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MPC Polyurethane Knowledge Center

Polyurethane Bushings

Industries that use polyurethane bushings are numerous and include automotive, healthcare, transportation, and manufacturing. Bushings reduce friction between moving and stationary components and are a viable replacement for lubricants since they are wear resistant and require no maintenance. Bushings are made of various types of materials depending on the application and the requirements. In the majority of cases, they are made of different types of rubber, polyurethane, or urethane, which are materials that have the resilience and strength to withstand stress and friction of connected parts.

Although rubber has been the most popular material for the production of bushings by OEM and aftermarket suppliers due to lower cost polyurethane and urethane have been slowly replacing rubber due to their exceptional strength and long service life. Over time, rubber breaks down as it is exposed to loads and compression, chemicals, salts, heat, and cold while polyurethane and urethane are resistant to those environmental conditions and can support higher loads and compression.

Polyurethane Bushings are Superior to Plastic, Metal, & Rubber

Polyurethane bushings are used because polyurethane is superior to other materials such as plastic, rubber, and metal. Polyurethane bushings offer high load and high compression abilities that function long after rubber and plastic bushings have failed. Client bushings are completely customized according to function. Bushings can be made iron-strong or sponge-soft, in any color, or shape. In addition, polyurethane bushings offer long-run durability and extreme resistance to harsh environments of heat, solvents, chemicals, and abrasion.

Examples of Polyurethane Bushings Features Available With Polyurethane
Polyurethane Suspension Bushings Custom Formulations
Polyurethane Control Arm Bushings High loads
Bushings for Aftermarket and OEM Automotive Parts Manufacturers Wide range of durometers, colors,  and design flexibility
Bushings for Railroad Car Suspensions High Compression
Bushings for Artificial Limbs and Prosthetics Long Run Durability 

Advantages of Polyurethane Bushings

Since the introduction of polyurethane bushings in the middle of the 1990s, they have become the standard bushing for a wide array of applications in the aftermarket. The use of polyurethane bushings is mainly due to their superior performance and strength compared to rubber bushings and longer service life.

Polyurethane is a polymer that is made by combining diisocyanates and polyols. There are several different types of polyurethane each of which is made differently. The molecular structure of polyurethane is what makes it more resilient and durable than rubber.

Durometer Rating – Polyurethane may be formulated for soft or hard bushings depending on the application. This aspect of polyurethane makes it ideal for improving ride and performance. Soft urethane like 60A durometer would absorb shock and hard urethane like 90A would be stiffer for heavy loads like transmission mounts.

Resilience – Constant use and exposure to the elements can damage and eat away at a bushing. Unlike other bushing materials, polyurethane is resistant to the effects of ultraviolet rays, salt, and oils - and remains functional for many years.

Adaptable – The various types of polyurethane bushings and their hardness have multiple uses each of which is designed to meet the requirements and demands of a specific application.

Reliable – Polyurethane bushings have been tested multiple times in a wide range of climatic conditions. It has been found that polyurethane bushings hold up in stressful environments and continue to function without any harmful effects.

Absorption – The main function of a bushing is to absorb vibrations, prevent wear from friction, and provide silent operation of equipment. This particular aspect of bushings is the central characteristic of polyurethane bushings.

High Load Capacity – Polyurethane has an unusually high load-bearing capacity with exceptional deflection and recovery abilities. The elastic portion of the bushing stores and returns energy. When polyurethane bushings are placed in load-bearing conditions, they are capable of supporting loads with greater efficiency than other materials with similar hardness.

Cost –With polyurethane bushings, customers get exceptional performance and longer service than rubber. While the cost of polyurethane bushings is higher than rubber, the longer service life and improved performance justify the higher cost.

Polyurethane Bushings in Vehicles

The use of polyurethane bushings is constantly growing as new applications are introduced and as industries that use bushings discover them. The implementation of polyurethane bushings is highly dependent on the mechanism where they are needed. Automobile manufacturers depend on polyurethane bushings for the smooth operation of their cars and long service life.

