete polymerization or the formation of unwanted byproducts. Additionally, the presence of the byproduct molecule, such as water, can affect the properties of the final polymer, necessitating careful purification steps.


Copolymers, on the other hand, are formed by the polymerization of two or more different monomers. These monomers can be combined in various ways, resulting in different types of copolymers, such as random copolymers, block copolymers, and graft copolymers. The incorporation of different monomers imparts unique properties to copolymers, allowing for a wide range of applications.

One significant advantage of copolymers is their ability to combine the desirable attributes of different monomers. For example, a copolymer composed of a rigid monomer and a flexible monomer can exhibit both stiffness and elasticity, providing a balance of mechanical properties. This versatility makes copolymers highly valuable in industries such as automotive, construction, and electronics.

Copolymers also offer improved processability compared to homopolymers. The presence of different monomers can influence the polymer's melt viscosity, allowing for easier processing through techniques like injection molding or blow molding. Additionally, copolymers can exhibit enhanced thermal stability, as the incorporation of certain monomers can increase the polymer's resistance to heat and degradation.

Furthermore, copolymers often possess unique phase separation behavior, leading to the formation of microdomains with different properties. This phenomenon is particularly evident in block copolymers, where distinct blocks of different monomers self-assemble into well-defined structures. These self-assembled structures can exhibit interesting properties, such as high toughness or selective permeability, making copolymers valuable in applications such as membranes and coatings.

However, copolymers may also have some limitations. The incorporation of different monomers can introduce challenges in terms of synthesis and control of the polymerization process. Achieving the desired monomer ratio and distribution within the copolymer can be challenging, requiring careful selection of reaction conditions and catalysts. Additionally, copolymers may exhibit lower crystallinity compared to homopolymers, affecting their mechanical properties.


Condensation polymers and copolymers are two important classes of polymers with distinct attributes and applications. Condensation polymers, formed through condensation reactions, offer high molecular weight, good thermal stability, and chemical resistance. They can be easily processed and modified, making them versatile in various industries. Copolymers, on the other hand, combine different monomers to achieve unique properties, providing a balance of mechanical characteristics and improved processability. They can exhibit phase separation behavior and self-assembled structures, expanding their applications in specialized areas. Understanding the attributes of condensation polymers and copolymers allows scientists and engineers to select the most suitable materials for specific applications, driving innovation and advancement in polymer science.

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