PVC

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is one of the most commonly used thermoplastic polymers in the world (next to only a few more widely used plastics like PET and PP). It is a naturally white and very brittle (prior to the additions of plasticizers) plastic.

 

PVC is produced in two general forms, first as a rigid or unplasticized polymer (RPVC or uPVC), and second as a flexible plastic. Flexible, plasticized or regular PVC is softer and more amenable to bending than uPVC due to the addition of plasticizers like phthalates (e.g. diisononyl phthalate or DINP). Flexible PVC is commonly used in construction as insulation on electrical wires or in flooring for homes, hospitals, schools, and other areas where a sterile environment is a priority, and in some cases as a replacement for rubber.

 

Density: PVC is very dense compared to most plastics (specific gravity around 1.4)

 

Hardness: Rigid PVC is very hard.

 

Strength: Rigid PVC has extremely good tensile strength.

 

Polyvinyl Chloride is a “thermoplastic” (as opposed to “thermoset”) material which has to do with the way the plastic responds to heat.

Thermoplastic materials become liquid at their melting point (a range for PVC between the very low 100 degrees Celsius and higher values like 260 degrees Celsius depending on the additives). A major useful attribute about thermoplastics is that they can be heated to their melting point, cooled, and reheated again without significant degradation. Instead of burning, thermoplastics like polypropylene liquefy, which allows them to be easily injection molded and then subsequently recycled. By contrast, thermoset plastics can only be heated once (typically during the injection molding process). The first heating causes thermoset materials to set (similar to a 2-part epoxy) resulting in a chemical change that cannot be reversed. If you tried to heat a thermoset plastic to a high temperature a second time it would simply burn. This characteristic makes thermoset materials poor candidates for recycling.

 

PVC takes less non-renewable fossil fuel to make than any other commodity plastic because unlike other thermoplastics which are entirely derived from oil, PVC is manufactured from two starting materials: 57% of the molecular weight derived from common salt and 43% derived from hyrdocarbon feedstocks (increasingly ethylene from sugar crops is also being used for PVC production as an alternative to ethylene from oil or natural gas).

 

Properties of PVC: Whilst PVC is most frequently made from salt and oil, in some regions of the world PVC is made without using oil feedstock at all (substituting oil-derived hydrocarbon with bio-derived hydrocarbon feedstock). PVC is therefore far less oil-dependent than other thermoplastics. It is also highly durable and energy efficient across a range of applications, which makes for an extremely effective use of raw materials.

 

PVC is a versatile material that offers many possible applications, these include; window frames, drainage pipe, water service pipe, medical devices, blood storage bags, cable and wire insulation, resilient flooring, roofing membranes, stationary, automotive interiors and seat coverings, fashion and footwear, packaging, cling film, credit cards, vinyl records, synthetic leather and other coated fabrics. Want more information? Contact us now!

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