Brief Introduction of PVC

Published: 01st September 2010
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Most of us have played with the inflatable products. Even though we have not played with the inflatable bouncers or slides, we must be familiar with the common inflatable balloons. With brilliant color and good feeling of touching, these inflatable products are more and more popular both as entertainment and advertising medium. However, do you know the material of these inflatable products?





Actually, the material of inflatable products is Polyvinyl chloride, commonly abbreviated PVC, is a thermoplastic polymer. It is a vinyl polymer constructed of repeating vinyl groups having one of their hydrogen’s replaced with a chloride group.





Polyvinyl chloride is the third most widely produced plastic, after polyethylene and polypropylene. PVC is widely used in construction. Because it is cheap, durable, and easy to assemble. PVC production is expected to exceed 40 million tons by 2016.





It can be made softer and more flexible by the addition of plasticizers, the most widely used being phthalates. In this form, it is used in clothing (especially fetish clothing) and upholstery, and to make flexible hoses and tubing, flooring, to roofing membranes, and electrical cable insulation. It is also commonly used in figurines and in inflatable products such as water beds, pool toys, and inflatable combos.





PVC was first produced in a laboratory in 1872. It began to be produced commercially in the 1930s, when techniques for mixing it with plasticizers became known and PVC emerged as a substitute for rubber. In the 1950s and 1960s many U.S. companies established facilities for polymerizing vinyl chloride into PVC. At that time the polymerization was done in open vats, requiring relatively little capitalization. High levels of worker exposure to vinyl chloride in the process were not considered hazardous, though they typically produced a narcotic effect. "We used to joke about getting a cheap high from it," says Professor Rudolph Deanin of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, who worked in PVC production during that period.





In 1971 a rare cancer of the liver, angiosarcoma, was traced to vinyl chloride exposure among PVC workers, and strict workplace exposure limits were established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). These restrictions necessitated radical changes in the manufacturing environment— all polymerization vats had to be sealed and controlled. The cost of these changes and the increasing economies of scale enjoyed at larger plants eventually eliminated smaller producers, who either shut down their PVC production facilities or were bought out by the larger producers.





Today the North American PVC market is dominated by about a dozen large manufacturers. A few of these, such as Occidental Petroleum, Inc., operate facilities for all phases of the process, from chlorine and ethylene production to end products. Most, however, purchase some of the refined materials from other producers. Dow Chemical Company produces large quantities of vinyl chloride for sale to other companies but produces no PVC itself.





PVC can be divided into soft PVC and stiff PVC. To some degree the thriving of the inflatable productspush the development of the PVC. Kids and adults are fond of these slides which are made of PVC. It is this reality that makes the PVC market more prosperous.

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