Suspension bushings are used to reduce friction between the metal components of a car’s suspension system. They are shock-absorbing material that ensures a smooth ride. The hardness of polyurethane suspension bushings makes them ideal for withstanding the demands of the suspension system. The automotive industry depends on polyurethane bushings for their high load capacity and compression abilities.

Polyurethane bushings float after being installed and do not develop flat spots, which allows for more rotation that provides flexibility for auto suspensions to align with control arms or leaf springs. In most cases, polyurethane bushings require a single lubrication at installation to eliminate the possibility of squeaking and extend the life of the bushing.

Rubber vs Polyurethane for Urethane Bushings

Manufacturers have examined the properties of rubber and those of polyurethane to determine which material is the more durable and long-lasting. Polyurethane is known for having greater durability than rubber and the strength and toughness to withstand constant use. The texture and structure of rubber is known for its ability to absorb vibrations and shocks in is generally very pliable.

In automobiles, rubber bushings can dampen and absorb road noise, vibrations, and jolts encountered when driving over rough, uneven surfaces. They provide a quieter smoother ride and are installed during automobile assembly.

The processing of polyurethane is a complex and involved process that produces both, hard and soft material that is longer lasting than rubber. Polyurethanes provide a better driving experience and offer drivers better control of a vehicle. The added rigidity of polyurethane bushings reduces the sway of a vehicle, which happens frequently with rubber bushings.

The main benefit of rubber bushings is their ability to reduce noise and vibrations at lower cost. This aspect of their properties is the reason that manufacturers rely on them during assembly. The drawback to this benefit is the extra play rubber bushings allow in a suspension system. Since polyurethane bushings do not flex or shift as much as rubber, they do not have excess suspension movement giving drivers better control.

A major difficulty with rubber is its susceptibility to degradation, which requires that it be replaced. Auto mechanics recommend replacing worn and degraded rubber bushings with polyurethane bushings since polyurethane bushings can perform better and have a much longer service life.

Polyurethane Bushings in Healthcare

Polyurethane bushings have found useful applications in the healthcare industry, contributing to advancing medical devices and improving patient care. In various healthcare equipment and instruments, such as hospital beds, wheelchairs, and medical carts, polyurethane bushings provide essential support and functionality.

For example, in hospital beds, polyurethane bushings play a role in adjusting the height and positioning of the bed, ensuring smooth and precise movements. These bushings offer excellent load-bearing capacity and resistance to wear, allowing for repeated adjustments without compromising performance.

In wheelchairs, polyurethane bushings enhance the maneuverability and comfort of users. They minimize friction and vibration, providing a smoother ride and reducing the strain on the user’s body. Polyurethane bushings also contribute to the durability and longevity of wheelchair components, reducing maintenance requirements.

Additionally, polyurethane bushings offer reliable support in medical carts and equipment that require mobility and stability. They help to absorb shocks and vibrations, ensuring the safe transport of sensitive medical equipment and reducing the risk of damage.

Polyurethane Bushings in Transportation

Train with polyurethane bushingsPolyurethane bushings are significant in various transportation applications, from automobiles to commercial vehicles and aircraft. These bushings offer exceptional resistance to harsh environmental conditions, vibrations, and loads, making them indispensable in transportation.

In automobiles, polyurethane bushings find applications in various components, including suspension systems, engine mounts, and drivetrain components. Polyurethane bushings improve handling, stability, and overall ride quality by reducing friction and providing superior load-bearing capabilities. They help to maintain proper wheel alignment, enhance steering response, and minimize unwanted movements, ensuring a comfortable and controlled driving experience.

Polyurethane bushings also offer durability and reliability in commercial vehicles such as trucks and buses. They can withstand heavy loads, vibrations, and demanding road conditions, providing long-lasting performance and reducing maintenance costs. Polyurethane bushings also improve safety by minimizing the transmission of vibrations and impacts, thereby reducing driver fatigue and enhancing vehicle stability.

