Characteristics of PVC

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.
Construction products like PVC pipes are widely used.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is a plastic that can be manufactured in different colors, rigidity or flexibility and is utilized in products across a range of industries, including automotive, building, electrical, electronic, medical and packaging products. Its methods and materials used in manufacture grant the characteristics making it a popular and practical choice for use in a wide variety of applications.


Compatibility with Additives

PVC's chemical structure of Chlorine polar groups and its amorphous nature allow it to mix easily with many different substances. Depending on additives used in manufacturing with PVC, many qualities can be imbued in products including anti-mist, different colors, elasticity, fire retarding, flexibility, impact resistance and microbe prevention.


The factor that most strongly affects durability of a product under conditions of typical use is resistance to oxidation by atmospheric oxygen. Because PVC is highly resistant to oxidative reactions, its durability is superb. For example, a measurement taken by the Japan PVC Pipe and Fittings Association showed no deterioration in 35-year-old underground pipes. This durability applies even through the recycling process, because the physical properties of re-converted products are virtually the same as those made from virgin PVC resin.


Fire Resistance

One of PVC major qualities that make it popular in many industries such as building products is its fire resistance. PVC is a thermoplastic made of 57% chlorine derived from common salt and when ignited, its chlorine content extinguishes the flames. PVC's ignition temperature is as high as 455°C. Because the heat released by PVC when ignited is much lower than that of the temperatures released by other plastics like PE and PP, it is less likely to spread fire to other materials, which increases the desirability in building products.

Electrical Insulation

PVC has a good dialectic strength, which means it can withstand a good amount of electric field strength without its insulation properties breaking down. When combined with PVC fire-retardant properties, this dialectic strength makes it ideal for use in communication cables, insulation tape, residential electrical cables, switch boxes and wire covering.


Oil and Chemical Resistance

Although PVC dissolves or swells in aromatic hydrocarbons, ketones and cyclic ethers, it is difficult to dissolve in other organic chemicals. It is resistant to almost all inorganic chemicals. This makes it ideal for use in gas exhaust pipes or ducts and tubes of all kinds, including medical applications.



Catherine Bowers

In 1998 Catherine Bowers began writing articles for newspapers, including "The Daily Collegian" at Pennsylvania State University. She also edited a Spanish-language journal and wrote product and patent descriptions for inventors. Bowers assists with the Gutenberg Project and graduated from Pennsylvania State with a Bachelor of Arts in English.