Currently, polyurethanes (PU) are among the most popular and the most broadly applied polymers in the world. Polyurethane is relatively often talked about as a material that has even unlimited possibilities of application. At the same time, it is one of the most important contemporary plastics.
Polyurethanes are created as a result of addition polymerization, of multifunctional isocyanates (component B) with polyols (component A), which are derived from crude oil. As a result of mixing of both components, a chemical reaction starts and polyurethanes are created, usually in the form of foam. What is important, the polyol part in its advanced formula contains carefully selected auxiliary substances, inter alia, catalysts, foaming agents (porophores), stabilizers and surfactants.
By replacing some of the components determined above or modifying proportions of component A to B in the mixture, it is possible to regulate the physical and mechanical properties of the created polyurethane. It is aimed at obtaining of materials of various rigidity, resilience or strength. At the same time, this material is suitable for concrete and often individual specific applications. Simultaneously, thanks to polyurethane plastics, it is possible to use the natural resources in sustainable and more effective way.
Such a wide variety results in the fact that the polyurethane systems are applicable as insulation materials of residential, industrial and agricultural buildings as well as public utility buildings. A modern polyurethane insulations in form of Crossin Insulations brand can be given here as an example.
Polyurethane means also a number of innovative solutions for the industry. It not only effectively insulates the manufacturing tanks but also sticks and seals any joints on the manufacturing lines. The PUR foams are also used in the manufacture of the elements for cars and other vehicles. Also steering wheels, shifters and dashboards are very often made of polyurethane. Polyurethane is also suitable as a material absorbing hits – under the mudguards or as acoustic insulation in headliners and the persons who value the comfort of the drive should remember that the car seats, on which they make hundreds of kilometres, there is also flexible polyurethane foam. Also polyurethane coatings are widely used in transport. In the sport and recreation industry, in particular integral polyurethane foam is applicable in the manufacture of bicycle saddles, handles, mattresses, not to mention the soles in sport shoes. In medicine, the polyurethane-based materials are used in the manufacture of operating tables or in the structures of wheelchairs while in the mining industry, polyurethanes are used as one of the most resilient binding agents. Polyurethane is also widely used in the furniture sector, for example in the manufacture of mattresses and upholstered furniture.
Everyone wants to feel safe and comfortable. Thanks to its universality, polyurethane allows us to combine those two aspects, offering new-generation tailor-made insulation materials. Very good thermal and acoustic insulation of polyurethane provides us with unique thermal comfort and protects against onerous noise. On the other hand, the aesthetics and reliability of workmanship of the polyurethane insulation itself guarantees long-term comfort and safety. Now, knowing that the polyurethane-based products are used by us in such a wide spectrum of application, a lot of us will never look at this polymer indifferently.
Anna Jarosik, Ph.D.