There are many myths and misconceptions about polyurethane. We explore some of the worst ones to show how safe and versatile this material is for a vast range of purposes and products.
Foams, adhesives, wheels, rollers, bushes, thermal insulating materials, soundproofing boards and super-strong supports and stops; the list of items that can be successfully formed from polyurethane is truly astounding. This versatile material features in every industrial sector you could think of, as well as being used for everyday applications such as car and furniture parts.
Yet, there are still some lingering misunderstandings about how polyurethane is made, how safe it is to use, and whether it’s low-cost means compromising on performance.
To set the record straight, we tackle five misconceptions about polyurethane.
1. Is polyurethane bad for the environment?
With such a global push to reduce dependence on plastics, one of the most widespread myths about polyurethane is that it has the same negative environmental impact. Yet, polyurethane is not the same as plastic!
It’s a type of elastomer, which means it’s a polymer with elastic properties (like rubber) but it has the capacity to be produced with the strength of the metal.
In fact, due to its unique chemical structure, polyurethane is an eco-friendly alternative to plastic. That’s because it can be recycled successfully, breaking down its polymers leaving nothing that harms the environment.
Interestingly, polyurethane is also energy efficient to produce, and in skilled hands can be moulded and finished with adherence to lean manufacturing principles. Plus, when used in construction, it has important thermal properties to reduce energy waste.
2. Is polyurethane toxic for humans?
This is another important misconception, as it could prevent you from exploring the many advantages of using polyurethane to create medical parts or components for children’s toys, for example.
It’s true that creating polyurethane is a skilled and complex process that requires careful handling of the chemical compounds used.
However, once it’s blended and formed, polyurethane is entirely stable. Which means it does not put toxic fumes into the atmosphere.
Keep in mind that it’s an incredibly durable and resilient substance too, so parts and components made from polyurethane won’t flake, shed or crumb – even under intense pressure and severe friction.
Polyurethane is also resistant to moulds, mildew and rot, making it a truly safe substance to use in house construction, as well as in products used in homes.
3. Can polyurethane parts create a fire hazard?
Following on from the myth that polyurethane is toxic comes the incorrect hypothesis that its chemical structure makes it a fire risk. This is another occasion when the opposite is actually true.
If it does come into contact with flames, polyurethane won’t spread them but tends to dampen them down.
Interestingly, the composition of polyurethane makes it a great insulator, offering energy efficiency advantages as it traps heat inside a building. It’s also resistant to abrasion and friction and stands up to high temperatures without an issue.
All of which disproves the view that polyurethane is dangerous!
4. Are polyurethane bushes too hard for a smooth, comfortable effect?
One of the most common uses of polyurethane is automotive and engineering parts. As it is so strong and hardworking, it’s easy to see why.
Yet, there’s a lingering misunderstanding this doesn’t include high-performance bushes. The mistaken assumption is that polyurethane is too hard to create a smooth motion or a comfortable driving experience.
This flies in the face of the infinite possibilities of producing polyurethane to different tensile specifications. As well as the potential to create bushes from polyurethane with 100% accuracy. Meaning all steering and suspension targets can be met effortlessly when you produce bushes in polyurethane.
5. Do polyurethane prototypes and parts come with a big price tag?
When you dig down on how polyurethane is made and the expertise invested in creating bespoke parts made from this versatile material, it’s easy to fall into a trap. Surely something this complex to produce as a durable customised part must carry a hefty price tag?
These are enduring misconceptions about polyurethane we are particularly keen to dispel. Thanks to our experience, expertise and investment in the latest equipment, Custom Moulded Polyurethane offers highly cost-effective precision engineering services.
You may well find that your polyurethane prototype – or a bulk order of PE parts – costs less than if you opted for alternative substances.
Test that for yourself, by getting in touch for a polyurethane part quote.