Furthermore, in the aviation industry, polyurethane bushings find applications in aircraft components, including landing gear, control systems, and engine mounts. These bushings provide critical support, ensuring smooth movements, vibration isolation, and efficient operation. With their ability to withstand extreme temperatures and resist chemicals, polyurethane bushings contribute to the reliability and safety of aircraft systems.

Polyurethane Bushings in Manufacturing

In industrial machinery, such as conveyor systems, robotics, and automation equipment, for example, polyurethane bushings help to minimize friction and ensure smooth motion. These bushings can withstand heavy loads, high speeds, and continuous operation, contributing to the longevity and efficiency of manufacturing processes.

Polyurethane bushings also find applications in manufacturing equipment such as presses, molds, and die-cutting machines. By providing stability, precision, and resistance to impact and vibration, these bushings help to maintain tight tolerances, improve product quality, and reduce the risk of equipment failure.

Moreover, polyurethane bushings are used to assemble various components and parts. They facilitate precise alignment, absorb shocks, and minimize noise and vibration, enhancing the accuracy and efficiency of manufacturing operations.

Examples of Polyurethane Bushings: 

Polyurethane Control Arm Bushings

Polyurethane control arm bushings play a crucial role in enhancing the performance and durability of a vehicle’s suspension system. These bushings serve as a pivotal connection between the control arm and the chassis, allowing for smooth and precise movement. The inherent hardness of polyurethane makes it an ideal material for control arm bushings, as it provides exceptional resistance to wear and tear.

By reducing friction between the control arm and the chassis, polyurethane bushings help to maintain proper wheel alignment and improve steering response. This translates to enhanced handling and stability, especially during cornering and maneuvering. Unlike traditional rubber bushings, polyurethane control arm bushings are less prone to deformation, ensuring consistent suspension geometry and minimizing unwanted movement.

Polyurethane Bushings for Aftermarket and OEM Automotive Parts Manufacturers

Polyurethane bushings have gained popularity among aftermarket and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the automotive industry. These bushings offer a range of benefits, making them a preferred choice for various applications. Polyurethane bushings provide superior performance and longevity from suspension components to engine mounts.

Polyurethane bushings offer improved durability in aftermarket applications compared to stock rubber bushings. They can withstand higher loads and resist common issues such as deterioration, sagging, and degradation over time. This results in enhanced reliability and reduced maintenance costs for vehicle owners.

OEM manufacturers also utilize polyurethane bushings due to their exceptional load-bearing capacity and chemical, oil, and environmental resistance. By incorporating polyurethane bushings into their designs, OEMs can enhance their vehicle’s overall performance, longevity, and customer satisfaction.

Polyurethane Bushings for Railroad Car Suspensions

Polyurethane bushings find valuable applications in the suspension systems of railroad cars, ensuring smooth and reliable operation under demanding conditions. With their superior load-carrying capabilities and resistance to impact and vibration, polyurethane bushings provide a durable and efficient solution for maintaining optimal performance in railroad car suspensions.

These bushings help to reduce the transmission of vibrations and shocks, thereby improving passenger comfort and reducing wear on various components. Polyurethane bushings contribute to a smoother ride and reduce maintenance requirements by minimizing the impact of uneven tracks and irregularities.

Polyurethane Bushings for Artificial Limbs and Prosthetics

polyurethane-bushings-4Polyurethane bushings also play a crucial role in prosthetics and artificial limbs. These bushings provide important support and cushioning in prosthetic joints, ensuring comfort, stability, and freedom of movement for individuals who rely on such devices.

Polyurethane bushings offer excellent shock absorption properties, allowing for smooth and controlled motion. They can withstand repetitive movements and provide reliable joint articulation. Moreover, the durability and low friction characteristics of polyurethane bushings contribute to the longevity and functionality of prosthetic limbs.

By utilizing polyurethane bushings in artificial limbs and prosthetics, individuals can experience improved mobility, reduced discomfort, and increased confidence in their daily activities.

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