Polyurethane is an extremely versatile material that is effective in a wide variety of applications. Polyurethane is unique because of its high elasticity but also its high resistance to damage and spills. Polyurethane can be formed into a number of products, including solids and liquids. One form of polyurethane is used in many paint products of varying uses -- one company, MinWax, refers to their line of polyurethane-containing paint products by the brand name Polycrylic.
Polyurethane is a rubber-like material made up of polymers and offers significantly increased durability and toughness. Urethane, an essential component to the material, is available in a wide range of hardness levels, which allows for polyurethane products to take the place of an equally wide range of objects with less abrasion resistance.
Because of the unique strengths of polyurethane, this material has been used to replace sleeve bearings, wear plates, sprockets and rollers in many settings. The material is also ultra-resistant to oils, solvents and fats as well as grease and gasoline. Polyurethane is also extremely resistant to weathering and is an effective electrical insulator.
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Another common use for polyurethane is in the creation of foam materials -- polyurethane’s flexibility and wear resistance are particularly effective in furniture applications. Polyurethanes are also used to create fibers, both normal fabrics and adhesives. Spandex is a particularly unique polyurethane, with both a urea and urethane chemical makeup, though polyurethane is often used in paint applications.
Many paint brands create multiple products with polyurethane ingredients. In paints and finishes made by the Minwax company, they refer to their polyurethane line as Polycrylic. Polyurethane in paints can create a long-lasting and wear-resistant finish, even in wood stains. One Polycrylic product, Polycrylic Protective Finish, dries clear and is therefore able to act as a top coat in virtually any painting application.