Types of Vinyl: Properties, Composition, and Industrial Applications

Adams Plastics is a leader in the PVC industry, trusted for our high-quality vinyl and recycling services. Our company got its start in Chicago in 1967, with an emphasis on PVC film for applications in advertising and loose-leaf binders. As customers' needs changed over time, the team at Adams Plastics listened, and we expanded our material offerings and capabilities to better serve our clients in the automotive, marine, healthcare, and hospitality industries, among others.

The result was a unique cyclical service for customers, allowing them to sell us vinyl, and other plastics, for recycling that are then used to produce new plastics for purchase. Today, the company has an international supply base and a growing, innovative line of materials that includes imitation leathers, laminated vinyl, and antimicrobial product options. With a dedication to new or custom plastic offerings, providing outstanding customer service, and acting as an expert resource in the industry, Adams Plastics is the go-to company for your vinyl film and recycling needs.

What Is Vinyl?

Vinyl, or Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), is not a natural substance. It is a synthetic material that manufacturers produce from chlorine, which is present in salt, and ethylene, which exists in crude oil. The finished plastic product is lightweight, strong, and available in a variety of colors. 

In our homes, vinyl has applications in construction materials like siding and flooring. However, this man-made plastic resin is widely sought after in a number of industries for its versatility, durability, low production costs, and resistance to a variety of conditions. 

What Are the Properties of PVC Film or Vinyl?

Vinyl has a variety of characteristics that make it useful across diverse industries, including: 

  • Affordability. Vinyl is an inexpensive plastic material for manufacturers to produce and configure. With numerous size and shape options, PVC is a cost-effective selection for a wide array of industrial applications. 
  • Durability and resistance capabilities. PVC is highly resistant to everything from abrasion and wear to corrosive chemical agents. Vinyl also stands up well to shock, impact force, moisture, and other harsh environmental conditions. This strength lends vinyl longevity in medium- to long-term applications. The high level of chlorine in its composition also makes PVC quite resistant to fire because it is slow to ignite, does not produce a great deal of heat when burned, and is self-extinguishing. 
  • Safety and compliance. Vinyl is non-toxic and environmentally safe, not to mention recyclable. Health and safety organizations both domestically and internationally have set forth certain standards that manufacturers must adhere to for ensuring the safety of PVC. Some of these groups include the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and International Safety Standards (ISS). 
  • Lack of conductivity. As this material does not conduct electricity, PVC is well suited to applications as an insulator in mechanical or industrial components as well as a building material. 
  • Versatility. The characteristics above result in PVC being supremely useful for a variety of applications. Additionally, thermoplastic PVC film is available from Adams Plastics in a myriad of forms and finishes from flexible to rigid and glossy clear to matte colored to help customers find exactly what they are looking for. 
How Is Vinyl or PVC Film Used in Industrial Settings?

Since it is such a durable material with the capability for manufacturers to shape it into a variety of configurations and sizes, different industries use vinyl in dramatically different ways. Vinyl products can be found in vehicles, boats, commercial buildings, homes, toys, healthcare essentials, beauty products, safety equipment, and much more. 

Automotive 

Due to its flexibility and potential for customization, plastic plays a vital part in the automotive industry. Modern vehicles would look and function quite differently without manufacturers' use of lightweight, rigid vinyl. Automotive companies utilize a large assortment of plastic parts on the interior and exterior of vehicles to increase functionality, aesthetics, and environmental resistance. Common uses for vinyl in the automotive industry include: 

  • Covers or bags for cargo, fenders, spare tires, and accessories 
  • Dashboards, armrests, and other interior components 
  • Floor mats or carpet heel pads 
  • Interior cables and wires 
  • Moldings for vehicle bodies 
  • Transparent vinyl windows for convertibles 
  • Upholstery 
  • Weatherstripping 
  • Windshield wiper systems

Construction 

A significant portion of the vinyl that the United States produces goes directly to the construction industry. PVC's light weight, durability, fire resistance, and non-conductive nature make it indispensable for residential, industrial, and commercial buildings alike. Applications for vinyl in the building industry are some of the most well known. Common uses include: 

  • Decks, railings, and fences 
  • Electrical conduits 
  • Exterior building applications like roofing, siding, gutters, and downspouts 
  • Frames for windows 
  • Liners for landfills 
  • Piping for water, fire sprinkler, sewage, and irrigation systems 
  • Wall and floor coverings 
  • Wire insulation 

Healthcare 

Vinyl products are crucial in helping medical professionals provide quality care and protecting the health of patients. Since healthcare-grade vinyl is safe, flexible, strong, and impermeable to germs, it is ideal for a variety of uses in the industry. PVC has capabilities that make it perfect for single-use applications, but because it is easy for healthcare professionals to clean and disinfect without compromising durability, PVC film is also great for multi-use purposes. Common applications of vinyl products in healthcare include: 

  • Blood, catheter, drainage, and IV fluid bags 
  • Caps 
  • Dialysis equipment 
  • Ear protectors 
  • Furniture and exam table upholstery 
  • Gloves 
  • Goggles 
  • Inhalation masks 
  • IV tubing 
  • Medical sealants 
  • Mouthpieces 
  • Thermal blankets 

Marine 

Marine-grade vinyl is resistant to abrasion and may be coated to make it resistant to mildew, bacteria, and damage from UV rays. The fabric is designed to be stain-resistant, fade-resistant, and easy to clean. Unlike most fabrics, marine vinyl is also fully resistant to water. It is important to note that marine vinyl is different than standard vinyl, automotive vinyl, and decorative vinyl. Common applications for marine-grade vinyl include: 

  • Awnings 
  • Boat enclosures and covers 
  • Upholstery 
  • Windows and window treatments 

Hospitality 

In the hospitality industry, vinyl leather can create the right atmosphere and level of comfort. Vinyl leather is useful for furnishings in luxury resorts, hotels, cruise lines, restaurants, and other venues. PVC surfaces are simple for workers to wipe down and keep clean. Some common applications of vinyl in the hospitality industry include: 

  • Easy-to-clean floor coverings 
  • Faux leather upholstery 
  • Noise dampeners 
  • Patio enclosures 
  • Tablecloths and placemats 
  • Wall panels 

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