Polyurethane Foam; a miracle of an invention explained

Updated: Apr 15, 2020



Summary


  • German Chemist by the name Otto Byer and his co-workers at the IG Farben labs in Germany who first made polyurethane or PU in 1937. The invention was soon found to be of many uses and was far superior form the existing hardened plastics of that time.

  • The first availability of the polyurethane foam commercially was in 1954. A special chemical by the name Poyisocyanates became commercially available and was used to produce flexible polyurethane foams

  • In 1956 Dupont created a new polymer called polyether polyols and started selling it in 1957. This chemical was a lot cheaper, thus reducing the overall cost of production. This chemical was much easier to handle and on top of that, this chemical is more resistant to water.

  • Memory foam mainly consists of polyurethane, PU with some additional chemicals increasing its viscoelasticity and density significantly than the other regular foam. Hence it's also called Viscoelastic foam

  • A memory foam mattress is usually denser than other foam mattresses, making it both more supportive and heavier. Memory foam mattresses are often sold for higher prices than traditional mattresses and the property of firmness (hard to soft) of memory foam is used in determining comfort.

  • Rebonded foams are made from a combination of multiple densities of foam which are broken down and re-bonded under mechanical pressure into new blocks of consistent High-Density Rebonded Material, which are then cut into desired lengths and widths.

  • The biggest user of this chemical Pu is used in the mattress industry, with this industry alone there are a lot of different varieties of the PU foam

  • Other uses consist of a variety of industries such as furnishing industry, construction industry, Boats, Including the likes of inflatable boats, surfboards, rigid-hulled boats, boat decks and outdoor marine surfaces and many more




Birth of the chemical: - It was German Chemist by the name Otto Byer and his co-workers at the IG Farben labs in Germany who first made polyurethane or PU in 1937. The invention was soon found to be of many uses and was far superior form the existing hardened plastics of that time. The invention has not yet been patented by any other company so IG Labs focused on the production of the early flexible PU foams that were initially used to coat aircraft during world war 2. During the initial years of 1937, the company focused on perfecting the polyurethane fibres and flexible foams.


From here on polyurethane will be described as PU.


History of the chemical: - The first availability of the polyurethane foam commercially was in the year 1954. A special chemical by the name Poyisocyanates became commercially available and was used to produce flexible polyurethane foams. The same chemical has been used to produce rigid foams, which in other terms means that they have a higher density and can withstand pressure and weight. Other materials such as gum rubber and elastomers used in tires etc were made.


In 1956 Dupont created a new polymer called polyether polyols and started selling it in 1957. This chemical was a lot cheaper, thus reducing the overall cost of production. This chemical was much easier to handle and on top of that, this chemical is more resistant to water. All the above factors made this chemical more popular among all the manufacturers. By the end of 1960 more than 45,000 metric tons of flexible PU, foams were produced, during this time the automotive industry took notice and started incorporating this technology into automobiles in places such as safety components, door panels for better soundproofing etc.