Introduction to Polyurethane

Shropshire, UK


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Course overview

This course will provide a simplified explanation of the manufacture of polyurethanes. It covers the generic chemistry by which they are all formed and how additives are used to achieve the modifications that give us the wide range of properties that make these materials so versatile.
The unique structure of the polyurethanes supply chain will also be explained in relation to the process stage and application.
The course is intended as an introduction for people who may have had little formal training or education with these materials. It will also be useful to people whose core business lies outside PU manufacture who supply into or purchase from PU manufacturers and require a reasonable technical appreciation of the industry. 

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Gain CPD credits

Smithers is an IOM3 Quality Assured training provider and our courses are approved towards professional development.

Learning outcomes

  • A fuller understanding of the structure and properties of the basic building blocks (polyols, isocyanates) to be able to make meaningful choices of which raw materials to use in particular applications.
  • A greater understanding of the importance and use of the wide range of additives which 'make the chemistry work' for particular applications.
  • The confidence and ability to have more meaningful conversations with clients, customers and colleagues on product or market developments.
  • An appreciation of the processing techniques available and the quality procedures and standards to be met to get the products into the market place.
  • Awareness of the enabling agencies involved in the product stewardship of chemicals manufactured and used in the PU Industry and some technologies available for PU end-of-use possibilities.

Course content

What is a polymer? 
  • A generic introduction
What are Polyurethanes? 
  • An overview of this highly versatile polymer; its products and applications.
The Basic Science that makes the applications work!
  • A very concise but important overview of the (complex) chemistry involved and the various basic building blocks that are required to produce the wide range of products, both thermosetting and thermoplastic.
  • How molecular structure affects the properties of these materials.
Quality Control Techniques
  • For measuring consistency of these products
The Structure of the PU Supply Chain
  • Chemical Packages, Systems Houses and Customers - an explanation of the structure of the PU Supply Chain: e.g. the chemical manufacturer, the systems house, the manufacturer or the end user and the economic and logistical factors that impact upon the ‘chemical package’ that the customer purchases.
  • The function of additives: blowing agents (including water), catalysts, surfactants, UV stabilizers and antioxidants, cell modifiers, flame retardants and others which help to determine and control the properties of PU materials.
Processing and Quality Control Techniques
  • Key processing criteria
  • Machines
  • Selected applications
Thermoplastic polyurethane elastomers (TPU’s)

Coatings, Adhesives, Sealants, Elastomers

PU and the environment
  • Environmental Agencies, considerations
  • Recycling (end of use) opportunities

Who will benefit?

  • Newcomers to the PU industry or those who have had no formal technical training in, or prior knowledge of, PU – typical positions include: junior processing technicians, analysts, quality control / quality assurance technicians, EHS practitioners.
  • Managers and professionals in areas such as sales, marketing, purchasing and other roles where a knowledge of PU materials and processing technologies would improve confidence and communication with customers, suppliers and colleagues.
  • Suppliers to the PU industry themselves, whether it be raw materials or engineering or machinery.
  • PU Systems end-users (foamers, extruders): production managers, engineers.
  • Non-PU polymer industries; technical/ business managers who want a basic insight into the technical practicalities of PU Manufacture.

Presenter information

  • Eileen Lancaster
  • Eileen has over 40 years’ experience in the Polyurethane industry in a wide variety of roles including manufacturing, quality control, R&D, technical service and technical sales.
    She has worked for global companies such as BASF, Dow and Huntsman (IFS) as well as smaller systems houses. Eileen now provides consultancy support to clients with technical and commercial projects in many parts of the world including China, Singapore, Malaysia, Russia, Poland, Turkey and UK. Her expertise includes formulation and process optimisation advice in many market segments where polyurethane is used. She also uses her supply chain understanding and relationships to help clients develop their products.

What our delegates say

"Very useful overview, good concise lecture notes, very helpful for future"
Bethany Turner (Apollo Chemicals Ltd)

Questions and queries

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Introduction to Polyurethane

Length 2 days