Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU)
Lubrizol Engineered Polymers is the oldest and largest manufacturer of thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPUs) in the world with more than 50 years of experience and a worldwide network that provides assistance in design, manufacturing, R&D, applications / technical service labs, sales professionals, distributors and agents. The core brands include Estane®, Carbothane®, EstaGrip®, Estaloc®, Isoplast®, Pellethane®, Tecoflex®, Tecophilic®, Tecoplast®, and Tecothane® TPUs. Conductive polymers include Carbo-Rite® carbon alloy systems, Electro-Rite® inherently conductive polymer systems and Stat-Rite® inherently dissipative polymer alloys.
These products are used in agriculture, building construction, consumer goods, cured-in-place pipe, defense, geophysical, industrial, medical, recreational, transportation, and wire and cable applications. Their properties make them particularly well-suited for a variety of uses such as livestock tags, conveyor belts, automotive body moldings, roof under layers, laminates for safety glass, body armor, collapsible tanks, hoses, seals and gaskets, apparel, catheters and IV tubes, and medical balloons and cardiovascular devices. Because Estane TPU is durable, flexible and strong in extreme temperatures, it meets the functional needs of the growing wind turbine market to support the demand for clean energy.
Estane engineered polymers are sold as powders or pellets. The high molecular weight polymer is manufactured with additives to provide the functional properties and appearance to meet the performance requirements of the end use applications and to improve ease of manufacture. These polymers are formulated to select products with a range of features such as different hardness, abrasion resistance, paintability, moisture vapor transmission, flame resistance, chemical resistance and clarity.
Estane engineered polymers are not expected to be able to be absorbed into the body; therefore, they pose no health hazard upon contact. Many biocompatability studies have been conducted on polymers that are used for medical device application. These studies support their long history of safe use. However, these products should not be autoclaved because of the potential for the moisture and high temperature to form methylenedianiline, a known carcinogen. Many Estane engineered polymers also have been certified by NSF International under NSF/ANSI Standard 61 Drinking Water System Components – Heath Effects. Furthermore, many products meet the current requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other international governmental bodies for use in food contact applications.
During processing it is important for customers to control the melt processing temperature and provide adequate ventilation. For most thermoplastic polyurethanes, melt processing is in the range of 177 - 232 deg. C (350 - 450 deg. F). However, some products may process at different temperatures. Heating above 232 deg. C (450 deg. F) can generate hazardous decomposition products. Any operations emitting fumes or vapors (including thermo-forming, heat joining, cutting and/or sealing of articles and clean up) need to be conducted under well-ventilated conditions. Overexposure to vapors or mist may cause dizziness, headache, nausea, flu-like symptoms, and/or irritation of the respiratory tract, eyes, or skin. Contact with the heated polymer may cause burns.
Estane engineered polymers are high molecular weight polymers that are not water -soluble and not expected to pose any environmental hazard. The functional additives typically are present at low levels and are expected to be either held within the polymer matrix and/or to be released slowly at diminishing levels. The low potential for migration at significant levels is supported by the medical device biocompatability studies and the certifications by NSF International under NSF/ANSI Standard 61 Drinking Water System Components–Heath Effects.
Many products are used in food contact applications such as food conveying belts and hoses. FDA has approved a wide range of medical devices containing various Estane engineered polymers. Likewise, many products meet the current requirements of FDA and other governmental bodies for use in food contact applications to support customer regulatory requirements. Many products also are certified by non-governmental organizations such as NSF International, which has developed and has maintained their drinking water systems component certification process with support from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and utilizing the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) process. Customers often rely on the NSF assurance of safety.
Estane engineered polymers are sold to industrial customers who manufacture a variety of articles and materials. Based on their physical properties, workers may be exposed to these products by dermal contact during the manufacture of the article. There also is a potential for inhalation exposure when working with powder compound. Vapors may be generated during high temperature processing. Once the articles are manufactured, they are not expected to pose a health concern.
Information on the safe handling of these products is provided through material safety data sheets to workers who make the products and who manufacture the articles or materials. These documents provide a broad range of safety information including hazard warnings and recommendations on exposure controls. They note that engineering controls are needed to control exposures and specify what personal protective equipment is needed.
During the manufacture of these products, engineering controls and work practices are used to minimize exposure to vapors and dust. Good industrial hygiene practices and gloves are used to avoid skin contact. Gloves are recommended during melt processing to avoid burns. Local exhaust ventilation is used where appropriate to draw vapors or mists away from workers to prevent routine exposures. Respirators are recommended during use if dust, mist, or vapor exposures are likely.
Worker health is monitored through the Lubrizol Occupational Health Surveillance Program.
Estane® Engineered Polymers provides polymer technologies designed to meet a wide range of performance needs. The exceptional physical and functional properties of these products and systems make them ideal for use in demanding applications where abrasion resistance, low temperature flexibility and strength are desired.
Estane® Engineered Polymers have met the safety and performance needs of our customers for decades. They are used in approved medical devices and food contact applications such as food conveying belts and hoses. Many products also are certified by NSF International.
Although workers may be exposed to these products by dermal contact or inhalation of dust or vapors during manufacture or use, the potential for exposure and for health effects to occur is mitigated by the use of engineering controls and work practices.