The limitations of polyurethanes are chiefly three. Polyurethanes are not high temperature materials. Owing to a certain thermoplasticity in their nature, properties tend to fall off at elevated temperatures and, generally speaking, urethanes are not useful materials under heavy service loads at temperatures of around 220-225 degrees Fahrenheit.

Another limitation is that all polyurethanes are subject to hydrolysis in the presence of moisture and elevated temperatures.

The combination of the two factors creates a problem. While at low temperatures, most polyurethanes can withstand continual contact with water for many years, no polyurethane can stand prolonged contact with live steam. In between, there is a wide range of temperature and moisture conditions under which polyurethanes may, or may not be suitable for use.

Lastly, there are certain chemical environments that are unsuitable for polyurethanes. Very strong acids and bases generally are detrimental as are certain solvents, specifically the aromatic solvents such as toluene or ketones such as MEK or acetone; and esters such as ethyl acetate. (There are many solvents, on the other hand, which urethanes resist very well and are well suited for in-contact service).

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