Uses & Benefits
Without polyurethane, many products that consumers use every day would be less comfortable, less efficient and not perform as well. Because of its versatility, polyurethane adds value and provides solutions for many products and application types.
Polyurethane in Apparel
Polyurethanes are combined with nylon to make garments more lightweight and stretchable. Polyurethane is the primary component of spandex, and is used in faux leathers, sports clothes and other accessories, as well as adhesives in shoes.
Polyurethane in Appliances
Polyurethane rigid foams are widely used as insulation in refrigerators and freezers, in both residential and commercial food storage and transportation, where they help these appliances achieve energy savings and performance requirements.
Polyurethane in Automotive
Polyurethanes are used extensively in cars to help reduce weight, increase fuel economy while providing comfort and safety, and provide excellent resistance to chemicals and weathering. An average, mid-size vehicle in the United States uses about 60 pounds of polyurethane material. In addition to the foam that makes car seats comfortable, bumpers, interior “headliner” ceiling sections and the car body, spoilers, doors and dashboards all use polyurethanes.
Polyurethane in Building and Construction
Today’s buildings demand high-performance materials that are strong, yet lightweight; perform well, yet are easily installed; and are durable, but also versatile. With its excellent strength-to-weight ratio, resistance to heat transfer, durability and versatility, polyurethane makes several types of highly efficient insulation materials, sealants and adhesives for homes and buildings.
Polyurethane in Composite Wood
Polyurethane-based binders are used in composite wood products to permanently glue organic materials into oriented strand board, medium-density fiberboard, long-strand lumber, laminated-veneer lumber and even strawboard and particleboard.
Polyurethane in Electronics
Polyurethanes are frequently used in the electrical and electronics industries to protect fragile, pressure-sensitive, microelectronic components, underwater cables and printed circuit boards.
Polyurethane in Flooring
Whether as a foam carpet underlay, a surface coating, or a flooring adhesive, polyurethanes can make floors more durable, longer lasting, easier to maintain and more aesthetically pleasing. Flexible polyurethane foam as a carpet underlay can significantly increase the lifespan of the carpet, protect its appearance, provide added comfort and support and reduce ambient noise. Polyurethanes are also used as protective coatings on floors, making them easy to clean and maintain.
Polyurethane in Furnishings
Polyurethane, mostly in the form of flexible foam, is one of the most popular materials used in furniture, bedding and carpet underlay. As a cushioning material for upholstered furniture, flexible polyurethane foam makes furniture more durable, comfortable and supportive.
Polyurethane in Marine
Boaters today can have the comforts of home on the water, thanks in part to flexible polyurethane foam. Polyurethane epoxy resins seal boat hulls from water, weather, corrosion and elements that increase drag, affect hydrodynamics and reduce durability. In addition, rigid polyurethane foam insulates boats from noise and temperature extremes, provides abrasion and tear resistance, and increases load-bearing capacity, all while adding minimal weight. Thermoplastic polyurethane is also great for use in the maritime industry. It is an elastic, durable and easily processed substance, well suited for wire and cable coatings, engine tubing, drive belts, hydraulic hoses and seals and even ship molding.
Polyurethane in Packaging
Polyurethane packaging foam can provide more cost-effective, form-fitting cushioning to protect items that need to stay safely in place during transit, such as electronic and medical diagnostic equipment, delicate glassware and large industrial parts. It also can be used as an adhesive in certain flexible packaging applications.