When it comes to industrial plastics, there are two main types: thermoplastic polymers and thermoset polymers. Thermoplastics can be melted down and reused, while thermoset plastics cannot. Thermoset plastics are more durable than thermoplastics but are also more expensive. So, which material is used in the mining industry?

What is Thermoplastic?

Thermoplastic is a type of plastic that becomes soft and pliable when heated and hardens when cooled. Unlike thermosetting plastics, which cannot be softened once they have been set, thermoplastics can be melted and reformed multiple times.

Thermoplastics are used in a wide range of applications, from food packaging to medical devices. The most common thermoplastics include polypropylene, polyethylene, and polystyrene.

Thermoplastics are produced by polymerizing small molecules into long chains. These chains can be linear or branched, depending on the specific application. When heated, the chains break apart and flow freely, allowing the thermoplastic to be molded into different shapes.

Once cooled, the chains reform, and the thermoplastic hardens. This process can be repeated an unlimited number of times, making thermoplastics an extremely versatile material.

In the mining industry, thermoplastics are used for a variety of purposes, including:

  • Pipelining
  • Cable insulation
  • Hose reinforcement

What is Thermoset?

Thermoset is a type of plastic that becomes permanently hard when heated. Unlike thermoplastic, which can be melted and reformed multiple times, thermosets cannot be remolded or recycled. Common examples of thermoset materials include Bakelite, epoxy, and vulcanized rubber.

These materials are often used in applications where high heat resistance and durability are required, such as in electrical insulation or automotive brake pads.

Thermoset is able to mold into complex shapes just like a thermoplastic. However, it is usually open cast, low pressure injection molded, or compression molded rather than injection molded or extruded. Thermoset is also generally more expensive than thermoplastic. This is because the manufacturing process is more complex, and the raw materials are often more costly. This being said, thermoset polymers are often much more durable than thermoplastics and are extensively used in high wear environments wear longevity is essential.

In the mining industry, thermosetting plastics are used for:

  • Molding electrical components
  • Sheet material for liners
  • Aggregate screens
  • Roller coatings
  • Making gaskets and seals
  • Creating wear-resistant coatings

What’s the Difference?

Comparing thermoplastic and thermoset is a common occurrence because they are both used in a variety of applications. Here are the key differences between these two materials:

  • Thermoplastic can be melted and reformed, while thermosets cannot. This is because thermoset undergoes a chemical reaction when heated, which permanently changes the material. The curing process involves chemical bonding of the material properties to form permanent chemical bonds.
  • Thermoplastic is less durable than thermoset. Thermoplastics, such as food packaging, are often used in applications not subject to high temperatures or stress. Thermoset plastics are better suited for high-heat and high-stress applications, such as automotive brake pads. The material properties can withstand these and more because thermosetting materials undergo an extensive curing process.
  • Thermoplastic is generally less expensive than thermoset. This is because thermoplastic manufacturing is more straightforward, and thermoplastic materials are often cheaper. Thermoset plastics are more complex to produce and require more costly raw materials.
  • Thermoplastics are more manageable to mold into complex shapes than thermosets. Thermoplastics can be melted and reformed multiple times, making them more flexible during molding. Thermoplastic polymers are more flexible and versatile because processing thermoplastics involves guaranteeing thermal stability.
  • Thermoset plastics are more versatile and long lasting but often require chemical processing equipment to guarantee the chemical ratio integrity of thermoset plastic mixes.

What Type of Urethane Parts Are Used in the Mining Industry?

Urethane has many benefits that make it ideal for use in the mining industry. It is wear-resistant, impact-resistant, and can withstand high temperatures. As a result, urethane parts are often used in mining equipment, such as conveyor belt rollers, screen decking, and chute lining.

In addition, urethane can be molded into custom shapes and sizes, making it perfect for creating bespoke parts for specific applications. Thanks to its versatility and durability, urethane is an essential material for the mining industry. It can maintain good structural integrity and minimal chemical resistance.

The urethane parts that are used in the mining industry include:

Conveyor Belt Rollers

Conveyor belt rollers are used to move heavy loads along a conveyor belt. They are typically made from steel or urethane and are designed to withstand high temperatures and wear caused by friction.

Urethane is often used for conveyor belt rollers because it is impact-resistant and can withstand the high temperatures generated by friction. It is also less likely to damage the conveyor belt than steel rollers.

Screen Decking

Screen decking is used to separate materials by size. It is typically made from wood or urethane and comprises a series of screen panels attached to a frame.

Urethane screen decking is often used in the mining industry because it is wear-resistant and can withstand the high impact of falling rocks. It is also resistant to the corrosive effects of chemicals and moisture.

Chute Lining

Chute lining is used to protect surfaces from abrasion. It is typically made from rubber or urethane and is installed on the walls of chutes, conveyors, and other high-wear surfaces.

Urethane chute lining is often used in the mining industry because it is wear-resistant and can withstand the high impact of falling rocks. It is also resistant to the corrosive effects of chemicals and moisture.

Urethane parts are essential for the smooth running of the mining industry. Therefore, if you’re looking for mining equipment, check that the parts are made from urethane. Thanks to its durability and versatility, urethane is the perfect material for use in the mining industry.

Why We Use Thermoset Polymers in the Mining Industry

Thermoset polymers are a type of plastic widely used in the mining industry. These materials are prized for their excellent physical properties, high strength, durability, and resistance to heat and chemicals. In addition, thermoset polymers are often easier to recycle than other plastics.

As a result, they have become the material of choice for many mining applications. Some common products made from thermoset polymers include conveyor belts, pipes, and pump housings.

In each of these applications, thermoset polymers’ superior strength and resistance help ensure long service life. Thermoset polymers have become an essential part of the modern mining industry thanks to these benefits.

How to Purchase!

When purchasing urethane products, it’s important to remember that these are custom parts for the most part. That means that the only things you can buy online are urethane stock items like a sheet, rod, tube, or bar. For everything else, you’ll need to contact a urethane manufacturer or supplier directly.

When doing so, have your specifications in hand so they can provide you with a quote. Once you’ve received a quote, you can decide whether to place an order.

Remember that custom urethane parts lead times can range from a few weeks to a few months, so plan accordingly.

Contact Uniflex Today!

If you need assistance finding the right urethane products for your mining application, don’t hesitate to contact Uniflex. At our company, we specialize in custom molded urethane and rubber. We can design, machine, and manufacture all under one roof, which helps keep prices low and lead times short.

Our company has specialized in custom molded urethane and rubber since 1979 and has been a trusted supplier for the aerospace, automotive, robotics, military, oil, gas, mining, and marine industries. We offer the same or better quality as our competitors, but we do it cheaper.

We also offer low and high-volume production orders, rapid prototyping, and specialty materials. If you’re looking for a trusted provider of custom molded urethane and rubber parts, look no further than our company!

So, what are you waiting for? Call us today at 248-486-6000.