If you are in the manufacturing industry, you have most likely heard the words “urethane” and “polyurethane” before. But the thing is, most people use these two terms interchangeably. If you are confused about urethane vs. polyurethane, this post will help clear up any misunderstanding.

Urethane vs. Polyurethane: Is There Any Difference?

Actually, there is no real difference between these two. The term “polyurethane” simply means that this material is made up of multiple urethane monomers. 

Polyurethane is a simple polymer. It is a chemical compound formed by a scientific process known as polymerization. This combination of chemical compounds is composed of repeating structural units. These structural units (or “groups”) are urethane. 

The purpose of urethanes or polyurethanes is to produce parts that are used in countless industrial and commercial products and processes. To be more specific, polyurethanes are used to create extremely durable and long-lasting products that can adapt to a wide variety of situations, such as acute cold or heat, chemical exposure, and impingement.

Polyurethanes can withstand pretty much any environment, making them the first choice for many manufacturers around the world. For nearly any industry in the world, polyurethane is used quite commonly.

Many people have this misconception that urethane and polyurethane are different. However, there is no difference between the two products. Dedicated manufacturers and their marketing teams will educate their customers about the facts related to polyurethane in order to help them make informed choices.

It’s true that the overall chemical structure of urethane and polyurethane can vary sometimes depending on how they are used (e.g. for varnish, elastomers, padding, or something else). But they are all called urethanes. 

The term “polyurethane” only means that there are many urethane monomers linked together in a chain called a polymer (the end product). This is why it can be misleading to use this term because it essentially means nothing more than a chemical group which has a bunch of urethane monomers within it. 

The Final Verdict

The main difference – if you can call it that – between urethane and polyurethane is the number of urethane monomers linked together. Polyurethane is formed at a molecular level by combining a number of urethanes monomers together in a polymerization reaction to produce one of the many products, such as cast urethane elastomers (as seen in our parts).

These multiple layers of urethane actually make polyurethane much more durable and flexible than urethane itself, which essentially has no use until it is polymerized. If you’re looking to make solid, resilient, and long-lasting products, polyurethane can be an excellent material for you.

It can be used in products such as solid elastomers for industrial use, padding for car seats, home furnishing and upholstery, and much more. Polyurethane can be used to make gaskets, seals, bushings, pads, rollers, bumpers, etc, and also help create hard “plastics” which are more durable and resilient than synthetic rubber or regular plastic.

Still Have Questions? Feel Free to Ask Uniflex Inc.

At Uniflex Inc., we have been a leading supplier of custom molded urethane and polyurethane products in the country for over 40 years. If you want to reduce your manufacturing costs or upgrade your materials to a more durable option, we’ll be happy to talk! Call us at 248-486-6000 or complete this contact form. Our knowledgeable team will address your requirements in the best way possible.