Polyurethane’s Superb Abrasion Resistance

Various rubber products and sealing products at the exhibition stand. Industry

Polyurethane offers OEMs many attractive properties. One characteristic that distinguishes urethanes from the competition and delivers a huge performance advantage is its superb abrasion resistance. Abrasion resistance is a measure of a part’s ability to withstand and endure surface wear caused by friction. This property is often necessary in environments that experience consistent wear on the surface of a part such as rubbing, scraping, grinding, or erosion that progressively tends to remove material from its surface.

One of the primary reasons urethane is requested in industrial applications is its excellent abrasion resistant properties.  Urethane is incredibly resistant to cracking and tearing that often results from abrasive conditions. Polyurethanes, especially thermosets with their cross-linked structures, are known for having higher abrasion resistance than many other material options. Because of this, urethane often outlasts rubbers, plastics, steel and even ceramics in high abrasion situations. For example, in cases where urethane products experience a great deal of abrasion from combining dynamic loads and high friction, polyurethane surpasses natural rubber and plastics.  In fact, when severe abrasion is a factor, urethane has been known to outwear other materials by a factor of five-to-one to ten-to-one.

Custom urethane products have benefited hundreds of industrial applications ranging from slight to severe wear conditions. Custom urethane parts used in high abrasion applications include bumpers, bushings, wheels, wear liners, skirting materials, and capper rings. In many applications, this abrasion resistance allows OEMs to fabricate polyurethane products with less material than other elastomers would require.  Other benefits of polyurethane in abrasive applications include lighter weight, longer life and reduced maintenance and replacement costs.  Contact the team at PSI to learn more about our extensive experience creating custom polyurethane formulations for abrasive environments.

Types of Abrasion

There are two types of abrasion: sliding and impingement.  Sliding abrasion refers to scraping and rubbing that occurs when one surface slides over another surface, causing strain and the potential for tearing. Impingement abrasion refers to particles or objects striking the part’s surface at a high angle, causing strain and the potential for breaking and damage to the surface. Due to its high tear strength and low coefficient of friction, polyurethane parts are able to resist tearing when exposed to sliding abrasion, and able to absorb the impact and distribute the strain caused by impingement abrasion – all without sacrificing performance or longevity. Most wear during operations is from a combination of both sliding and impingement – and urethane can be formulated to provide excellent protection from both types of abrasion. Common applications for impingement would be chutes while sliding would be a sandblast curtain and wheels.

Abrasion resistance is usually measured in the percent of mass or volume loss.  There are various standardized methods to test abrasion resistance that typically entail scratching, grinding, or rubbing away a part’s surface to gauge the material’s abrasion resistance. However, laboratory abrasion tests are difficult to correlate with end-use applications as the rate of wear is often accelerated for testing purposes which changes the operating conditions such as temperature due to the incremental heat generation. Measurement of properties can be helpful; however, they do not necessarily compare to wear rates in actual service which can be impacted significantly by conditions such as speed and temperature. Laboratory abrasion tests are more helpful when comparing various materials than for predicting a part’s performance and longevity in the field. Field tests under normal operating conditions are often the best method to determine abrasion resistance.

For this reason, it is helpful to work with a proven and knowledgeable partner, like PSI Urethanes, that can guide you through the material selection process based on our experience creating parts for abrasive environments. Let the technical sales staff at PSI assist you with developing the best custom urethane formulation for your specific abrasive application.

Does your team have an application that would benefit from a product with superb abrasion resistance?

Contact PSI to learn more about our custom polyurethane solutions and our experience creating parts for abrasive applications.

Contact Us


Custom Polyurethane Formulations for Abrasion Resistance

Polyurethanes are an elastomer which makes them ideal for abrasive applications because they yield easily and distribute stresses imposed on them.  It is important to note that not just any elastomer can be used successfully in abrasive applications.  For example, the angle of the particle impingement has a significant effect on which material should be used. For this reason, OEMs should work with the experts at PSI to develop the best polyurethane formulation to create the right elastomer for their specific application.

Custom urethane products are an ideal solution for a variety of applications. Some products require a custom formulation in order to achieve the desired properties and requisite specifications. When creating a custom part, there are countless polyurethane formulation choices that will affect performance. Sorting through the options to determine what is best for your product can be challenging. Leveraging our 50+ years of industry experience, PSI technical representatives and design staff will work closely with you to meet your specifications – from concept to prototype to production. We operate from our 45,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Austin, Texas, which houses an extensive stock of polyurethane products. Our fully equipped manufacturing facility includes a versatile range of processing machinery, which allows us to work on unique, one-of-a-kind projects, as well as high volume components.

At PSI, our standard polyurethane formulations hold up to the abrasion resistance needed to give your average part optimal life.  However, when your application is more aggressive, our experts offer specialty urethane formulations that will increase the life and productivity of your part.  Regardless of the durometer (hardness), there are two main categories:

  • Polyester Urethane Formulations have a higher capacity for sliding abrasion resistance, which makes it ideal for applications like scraper blades and chute liners.  Esters work best for angled abrasion applications, such as an abrasive slurry traveling down the chute.
  • Polyether Urethane Formulations offer excellent impingement abrasion resistance, which makes it the choice for sandblast curtains and bumpers.  Ethers have a higher rebound and that is especially important when the part takes an impact head on.

About PSI Urethanes

Since 1966, through our own independent research and activity in the Polyurethane Manufacturers Association, PSI Urethanes has stayed on the leading edge of urethane technology – including developing advances in new materials, comprehensive designs, and processing technologies. Today we are among the most respected and trusted suppliers of custom urethane products.

Our in-house engineering, tooling, and custom mold shop, produces custom and stock production orders with exceptionally fast turn-around times. From conception to prototyping, to final production runs, our technical representatives and design engineers will work closely with your staff to meet your critical tolerances and specifications. You are guaranteed to receive experienced, professional, and personalized service from the first contact through your on-time delivery, with complete confidentiality and dedication to protecting your good name.

PSI Urethanes specializes in custom urethane products. Contact us today to see how we can help with your next manufacturing project, or give us a call at 1-800-888-5156.