In Magento 1, product attributes have a setting called "Apply to" where you can set the product types for which the attribute will be visible (simple, configurable, etc). However, I don't see it anywhere in Magento 2.
In Magento 2, no more that great feature! I don't understand why they can remove that feature, but it is the truth.
Anyway, there is a great & FREE extension to get that feature back into your system. Please check it at https://belvg.com/blog/big-day-release-apply-to-attribute-option-free-for-magento-2-0.html