It’s one of the best things since sliced bread! We are summing up polyurethane product manufacturing, and all the versatile applications of this incredible invention.
Every day you will come into direct or indirect contact with polyurethane. It is in cars, household furniture, building structures, toys and many other places! Yet, the full scope of polyurethane product manufacturing is still being explored.
New ways to use this versatile polymer emerge all the time, especially as a skilled polyurethane moulding company can create any PU prototype swiftly and cost-effectively.
As it is such an exciting segment of manufacturing and engineering, Custom Moulded Polyurethane has put together this quick guide to what you need to know about Polyurethane product manufacturing.
Who invented Polyurethane?
The history of polyurethane is fascinating.
As often happens with a brilliant development, it started with one person innovating and experimenting. Professor Otto Bayer (1902-1982) is often referred to as the “father of polyurethane manufacturing” as he first discovered this chemical reaction.
However, the reason it was embraced so enthusiastically was that natural materials became scarce in World War II. Polyurethane product manufacturing was ramped up as it was a cheap and easier-to-produce alternative to rubber. Plus, polyurethane coatings were developed for a wide range of purposes, including gas resistant uniforms, airplane finishes and corrosion-resistant layers on wood, masonry and metal.
Post-war polyurethane product manufacturing bludgeoned, as more uses were discovered. By the 1950s this included flexible foams to create a cushioning effect.
How do they make different types of polyurethane?
One of the most common questions about polyurethane is, how can it be a soft foam, an adhesive and coating material, and a superb option to make parts as hard as metal?
Polyurethane is a polymer (from the Greek for many parts). Its structure is formed by a series of interlinked small chemical units or building blocks. This interlinking is created and modified by mixing together diols or polyols and diisocyanates or polyisocyanates. The chain reaction occurs, creating a structural bonding, that can be any tensile level you want – from soft to impenetrable.
It all comes down to the core ingredients, and any additives, catalysts, agents, pigments and fillers you include in the mix. For example, blowing agents can create foam, or plasticisers to make polyurethane more mouldable.
The common factor in any PU blend is that the resulting bonded whole is incredibly light, yet remarkably durable. So, foam returns to its shape even under intense pressure and hard PU is resistant to substantial abrasion and weight.
You may also see reference to two primary categories of PU as thermoplastic and thermosetting.
By varying the blend of materials used to form polyurethane, you can create a substance that can be heated and softened to reshape. Or, you can blend the ingredients to create a thermosetting structure that (once heated and cooled) retains its shape even when exposed to high temperatures and pressure.
What equipment is used to create polyurethane parts?
Though the finished result is non-toxic and stable, you need specialist processing equipment for polyurethane, to store, measure, heat, mix and mould the different components.
Custom Moulded Polyurethane rely on both advanced technology and long-established Polyurethane product manufacturing expertise to match detailed specs. Including CAD software to create the perfect mould and finishing touches, with all the required nuances or special features.
To craft polyurethane parts we use either injection moulding or open cast moulding equipment depending on the spec. The most common method for moulding polyurethane parts is by injecting it using high pressure, then clamping the mould to create a seamless bond when heated. (LINK to the previous article on moulding options)
Moulding expertise involves using different pressures and other adaptions to physically change the appearance and properties of polyurethane, following on from the chemical changes created by the mixing and heating processes mentioned above.
How can polyurethane be used?
This is a truly open-ended question!
The answer is that PU can be used in limitless applications. Vary the mix and the polyurethane product manufacturing method, and you can get a different result every time, according to exacting targets for form and function.
To find out if polyurethane product manufacturing could solve your prototyping issue, or create the perfect replacement part, get in touch. Chances are, you will be delighted with the response!