Polyurethane (PUR and PU) is a polymer composed of organic units joined by carbamate (urethane) links. While most polyurethanes are thermosetting polymers that do not melt when heated, thermoplastic polyurethanes are also available.

Polyurethanes are in the class of compounds called reaction polymers, which include epoxies, unsaturated polyesters, and phenolics. Polyurethanes are produced by reacting an isocyanate containing two or more isocyanate groups per molecule (R-(N=C=O)n) with a polyol containing on average two or more hydroxyl groups per molecule (R'-(OH)n) in the presence of a catalyst or by activation with ultraviolet light.

The properties of a polyurethane are greatly influenced by the types of isocyanates and polyols used to make it. Long, flexible segments, contributed by the polyol, give soft, elastic polymer. High amounts of crosslinking give tough or rigid polymers. Long chains and low crosslinking give a polymer that is very stretchy, short chains with lots of crosslinks produce a hard polymer while long chains and intermediate crosslinking give a polymer useful for making foam. The crosslinking present in polyurethanes means that the polymer consists of a three-dimensional network and molecular weight is very high. One consequence of this is that typical polyurethanes do not soften or melt when they are heated; they are thermosetting polymers. The choices available for the isocyanates and polyols, in addition to other additives and processing conditions allow polyurethanes to have the very wide range of properties that make them such widely used polymers.

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