Any item that is made from urethane can be classified as a urethane product. Urethane, also referred to as polyurethane, is an elastomer, meaning that it can possess elastic properties. There are two main types of polyurethane: polyester and polyether.
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Advantages of Urethane
Urethane is an immensely popular material due to how many beneficial dynamic and mechanical properties it has. First, polyurethane is a hard and durable material. It has a naturally high resistance to abrasion, cutting, and tearing, making it an ideal and popular material for applications that involve exposure to wear and tear. The tear strength of polyurethane material is determined by factors such as its tensile strength or the measurement of the force required to pull something to its breaking point. Urethane products possess a superior impact strength and a high load bearing capacity. When compressed, polyurethane outperforms other elastomers in terms of how much compressive force it can withstand. The load bearing capacity can be determined by three main factors: hardness, loaded surface condition, and the shape factor. A material’s hardness is formally defined as its level of resistance to an indentation under a particular load. A material’s hardness is measured by a tool known as a durometer. Load surface condition is determined as how the part is affected when compressed with either lubricated or dry surfaces. Finally, the shape factor mathematically defines the part’s shape. When a polyurethane part is compressed, its volume doesn’t change. Therefore, when compressed, the height of the part decreases, forcing the part’s sides to expand, or bulge outward, in order to retain the shape’s volume. Two parts that are made of the same material and have the same shape factor will react similarly to compression, regardless of how much the two parts differ in size. There is a wide spectrum of hardness in which urethane can be fabricated. It can be formed to be anywhere from extremely hard to having the malleability of jelly.
Urethane Product Manufacturing Process
At the beginning of the manufacturing process, the raw polyurethane material is in sheet form and later undergoes a variety of molding and forming processes to achieve the desired shape. The method in which the urethane product is manufactured greatly depends on the application for which the product is desired, and the overall role the product will play in the application. The manufacturing process generally involves mixing the raw material using dispensing equipment and pouring it into a mold where the material takes the final shape. Molded urethane can be altered while in its molten state by adding additional chemicals prior to pouring it into the mold. These chemicals can either improve the material's performance or alter its color and texture for aesthetic purposes. A popular form of molded urethane is memory foam, which is used to produce a wide range of comfort-driven products such as pillows, mattresses, or cushions. After a given amount of weight is removed from its surface, it is capable of returning to its original shape. Molded urethane does have its downsides, however. Unlike thermoplastics, which can be melted and reformed an unlimited amount of times, molded urethane is a thermoset, which means that it can only be melted and shaped once. An additional manufacturing process is known as tooling, which involves shaping and molding the material into a certain form using a variety of methods.
Applications of Urethane Products
Polyester is resistant to abrasion and certain chemicals and is more resistant to tear than polyether, making it ideal for food-grade applications. Polyether is highly resistant to heat and retains its elasticity and flexibility even in low temperatures. Polyurethane can be used to make a wide variety of products, such as mechanical components, gears, chute liners, wiper blades, seals, belts, wheels, metal forming dies, rollers, bumpers, and strippers. Many industries utilize polyurethane to some degree. Some of these industries include off-highway machinery, automovie, agriculture, mining, defense, sports and recreation, and prototyping.
Things to Consider When Purchasing Urethane Products
Urethane is one of the most versatile manufacturing materials available in the world today. In fact, more than 12 million metric tons are consumed globally. Polyurethane can be the perfect choice for a manufacturer, regardless of the application. However, all types of polyurethane materials are combustible and thus susceptible to fire, so it would not be suitable for applications that involve exposure to fire or extreme heat. Since polyurethane can be formed in such a wide variety of ways, you must consult a polyurethane product manufacturer to assess what properties are appropriate for your particular application and thus obtain the most suitable product possible.