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Introduction to Polyurethanes


Polyurethanes are one of the most versatile plastic materials. The nature of the chemistry allows polyurethanes to be adapted to solve challenging problems, to be molded into unusual shapes and to enhance industrial and consumer products by adding comfort, warmth and convenience to our lives.

Polyurethanes are formed by reacting a polyol (an alcohol with more than two reactive hydroxyl groups per molecule) with a diisocyanate or a polymeric isocyanate in the presence of suitable catalysts and additives. Because a variety of diisocyanates and a wide range of polyols can be used to produce polyurethane, a broad spectrum of materials can be produced to meet the needs of specific applications.

It does not matter where you look, you are likely to find polyurethanes. Polyurethanes can be a found in mattresses, couches, insulation, liquid coatings and paints, tough elastomers such as roller blade wheels, soft flexible foam toys, some elastic fibers, and many other places and applications.  
 
History of Polyurethanes

Learn more about the history of the development of polyurethanes.

Polyurethane Applications

Explore the many uses of polyurethanes, which range from flexible foam in upholstered furniture, to rigid foam as insulation in walls and roofs, to thermoplastic polyurethane used in medical devices and footwear, to coatings, adhesives, sealants and elastomers used on floors and automotive interiors.

How Polyurethane Is Made

Learn how polyurethanes are made and discover the myriad products and services that polyurethane chemistry provides.

Plastics: The Basics of Polymer Chemistry

Explore the nature of plastics and polymers. Natural polymers include such things as tar and shellac, tortoise shell and horns, as well as tree saps that produce amber and latex.

Industry Information

CPI commissioned an analysis titled The Economic Benefits of Polyurethanes 2013, which summarizes the importance of the polyurethanes industry to the U.S. economy.

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