What’s the difference between hot and cold thermoplastic?

Hot and cold thermoplastic are two products commonly used in the line marking industry due to the longevity of the markings once laid.

Hot thermoplastic is a plastic polymer that can be used once heated to around 200c; cold thermoplastic (MMA) is technically not a thermoplastic as it’s a reactive resin called methyl methacrylate that works when peroxide is added.

Hot thermoplastic is commonly used when marking parking spaces, roads and outdoor sports markings on tarmac. Hot thermoplastic can be used on concrete as long as a primer has been applied, which acts as an adhesive.

Picture: Hot thermoplastic markings being laid

Cold thermoplastic is used with a draw box for wording, directional arrows and car park bays. Cold thermoplastic has peroxide added to it that sets off a chemical reaction that heats it up so that it can be used for line marking, and helps it to set. Take a look at the video on our YouTube channel to see one of our operatives marking a disabled parking symbol using a draw box. Spray MMA is used with one of our line marking machines when a draw box can’t be used. Reactive beads are added when using spray MMA to cure the line markings.

When markings needs to be reflective, such as road markings and airport markings, glass beads are added as the markings are laid. Although you can use recycled glass it can appear a bit dull so virgin glass is used for optimal reflectivity even from great distances, which is especially important in aviation.

As with all markings they are only as good as the surfaces they have been marked on. Having properly prepared surfaces that are clean and clear of debris are essential for line markings to last. For more information about thermoplastic or ground preparation get in touch via our contact page.