Polyurethane is a versatile material that appears in a large amount of everyday household items and machinery. It has several advantages over other synthetic materials. It is so flexible that it is often used in products that are designed for human comfort and relaxation. At the same time, it is so durable that it can be used in tires for heavy machinery. It is also a “green” material, as it often helps cut emissions through its insulating potential.
1. Furniture, bedding, and seating
Polyurethaneis often molded into foam that can serve for a variety of uses for human comfort. This foam can differ in terms of density, firmness, durability, and quality. A higher density and quality equates to a higher price (often sold by the quarter inch, by sheet). Softer, temporary material is often used for short-term uses, such as baby mattresses, whereas the top-of-the-line tough luxurious foam is usually reserved for bay window cushions. Standard fabric car seats tend to use polyurethane, as it is both comfortable and durable.
2. Thermal Insulation
Low-density rigid polyurethane has a range of uses—one of the most useful is its thermal insulation application. During the construction of a building, insulating the walls with low-density rigid polyurethane can dramatically reduce heating and cooling bills by keeping the heat out during the summer, and in during the winter. This, in turn, cuts carbon emissions and helps decrease the negative impact of expending energy on the environment. Additionally, polyurethane tends to have a long-life span (well over five decades) and requires absolutely no maintenance. This makes it a choice material for anyone building a new home.
Polyurethane can be used in the form of elastomers. Elastomers can be found in a number of products, from gaskets to paint rollers to gel pads. Elastomers are defined by two properties, resiliency and elasticity. In the form of gel pads, for example, the material is able to contort to the shape and weight of the body put on it, while still maintaining a strong composition. Then, once the body has been lifted from it, the gel pad is able to return to its original shape. In this way, it is likewise flexible and capable of withstanding weight, giving it this unique functionality.
Footwear, especially athletic footwear, is dependent on the special properties of polyurethane in order to provide a supportive and comfortable base. Often found in the midsole, its elastic properties allow for it to be bent and stretched through the foot’s natural motion. It ensures the test of time, returning to its original form after daily use. They will not melt if put into the wash, due to high heat resistance. In addition, they naturally protect against foot odor.
Polyurethane straps have a variety of uses. Given the general elasticity and strength of polyurethane, it makes it the ideal material for things like watch straps, where the wearer is looking for both comfort and flexibility. The potential strength of polyurethane is evident in bungee cords, where a very thin, very long cord is capable of bearing the burden of very large weights.
Polyurethane coatings allow a protective, ultra-thin coating over different materials, which allows for a longer lifespan and an improved look. When laying down a wooden floor, polyurethane allows the wood to maintain its look while still protecting against the elements (especially water-rot). On a car, the polyurethane gives a protective varnish that helps defend the body from scratches, dents, and general weather damage. The great advantage of polyurethane coating is that one treatment lasts an immense amount of time.