Polystyrene is one of the most popular plastics produced today. It is used in a variety of industries, for the production of materials as diverse as packaging for shipping to thermal insulation for homes. There are several types of polystyrene, each offering unique properties influenced by the process used to produce the plastic.
Extruded polystyrene foam (sometimes referred to by the Dow Chemical brand name, Styrofoam) is an amazing material for construction work or any insulation needs. The extrusion manufacturing process produces a “closed cell” type of plastic, a material with an exceptional degree of mechanical strength which also offers excellent water resistance and low thermal conductivity. Low thermal conductivity makes extruded polystyrene an ideal material for insulation in buildings and other applications. The closed cell structure offers high water resistance allows for usage even in wet or humid environments like might be encountered on roofs, walls or even in refrigerated environments where condensation is a leading concern.
Extruded polystyrene is lightweight, nontoxic and easy to work with. It can be cut and bonded with no hassle, giving construction workers the ease of use that lets them get the job done quickly and efficiently. Even very large sections are lightweight and easy to handle, while still managing to provide amazing mechanical strength, high compression strength and impressive thermal insulation properties. Polystyrene insulation is a favored building material, widely used worldwide in private and commercial applications.
Today polystyrene insulation can be found in almost any building. It is used as the structural core and insulation in walls, floors, roofs, refrigerated trucks, cold rooms, and a multitude of other applications. Its useful water resistant properties have even seen polystyrene used as an effective flotation device in the early days of its development, but its most successful applications have been found in building insulation. Buildings insulated with polystyrene can be much more effectively heated or cooled. The low thermal conductivity makes sure your building retains the heat when its cold but can also breath and release heat when its hot.
Architects and contractors have found ways to make polystyrene work for them outside the construction site. It is often used as a material for architectural models. Similarly, it has found applications in the hobbyist recreational model market. While marketed primarily as a building material, the range of possibilities for extruded polystyrene is only limited by your creativity. It has been used by great effective in unorthodox and exciting new ways by tinkerers and inventors the world over.
The production of extruded polystyrene materials is a careful process that has a history spanning back nearly two hundred years. It is a tale of mind boggling advances in chemistry, engineering and modern manufacturing. Today, modern polystyrene products are the result of decades of work by some of the most brilliant minds of the last two centuries. The combination of all this genius has produced an ideal high quality plastic material which provides enough mechanical strength and proper thermal conductivity properties to serve as one of the essential pieces of the modern contractors toolkit. Polystyrene is an invaluable tool which the world would look quite different without.