Processing and Products
PVC can be converted into various products in a number of ways. The range extends from heat-insulating, energy-saving windows to robust pipes and easy-to-clean floorings. Approximately seventy percent of PVC materials are used in the building sector, many of which are long-life products.
Extrusion or Injection Moulding
PVC is one of the few polymers which can be processed thermoplastically and by means of paste technologies. Thermoplastic processes take place primarily on extruders. The final products are pipes, profiles, sheets, tubes, and cables. Film and floor coverings are created by means of calenders (rolling mills). Fittings and casings are produced in the injection moulding process and hollow articles such as bottles by blow moulding.
Emulsion and micro-suspension PVC is applied as a paste to various soft PVC products such as tarpaulins, flooring, coatings, and artificial leather. As an alternative, rotation moulding is used to shape dolls and balls.
A Wide Range of Products
PVC can be used in numerous products due to its outstanding properties and therefore is an integral part of our daily life.
In Germany, approximately 70% of all PVC applications are intended for the construction sector. In particular, this includes window profiles, pipes, wall and floor coverings, as well as roofing membranes. PVC windows are weather resistant, durable, easy to clean, economical, and recyclable at the end of their life cycles. Robust pipes made of rigid PVC transport valuable drinking water, drain roofs, and dispose of sewage water. They can be easily, safely, and economically installed by means of structural and civil engineering. Building products made of PVC are distinguished especially by their longevity: this is a decisive criterion for selecting the appropriate material.
In the packaging sector PVC is found in special applications such as blister packs, adhesive tapes, hollow articles, and cups. Cables and wires with an insulation or sheathing made of soft PVC play a decisive role in the smooth operations of our daily lives in terms of energy supply, control functions, and communications. Protective underbody sealing, interior panelling, and cable harnesses inside vehicles and under the bonnet play an important role in the automotive sector. In addition, medical products such as blood bags or tubes, office articles, garden equipment and furniture, and tarpaulins are indispensable. These examples alone demonstrate the versatile possibilities of applications for PVC.
Versatile Material Properties
PVC is an all-around talent: it is hard and durable or soft and flexible as need be. Simple changes in the formulation allow for practically any desired material property. Therefore, PVC exists crystal-clear or coloured, electrically well-insulating or anti-static. This durable plastic is largely resistant to chemicals, weather and abrasion, and does not cause health risks. Moreover, the chlorine content makes the material highly flame-retardant. Further advantages of the material include efficient production and easy processing as well as the material-saving manufacturing of consumer goods.
Durable Applications Prevail
Detailed examinations on the length of use of PVC products in Western Europe reveal that long-term applications are dominant. This is especially true for Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. These countries have confidence in PVC products especially in the construction sector. In Switzerland, 80% of these material solutions are used in the building sector, and approximately 70% in Germany. This high quota can be traced back to the efficient, long-term properties of PVC: this is a further economic and ecological advantage since valuable resources are being saved.