Polyurethanes can provide many benefits and are found in various applications on boats and the maritime industry.
Polyurethane Coatings, Adhesives, Sealants, Elastomers (CASE)
Polyurethane epoxy resins seal boat hulls from water, weather, corrosion and elements that increase drag, affect hydrodynamics and reduce durability. These sealants are not just for sloops, catamarans and speedboats, but can be equally effective when applied to canoes, kayaks, skiffs and rowboats.
Polyurethane’s usefulness extends beyond boats, however. Below the surface, polyurethane fortifies diving equipment for seafloor explorers, while epoxy paints can improve the non-skid surface of diving boards and stands at your local swimming pool.
Flexible Polyurethane Foam
Boaters today can have the comforts of home inside nearly any seaworthy vessel, thanks in part to flexible polyurethane foam (FPF). It makes seat cushions and carpet pads firm but soft, and keeps bedding materials supportive and comfortable—and it can be molded to fit into those small, curved and hard-to-furnish places found on boats.
FPF suppliers work closely with boat builders and other manufacturers to find the best combination of foam density, softness, affordability and resiliency to meet the needs of the high seas—or the poolside chaise-lounge—so that water-sports enthusiasts everywhere can be comfortable. Great for customized applications, FPF can even be made visco-elastic and temperature-sensitive to continuously mold and adjust to a person’s shape, relieving stress, minimizing pressure points and providing tremendous support.
Rigid Polyurethane Foam
Rigid polyurethane foam provides boats with insulation from noise and temperature extremes, abrasion and tear resistance, plus load-bearing capacity—and with remarkably little weight. On smaller boats, reducing the noise produced by engines and other gear is a major concern, and rigid polyurethane foam can provide a means of absorbing such sounds. This is because rigid polyurethane foam can be supplemented with resins that change the kinetic energy of sound waves into heat energy, which dissipates into the foam itself.
Not only does rigid polyurethane foam resist water absorption, it can combine the elasticity of rubber with the toughness and durability of metal. These properties, plus its diverse range of hardness, have enabled engineers to design parts with a plastic material ideal for boat construction. Parts in which polyurethanes have replaced traditional materials now include sleeve bearings, wear plates, sprockets and rollers.
Rigid polyurethane foam works on shore as well, in the form of two-part pourable urethane that can fill voids in dock pontoons and barrels. In its closed-cell, high-density format, rigid polyurethane foam is also an excellent material for clear, lightweight, durable indoor and outdoor signs and billboards. The foam’s water and solvent resistance makes it virtually impervious to temperature extremes, rain, snow, ice or frequent sprinkler watering, and the material does not warp after exposure to the elements.
Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU)
Another polyurethane material great for use in the maritime industry is thermoplastic polyurethane, or TPU. It is an elastic, durable and easily processable substance, well suited for wire and cable coatings, engine tubing, drive belts, hydraulic hoses and seals, and even ship molding. Because it can be painted, colored and welded, TPU helps meet design requirements without unnecessarily inflating costs. And, like other polyurethanes, TPU’s uses extend beyond the boat, in the form of swim fins, goggles and—should the need arise—even inflatable rafts!