Urethane and polyurethane have permeated many industries, including the automotive industry. For the last decade, polyurethane has moved from the aerospace niche to a mainstay in manufacturing vehicle parts and accessories. For its resilience and weight, polyurethane has found itself in many demanding applications in the automotive industry. This material has a growing number of use cases, as shown by the industry-wide adoption of polyurethane gaskets and urethane piston hydraulic seals.
We can also attribute urethane’s growing adoption to its superior resistance and tolerance to many chemicals. The moldability of polyurethane also enables manufacturers to mold custom parts to fit client specifications, like custom-fit polyurethane gaskets for use in high-stress environments. Indeed, polyurethane and urethane are taking industries by storm with each part created from them.
Learn more about how these elastomeric materials are changing the game with each car part manufactured.
What Urethane Parts Are Used in the Automotive Industry?
Urethane and polyurethane are often the go-to materials for this vehicle part — urethane seals. However, polyurethane seals are not the only parts that consist of polyurethane. These materials are also ubiquitous in polyurethane gaskets or o-rings. Of late, car manufacturers have also been using polyurethane as muffler mounts.
Let’s get into these automotive components in greater detail:
Urethane Seals and Polyurethane Seals
Polyurethane and urethane seals are the most common examples of vehicle parts consisting of elastomeric materials. Polyurethane seals, like the piston, are ubiquitous in a vehicle’s hydraulic components.
Urethane and polyurethane seals boast resilience, resisting high temperatures. Their tolerance to high temperatures and chemical resistance also makes them long-lasting alternatives to plastic and rubber seals.
Polyurethane seals also have excellent abrasion resistance. This makes polyurethane seals less susceptible to wear and tear, unlike rubber and plastic seals.
Polyurethane Gaskets or O-Rings
Automotive manufacturers also prize polyurethane and urethane for their chemical resistance. The tolerance of these materials to oil to ozone makes polyurethane or urethane an ideal choice for tube connections.
As a result of polyurethane’s chemical tolerance, manufacturers have used it to make polyurethane gaskets or o-rings. Polyurethane gaskets or o-rings provide excellent connections between tube surfaces, guaranteeing leak-proof connection under high heat and pressure.
Polyurethane gaskets also have excellent abrasion resistance, meaning they aren’t susceptible to wear. As a result, polyurethane gaskets and o-rings require only periodic maintenance or replacement.
Rubber or OE suspension bushings have long been the ideal choice for every car manufacturer. Unfortunately, a vehicle’s suspension is the site of much wear and tear. For this reason, a vehicle owner can only expect rubber or OE bushings to last so long. For more longevity, a material like polyurethane may be a better alternative.
Polyurethane bushings share the hardness and durability of steel and high-density rubber. However, polyurethane bushings also have more “give” than metal materials. The resulting ability to absorb shock adds years to a vehicle’s suspension life. Also, the elasticity of polyurethane bushings reduces noise and vibration — two characteristics that many motorists desire.
Polyurethane Muffler Mounts
Manufactured muffler mounts used to consist of rigid materials like steel. However, the desire for noise reduction created a market for polyurethane muffler mounts.
Polyurethane muffler mounts reduce noise due to the polyurethane’s elasticity and shock absorption. These muffler mounts are also abrasion-resistant, requiring infrequent maintenance and repairs.
Why Are Urethane Parts Essential to the Automotive Industry?
Vehicle owners recognize the importance of a lighter vehicle. Reduced weight contributes to not only speed but also fuel and energy efficiency. For this reason, vehicle owners will scour the market for lighter parts that boast the same hardness and quality as metal or steel.
A manufacturer must, in turn, cater to the broad consumer demand for vehicle weight reduction. This is where parts like polyurethane seals and polyurethane gaskets come in.
Polyurethane Seals and Polyurethane Gaskets Feature the Perfect Balance of Qualities
Urethane and polyurethane gaskets and seals provide vehicle owners with lighter, abrasion-resistant, and elastic options. As a bonus, these parts compromise little in durability, hardness, and quality. They are ideal for any supplier or manufacturer catering to vehicle owners who desire alternatives to traditional materials like rubber.
Tight Tolerances and Resistance to Oil and Chemicals
Polyurethane’s elasticity makes it resilient to compressing forces in vehicles. The high-pressure benefits of urethane and polyurethane are apparent in components like suspension bushings and muffler mounts.
Besides their pressure resistance, polyurethane seals and gaskets protect against other chemicals. Polyurethane parts are resistant to oil and ozone and boast impeccable chemical resistance and hardness versatility.
Polyurethane Molds Easily
Often, metallic parts must be machined in advance. Worse yet, metallic stock items cannot be molded, so there will be limitations in the possible specifications of a part.
Urethane solves many production challenges by presenting manufacturers with a material that can be molded and machined easily. As a bonus, polyurethane parts can come in various levels of hardness and thicknesses, depending on what a client calls for.
Companies Can Manufacture to a Client’s Specifications
Part manufacturers can take advantage of polyurethane’s elasticity and mold components to client specifications. Manufacturers can mold polyurethane parts in varying three-dimensional geometries. Under tight tolerances, polyurethane components can also be molded for hardness and durability.
Custom Molded with Competitive Pricing
It costs more to cast metallic parts. As a result, manufacturers will charge more for car parts made of alloy or metallic material. By comparison, casting urethane and polyurethane parts costs less, making them more affordable than their metallic counterparts.
Custom Urethane Parts and How to Purchase
Polyurethane parts like seals, gaskets, o-rings, and bushings are typically not available off-the-peg. They are generally custom-made. Any polyurethane parts available online will usually come in standard colors and sizes. These parts may be of the right material but be unfit for a company’s needs. The only polyurethane and urethane products best purchased online would be stock items, such as polyurethane and urethane bars, sheets, rods, and tubes. These products are available from online suppliers. Of course, a company ordering these items must be able to cast or machine parts to make their product from stock urethane shapes. Otherwise, the company would have no alternative but to hire another company to manufacture urethane parts.
So, it is best to seek a company that not only has urethane and polyurethane but can cast parts with quality and precision. Not many companies offer this combination of services — but we at Uniflex, Inc. do.
Custom-Molded Polyurethane Products Under One Roof
Unlike any other industry-grade material, polyurethane boasts excellent abrasion resistance and customization options. Versatile and affordable to cast, polyurethane parts offer the most bang for your buck regardless of what industry your business caters to. Getting your polyurethane and parts machined simultaneously will be a challenge with most companies — luckily, that’s what we are here for.
Uniflex Inc. is a one-stop shop for all of your polyurethane needs. Our company is an all-in-one solution for polyurethane product prototyping, manufacturing, and high-volume production. With us, you can enjoy short lead times, high-quality manufacturing services, and products molded just the way you want them.
Polyurethane and rubber molding are what we do best. Reach out to us for a free service estimate to experience polyurethane manufacturing that boasts quality and precision.