Polyurethane (PU) is a type of plastic. However, it is important to emphasise that polyurethane is a family of polymers rather than a single specific material. Polyurethanes can have a wide range of properties and applications, depending on the formulations and production techniques used.
Polyurethanes are considered thermoplastic polymers, which means that they can be melted and reshaped repeatedly through heating and cooling processes. This differentiates polyurethanes from other types of plastic, such as thermosetting polymers that cannot be melted once they have solidified.
The chemical structure of polyurethane is based on the formation of urethane bonds between an isocyanate and a polyol. This chemical reaction creates a polymer chain, giving polyurethane its specific characteristics. Polyurethanes can be made in various forms, including elastomers, foams and rigid materials, depending on the proportions and chemical reactions used in their synthesis.
The plasticity of polyurethane, along with its other desirable properties, such as mechanical strength, flexibility, elasticity and wear resistance, has contributed to its widespread application in a wide range of industries.
Polyurethanes are used in automobiles, footwear, furniture, insulation, adhesives, foams, coatings and many other products.