Chemicals & Polymers Blog

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Benchmarking Polycaprolactone Polyols Against PTMEG Polyols in Cast Elastomers and TPUs

Polytetramethylene Ether Glycol (PTMEG) is the premier polyether polyol used worldwide in the manufacture of high-performance polyurethane elastomers. Known for its unique performance attributes and processing advantages, PTMEG is used in a variety of applications across multiple industries. These applications include polyurethane and polyurea resins, prepolymers, coatings, adhesives, cast polyurethane resins, TPUs, spandex fibers, and more.  Compared with PPG-based polyols, PTMEG-based polyurethanes exhibit strain-induced crystallization in the soft segments and exact di-functionality, leading to significant enhancements in performance.

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The Benefits of Narrow Molecular Weight Distribution (MWD) Polyols in Polyurethanes

The Daicel N-series of polyols, offered worldwide by Gantrade, is a family of Innovative, very narrow molecular weight distribution polycaprolactone polyols. Key features and benefits of this unique low MWD series of polycaprolactone polyols for polyurethanes include the following:

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Making the CASE for Polyurethane Elastomers: Polyether Polyols vs. Polyester Polyols

Formulators of coatings, adhesives, sealants, and elastomers (CASE), as well as makers of foams and elastic fiber applications, utilize a diverse family of polyols to meet specifications for product performance. These polyols include polytetramethylene ether glycols (PTMEG), polypropylene glycols (PPG), adipate- and phthalate-based polyesters, polycaprolactone polyols, and polycarbonate polyols.

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Polyurethanes in 3D Printing

3D printing is one of the fastest-growing and most transformative fabrication technologies in the modern era, due to the benefits of manufacturing parts with complex geometries, reducing cost and weight, and achieving dimensional accuracy. It’s often the only feasible technology for producing specific, complex parts with intricate details that are simply not possible using conventional manufacturing.  

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Polyurethane Sustainability: Structure-Property Relationships

More and more, manufacturers are demanding bio-sourced raw materials to help their customers achieve their sustainability goals. In the service of these goals, manufacturers must focus on raw materials that are safer and derived from renewable resources.  Sustainability helps manufacturers and their customers achieve a triple bottom line based on profitability, greater social responsibility, and improved environmental conditions via a reduced CO2 footprint.  

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Polyurethane Properties: Tailoring PUR Hard Block Segments

Polyurethanes are a special class of segmented block copolymers, consisting of alternating sequences of soft and hard segments. The soft segment is generally based on polyether or polyester polyols with glass transitions (Tg) well below room temperature, while the hard segment is composed of a diisocyanate and chain extender. The hard segment is often crystalline.

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Aliphatic vs Aromatic Polyols

All polyol classes used in polyurethanes have a set of unique attributes that make them useful as the soft-segment in specific polyurethane elastomer applications.  Selecting the best polyol for a specific formula can be the difference between making a high-quality product or one that’s low-performing. The key for proper material selection is a good understanding of the inherent characteristics of each polyol chemistry. 

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Hydrolysis Resistance Polyester Based Polyurethanes

Polyurethanes based on polyester polyols, in general, exhibit higher tensile and tear properties, abrasion resistance, thermal stability, chemical resistance and weathering performance compared to polyether-based polyurethanes.  They are preferred in the most demanding environments and applications. However, there is one weak point of polyester based polyurethanes.  They are much more susceptible to hydrolysis compare with polyethers in polyurethanes. A part made of polyester based polyurethanes can gradually lose properties in a humid environment or water emersion.

2-Methyl-1,3-propanediol (MPO) based polyester polyols  largely overcomes this deficiency due to the steric shielding of the ester linkage by the pendant methyl group on MPO, and greater hydrophobicity.  MPOis an ideal diol intermediate for polyester polyols used in polyurethane elastomers (PURs).  This is because MPOs unique structure enhances hydrolytic stability, affords liquid polyester polyols that are easier to handle, and demonstrates excellent compatibility in formulations. 

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Polyurethane Elastomer: Blends of PTMEG and PPG Polyols

The two major families of polyether polyols are polytetramethylene ether glycols (PTMEG) and polypropylene glycols (PPG).  PTMEG is the premier polyol used in high-performance polyurethane elastomers.  PTMEG-based polyurethanes exhibit superior resistance to hydrolytic cleavage, good mechanical property retention at low temperature, high resiliency, good processing characteristics, and excellent mechanical and dynamic properties. Strain-induced crystallization of the PTMEG soft segments, exact di-functionality, and low acid values are all contributing factors to the good mechanical properties of the associated polyurethane elastomers.  PPG polyols have excellent hydrolysis resistance and low temperature properties as well. However, when compared to PTMEG polyols, the PPG polyols have lower mechanical properties and are more prone to thermo-oxidative degradation.

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Bio-Based Polyester Polyols for Performance Polyurethane Elastomers

The rising demand for “green,” bio-sourced raw materials and intermediates originates from the concept of sustainability. In our industry, sustainability is about employing materials that are safe, efficient to use and derived from renewable resources. 

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