Polystyrene products are widely used in daily life and industries due to the unique properties of the material. We can see that polystyrene is used in packaging, appliances, modeling, insulation, interiors of cars, wall panels, etc. Surveys reveal that the polystyrene products market is rising. In 2016 the market was estimated at $62.4 billion. With a steady rise in the usage of polystyrene both industrially and domestically by 2023, it is projected to be $75.1 billion with a compound annual growth rate of 3.8%. Polystyrene is used in manufacturing expanded polystyrene, extruded polystyrene, and geofoam.
Globally the construction and manufacturing industries are booming. We can see an increasing demand for automobiles and electronic products across the world, which contributes to the growth of the polystyrene market.
What properties make polystyrene preferable?
We shall explore the properties of polystyrene which makes it unique among plastics. Following are the key features of polystyrene.
- Easy to mold
- Good dimensional stability
- Good electrical properties
- Low dielectric loss
- Resistance to gamma radiation
The products that are made of polystyrene are as follows:
- Insulated containers
- Cement block fill
- Protective packaging
- Roofing insulation
- Ceiling tile
Polystyrene products and features
The usage of polystyrene can be seen in a wide range of industries. We shall understand the features of different polystyrene products.
Polystyrene is helpful in packing perishable items and sensitive components. It is the most recommended material in the food packaging industry for its unique properties. It is chosen over other materials because it can insulate better, keeps food fresh for an extended period, and uses lesser resources. It is also environmentally friendly.
Features of polystyrene that are useful for packaging are
- Compressive strength
- Excellent thermal insulation
- Free from CFCs and HCFCs
- Labor savings when compared to other materials
- Reduced handling or shipping charges due to its lightweight
- Available in different sizes, shapes, and densities
Polystyrene has good compressive strength. The moldable property of polystyrene enables it to be a perfect fit for many applications. It can be used for insulating roofs, floors, and ceilings. It is used efficiently for industrial, commercial, residential, and cold storage buildings.
Polystyrene is both energy-efficient and cost-effective. These desirable properties of polystyrene made it the architect’s personal choice for thermal insulation.
Features of polystyrene the best choice for insulation are
- Long-term insulation value
- Moisture resistant
- Temperature cycling
- Environmental impact
- Strength characteristics
- Different sizes and shapes
- Standards compliance
Polystyrene is used in various foundation insulation products. It has exceptional insulation against moisture, fungus, and decay. Insulation with polystyrene is preferred over any other material because of its long-term performance in interior and exterior foundation products. Masonry cores are filled with polystyrene loose for getting better R-values.
Different kinds of foundation insulations
- Perimeter insulation: Polystyrene is used for the prevention of heat loss from the edges. The long-term resistance of the material encourages the usage of this kind of insulation.
- Exterior foundation walls: Adhesives are used to attach polystyrene to the walls. This kind of insulation must be protected from the exterior with a protective coating. It protects waterproofing treatment also with its property of water resistance.
- Sub-Slab insulation: Concrete floors are insulated efficiently with polystyrene. This kind of insulation process prevents downward heat loss and increases the thermal capacity of the floor slab.
- Interior foundation walls: Crawl spaces and basement areas are insulated with this process. Polystyrene is used for the insulation between floor joists.
Properties of polystyrene like good water resistance, high insulation value, low cost, and lightweight make it ideal for roofing insulations. It is used in built-up roofs and single-ply membrane systems in reroofing and new construction applications.
Features that are complimenting these applications are
- Good insulation value
- Low cost
- It meets most of the fire codes
- Long term performance
- Eliminates ponding
- Vapour retarding
Polystyrene is a perfect choice for sculpting. It can bring life to the designs and ideas of sculptors. It is readily available in different sizes and forms. It is easily accessible in various states because of different ranges of density and expansion.
Here are some of the other properties which make polystyrene the choice for realizing the ideas of sculptors.
- Fast turnaround
- No limit to its size
- Easy handling
Geofoam is a material made of polystyrene. It is multi-functional. It enables construction on soft ground, retaining walls, and slope stabilization. Its great flexibility and strengths offer perfect solutions for difficult decreased situations like earthquake shocks, noise cancellation, and reduced vibration damping. Some more applications of polystyrene geofoam are road construction over poor soils, road widening, bridge abutments, bridge underfills, culverts pipelines and buried structures, compensating foundations, rail embankments, and foundations for lightweight frames.
Features of the material that helped in developing the above applications are
- Ease of construction
- Ease of transportation for reusability
- Saves time and labor
- Thermal resistance
- Water resistance
Polystyrene is used as the base material in building many products. Current research on this material can explore some more specialized applications. The scope of applications with polystyrene is expanding.