Over the past several decades, Urethane has swiftly become the material of choice for so many of today’s performance-driven applications, and with good reason. Urethane offers unmatched mechanical and physical properties, excelling where other materials fail. The simple truth is, urethane can be formulated to be lighter, stronger, faster, quieter, and cheaper than most alternative materials. Urethane’s biggest strength is arguably the potential for so many unique formulations which make it more resistant to abrasion, cutting, and tearing, or more flexible. Of all the important traits and benefits of different urethane formulations, some features hold more value in industrial applications, solidifying urethane’s importance in our country’s infrastructure.
Of all urethane properties, ozone resistance is one of the most important for long-term applications. In tests of ozone levels in excess of 1,000 PPM, Polyurethane received an A score, meaning that it is excellent at resisting the potential effects of ozone. To put this figure in perspective, natural rubber received a score of D, meaning that it would be severely affected, while metals like copper, bronze, and brass received scores of B, making them significantly less effective at resisting high ozone levels than urethane material. Since ozone is a powerful oxidant, it has the potential to damage materials after prolonged exposure, causing visible cracking in softer materials like rubber, and gradual oxidation and degradation of harder materials like metals. Millable polyurethane’s ability to withstand ozone “attacks” makes it an ideal material for components which will be exposed directly to outside air and elements. This characteristic makes urethane a common choice for “weather-proof” coatings, seals, gaskets and bushings used in automotive and aerospace applications.
A material’s ability to resist chemical corrosion dictates its potential efficacy in manufacturing applications where chemical exposure is inevitable. The many available formulations of urethane allow the material to become a simple component which is chemical resistant, or to coat a tank or part, making it just as resistant to corrosion caused by chemicals. A common application which relies on this trait is a slush pump used in petroleum engineering. This pump is used to circulate drilling fluid, requiring a high level of chemical resistance to prevent corrosion. The propeller of the slush pump is coated in polyurethane, protecting the metal structure inside, and in turn extending the life of the pump and minimizing the need for repair or replacement.
Mold, Mildew and Fungus Resistance
If you’ve ever helped renovate a bathroom, you’ve undoubtedly come in contact with one of the most popular household urethane applications. Since urethane presents impressive resistance to mold, mildew, and fungus, a foam liquid formulation known as caulk is an ideal material for filling spaces between surfaces. In wet environments like bathrooms and swimming pools, caulking is a necessary practice for sealing walls, titles, and various seams, preventing the growth of mildew, mold and fungus between cracks. The proper use of polyurethane caulk in bathrooms is largely responsible for ease of cleaning, without which bathrooms and swimming pools would be excessively moldy, unsafe environments.
Because of the innumerable formulations of urethane, its potential applications are endless. This ability to be used effectively in so many different ways is an impressive trait which has set urethane apart from alternative materials. For abrasion, urethane outwears plastics and metals, pairing perfectly with its superior load bearing capacity, making it ideal for wheels, machine mounts, and numerous other important mechanical components. Excellent electrical insulating ability makes polyurethane coatings ideal for molded wire and cable harnesses used in electrical assemblies for everything from toys to high voltage enclosures. Properties like noise abatement and oil resistance mean that the life of modern vehicles is greatly extended by polyurethane components and coatings. No matter what the application, each unique formulation offers incredible abilities which continue to lend themselves to applications in every industry.
While we’ve outlined many of the most impressive urethane properties, there are so many more! Specific formulations may be the missing piece in your innovative application. If you’re ready to begin discussing how urethane could work for your needs, contact Mearthane and speak with one of our experts today!