What is polyurethane foam?
Polyurethane is a leading member of the wide-ranging and highly diverse family of polymers or plastics. Polyurethane can be a solid or can have an open cellular structure, in which case it is called foam… and foams can be flexible or rigid.
As simple explanation, manufacturers make polyurethane foam by reacting polyols and diisocyanates, both products derived from crude oil. A series of additives are necessary to produce high-quality PU foam products, depending on the application the foam will be used for.
Polyurethane foam is overwhelmingly used for the padding of car seats because of the freedom of geometric design it offers. And also because it can be adapted, via the formulation used or via the production process, to reach the level of comfort targeted for the car seat.
Polyurethanes are used for many different purposes in a car because:
- They are lightweight. Over time the density of polyurethanes has been reduced by 30 to 40% while still maintaining the same mechanical properties. Seating foam for instance has one of the lowers densities of any plastic used in a car: 0.03 to 0.05 g/cm3. Polyurethane foam used in headliners is another good example with a density of 0.02 to 0.04 g/cm3.
- The help reducing noise for passengers: The excellent sound-absorbing and vibration dampening qualities of polyurethanes contribute to high comfort and safety levels.
- They are durable: Polyurethane is not prone to corrosion, throughout their life they ensure stability even under severe conditions.
- They are versatile and offer freedom of design: Car seats have widely evolved over time together with knowledge of ergonomics. And they keep doing so, because polyurethanes offer a wide choice of performance and processing characteristics, allowing applications t be tailored for advanced shapes and forms using the same basic chemicals.
- They can be recycled through a range of approved technologies and offer the potential for monomaterial solutions, which facilitate dismantling and recycling.