Polyurethanes – currently one of the most popular plastics on the market, are widely used in the form of polyurethane foams (PUR). Probably not everyone realises that they have become almost an indispensable material of the modern world. They surround us everywhere. Polyurethane accompany us during sleep, bath, work, in the car, at the gym, in the shop and at home. Therefore, the growing interest in the polyurethane foams and their components is not surprising.
Composition of polyurethane foam
The composition of the polyurethane foam depends on the desired properties and the intended use of the final product. However, it is always obtained from two reagents. The first of these are isocyanates – more precisely isomeric mixtures of toluene diisocyanate (TDI) or methyl diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI). The second component of the polyurethane foam are hydroxyl-terminated oligomers – polyesters or polyethers, called polyols.
The process of polyurethane foam formation is based on the addition polymerization reaction of two components – isocyanates with polyols, most often accompanied by an amine catalyst and water. The carbon dioxide that is released in the process is a foaming agent.
It is worth remembering that you should buy components for polyurethane foam only from proven sources, and preferably from companies specializing in their production. Only high-quality reagents included in the polyurethane foam will guarantee the desired features of the finished product.
Application of polyurethane foam
Polyurethane foams are divided into rigid, flexible and semi-rigid foams (spray foam). The multitude of their advantages causes that interest in these products is constantly growing and for this reason they are readily used both in industry and in everyday life.
In the construction industry, polyurethane materials are used because of their unique insulating properties. They are safe for health and easy to assemble. In addition, they are resistant to mould and fungi. Thanks to these features, a house insulated with polyurethane insulation is warm and safe. The automotive, furniture and upholstery industries use flexible polyurethane foams for the production of armchairs, sofas, mattresses and beds. The foam ensures softness and comfort for the user. In addition, it is durable and resistant to aging, so your favourite chair can stay with you for as long as you like. The textile and clothing industries also use polyurethane foams in the manufacture of leather-like materials and shoe soles. In this application, polyurethanes guarantee abrasion resistance, flexibility and durability. Due to their chemical inertness and non-toxicity, polyurethane foams are used in the medical industry. In addition, they are used by the aerospace and mining industries as well as manufacturers of packaging and toys for children.
The future of polyurethane foam
These materials can be found almost everywhere. The reasons for this are not only the exceptional functional properties of the foams, but also the surprising ease of modification of these materials. Thanks to this advantage and the use of various additives, the foam can become non-flammable, it can remember its previous shape or even resemble human skin.
Polyurethanes are often called products of the future. Due to the varied composition of polyurethane foam providing the desired properties, it can replace basic materials such as wood, rubber, metal or ceramics. One material instead of four? Or maybe instead of even more raw materials? Now it is becoming more and more real. Research on polyurethane foams enables obtaining specialist materials dedicated to specific industries. The tests make it possible to refine the formulas and check the effect of additives on the physicochemical properties of finished foams. In addition, the industry is currently moving towards faster, cheaper and more environmentally friendly manufacturing processes that will meet the market’s needs for this material.
Check where to buy components for polyurethane foam: https://www.products.pcc.eu/en/k/polyurethanes/