Polyurethane Foam Covers a Vast Range of Industry Applications

Polyurethane Foam

Polyurethane Foam Covers a Vast Range of Industry Applications

Polyurethane Foam covers a vast range of industry applications. Its underlying properties revolve around density and load-bearing capacity.

These characteristics are regulated through formulation manipulation and component choice. Gantrade offers a full line of these components to aid in the successful manufacture of flexible and rigid foam products.

The main components Polyurethane Foam of flexible polyurethane foam include polyols, diisocyanates, blowing agents, surfactants and catalysts. These react to create the polyurethane foam’s cellular structure.


Polyurethane Foam is a versatile material that can be molded into almost any shape for a wide range of applications. It’s a leading member of the broad family of plastics or polymers. Manufacturers make PU foam by reacting diisocyanates (such as MDI and TDI) with a variety of polyols to create flexible or rigid foam. A series of additives such as catalysts, blowing agents and flame retardants are also included in the chemical formulations used for PU foam production.

The cellular structure of PU foam makes it comfortable to sleep on. Unlike memory foam, which sinks in or out with every movement, PU foam offers pinpointed support that doesn’t change as you move through the night. This allows you to sleep in any position without feeling uncomfortable or shifting your weight around.

Rigid PU foam is commonly used in insulation for home and commercial buildings to reduce heating and cooling costs and carbon emissions. It also adds strength and durability to furniture.

Despite its benefits, PU foam is made from many chemicals including methyloxirane and toluene diisocyanate (TDI). These are both known to be carcinogenic, but methyloxirane is more likely to cause mammary tumors in rats and TDI is more likely to damage the liver and kidneys of infants. If you are concerned about these chemicals, look for independently certified low-VOC foam such as CertiPUR-US®.


Polyurethane foam is extremely durable and able to withstand significant amounts of stress. It is a porous, cellular-structured, synthetic material that results from the reaction of a variety of components: polyols, diisocyanates and chemical blowing agents (water). In the manufacturing process, heat is generated during the polymerization and gas generation stages. Keeping this temperature in control is critical to prevent overheating. The isocyanate index, water level, the use of physical blowing agents and catalyst concentration are all important factors in this control.

Rigid foams are commonly used as insulation materials to reduce energy costs and carbon emissions by making buildings more efficient. They can be inserted between the walls of new construction and can be attached to existing walls, sealing holes used for electrical cables, plumbing pipes or air ducts. Rigid PU foams also prevent pest infestation and are more effective than other insulation materials that can allow rodents to nest inside.

Flexible polyurethane foams are measured for their durability properties including tensile strength, tear resistance and elongation at break. The ability of foam to resist tearing and shredding is especially important in applications where it may be handled frequently, such as in upholstering. Air permeability is another key factor in the durability of flexible foams, as it determines how well the foam seals and insulates. Several tests can be performed to measure the resilience of flexible foams, including IFD and CLD.


Polyurethane Foam is highly efficient as an insulation material, providing superior strength, durability and versatility. It is odorless, does not attract vermin and resists moisture, mildew and corrosion. It is also lightweight, allowing it to be installed quickly and easily using common tools.

In buildings, the use of Polyurethane Foam contributes significantly to energy efficiency, saving money for home owners and businesses. Its insulation properties are also beneficial in reducing sound and noise levels within a structure.

Rigid Polyurethane Foam can be sprayed directly onto a solid surface, requiring minimal moulding or fabrication. This process is very useful in ship and fishing vessel construction, enabling access to hard-to-reach areas. This type of spraying can be carried out either by hand or with specialized machines that mix and atomize the foam while it is being applied, thus reducing the need for moulds.

Polyurethanes are made when diisocyanates (methylenediphenyl diisocyanate [MDI] and toluene diisocyanate [TDI) react with a variety of polyols. These chemicals have been characterized as probable carcinogens and are known to cause respiratory problems in humans. As a result, many rigid PU foams incorporate fire retardant additives. These FRs are typically persistent and bioaccumulative, and they may be toxic to aquatic life. The addition of these additives also increases the cost of the product. Hence, there is increasing interest in constructing rigid PU foam products from renewable raw materials.


Polyurethane Foam has a fine cellular structure that is comprised of billions of gas bubbles less than 50 microns in size. This fine cellular structure is what gives it exceptional physical properties such as load-bearing, resilience, tensile strength, tear resistance, and elongation at break.

As a spray foam, it is made with a combination of two chemicals; Toluene diisocyanate (TDI) and methylene diphenyl diisocyanate. The TDI and MDI are combined with polyols to initiate a Polyurethane Foam chemical reaction to create the foam. Despite its many benefits, polyurethane foam has several health and safety concerns that require caution and proper handling.

Its flammability is one of the main safety issues that can cause serious problems. Its low density and high surface-to-volume ratio makes it highly combustible, especially when exposed to a flame or intense heat source. Therefore, it’s crucial that all manufacturers use appropriate handling and ventilation practices to prevent plant fires in the foaming or conversion stages.

The other significant hazard is its toxicity during manufacturing. Using a solvent such as methyloxirane or propylene oxide to trigger the isocyanate reaction can result in fumes and vapors that are harmful to workers. This is why all specialized spray foam manufacturers provide their licensed operators with proper handling and safety equipment, as well as plant infrastructure that includes built-in exhaust ventilation and TDI scrappers for ideal industrial hygiene.