Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is a thermoplastic polymer that comes in two forms - rigid and flexible.
What is Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)?
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) was initially made by accident in the late-1800s when a German chemist exposed vinyl chloride gas sealed in a tube to sunlight. The polymerisation technique using sunlight was later patented and PVC began to be manufactured in greater quantities in the early 1900s. Today, it is the world's third-most widely produced plastic polymer.
Polyvinyl Chloride is widely available in two forms: rigid and flexible. However, there are numerous more types (see below) which makes PVC a very versatile - and affordable - plastic material.
Different types of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
Plasticised or Flexible PVC (PVC-P): Is manufactured through the addition of plasticisers to PVC. These additives act as lubricants, resulting in a more transmissible and flexible plastic.
Unplasticised or Rigid PVC (uPVC): Unplasticised Polyvinyl Chloride is much harder than PVC making it a cost-effective plastic with high resistance to impact, water, weather, chemicals and corrosive environments. It is often used as a wood and metal substitute in the construction industry (eg. window and door frames).
Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride (CPVC): High chlorine content results in high durability, chemical stability and flame retardancy. CPVC can withstand a wider range of temperatures making it useful in industrial hot water plumbing and fire protection.
Molecular Oriented PVC (PVC-O): Is manufactured by reorganising the amorphous structure of uPVC into a layered structured which enhances the physical characteristics pf PVC for greater stiffness and fatigue resistance. PVC-O is often used in pressure pipes for drinking water, buried pipes for agricultural irrigation and sewer mains.
Foam PVC Sheet (FPVC): PVC Foam sheet (or PVC Foam board) is formed through an extrusion process to create sheets that come in varying thicknesses. It's versatility and attractive performance characteristics mean that it is widely used indoor and outdoor, industrial and many other applications, including decorative panels and decor items, kitchen and bathroom cabinets, vehicle and marine components, and more.
Popular uses for Foam PVC (FPVC) Board
Foam PVC board is easy to cut with a CNC router cutter for decorative and structural applications
Marine grade FPCV is designed for harsh conditions, including UV exposure
Performance characteristics of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
Good temperature stability at room temperature
Good chemical resistance
Good electrical insulation
Good vapor barrier properties
Easy to machine cut and engrave
Not all brands of FPVC are the same! Different brands come with different properties, including density, colour, surface finish and pricing. Some popular brands names include Brett Martin, Celuka, Celtec, Hesung, Palight, Simopor, Nycel and Vykom . We can help you choose the right FPVC sheet for your project.
Limitations of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
Difficult to heat process
Limited solvent stress cracking resistance
Can become brittle at low temperatures when not modified with additives
Structurally unstable at temperatures above approximately 60C
Foam PVC sheets are available in a wide range of sizes, thicknesses and colours. Please feel welcome to talk with us about stock availability.
Applications for Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
Being lightweight, durable, low cost and easily machined, PVC is often used as a substitute for traditional building materials, such as wood and metal. It is also an affordable and highly versatile material for sign making, sets, shop fittings, decorative panels and more!
Our very large CNC router cutting machines mean that we are able to cut very large sheets of material for big projects (see photo).