What is Polyurethane?

Polyurethane is a versatile material that, depending on how it is formulated, can range in physical properties from soft and malleable to tough and hard.­­ Because of its versatility, polyurethane is used in many industries for a variety of applications. These industries range from aerospace to agriculture, electronics to textiles, and medical to commercial. Polyurethane products are used in many different applications, and include parts like shocks, seals, gaskets, tubing, casters, plugs, impellers, isolators, and cutting surfaces.

Why is polyurethane ideal for so many applications? Polyurethane is incredibly resistant to cracking, abrading, tearing, swelling, high heat, impact, harsh environments, deterioration, and so much more. Polyurethane can insulate, but can also include fillers that increase conductivity; they can bond to wood, metal, and most plastics; they are even resistant to ozone. Even softer, more flexible polyurethane retains its durability and strength in various applications. When it comes down to it, polyurethane is an incredibly durable, versatile, material that is used to make parts and products that stand the test of time, even in extreme conditions.

So what kinds of polyurethane are there? There are two main types of polyurethane: polyester and polyether. Both are elastomers, meaning that they possess elastic properties, and both offer unique performance properties.

Polyester is abrasion-, oil-, and solvent-resistant; resists heat aging; dampens vibrations; has excellent mechanical properties; is highly suitable for food-grade applications; and has a greater split tear strength than polyether.

Polyether has strong resistance to dynamic heat, retains flexibility in low temperatures, has high hydrolytic stability, is highly suitable for food-grade applications, superior rebound properties, and has excellent mechanical properties.