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PVC in consumer goods

Of the PVC produced by Western European manufacturers in 1998, around six per cent was used in consumer goods. New uses are being found all the time because the versatility of PVC allows it to compete with many materials such as metal, wood and glass in our everyday lives.

A good example of how PVC can be substituted for other materials is found in the clothing industry, where it is increasingly being used as a substitute for leather. Not only are leather-like PVC coated fabrics cheaper to produce, but they also offer great flexibility to fashion designers.

The overall effect is that stylish clothing from the catwalk can be brought to the high-street at an affordable price and without the environmental or ethical impacts sometimes associated with leather.

PVC is popular with manufacturers because it is:

  • easy to use and convert into many different forms;
  • strong and durable but light weight;
  • waterproof and resistant to attack by chemicals
  • relatively low energy demand in manufacture and longevity in service, making it a cost effective material in both economic and environmental terms;
  • an innovative material, enabling designers to improve products and create new ones;
  • cost competitive, allowing the production of good quality goods at a reasonable price;

PVC Consumer goods applications
Many different types of consumer goods are made from PVC or contain PVC, including:

Both rigid and flexible PVC are used to good effect in modern furniture design. Rigid PVC is used for light shades, handles and panels. Flexible PVC is used for coverings, floorings, inflatable couches and even inflatable chairs! Kitchen and bathroom furniture is often protected against water by a thin PVC film.

PVC is used in the soles and uppers of modern shoes. It provides a synthetic alternative to traditional leather in formal shoes, often allowing for more cost-effective production and innovative styles through its capacity to be moulded into shape. Modern sports shoes also make extensive use of PVC to provide shock absorbance, support and strength in demanding use environments.

Credit cards
PVC is the most common material for credit, debit and phone cards. It is tough, flexible, durable, cost effective to produce and easy to print on. As a thermoplastic, numbers can easily be imprinted on the cards with the application of heat.

Sports equipment
It is not only sports shoes that use PVC. The material is also employed as coverings, coatings and components in sports equipment and clothing. It is used in sports ranging from football and rugby through to golf and sailing.

Modern sports shoes also make extensive use of PVC to provide shock absorbance, support and strength in demanding use environments

The functional qualities of PVC make it a great material for protective clothing outdoors. It has long been the material of choice for children's rainwear, but is also put through more demanding tests through its use in protective work-wear. At the other end of the clothing industry, PVC has played an important role in fashion design for many years. From its early applications in the 1960s, PVC has grown into one of the most fashionable materials to make a regular appearance at major fashion shows around the world.

The toughness and durability of PVC make it an excellent material from which to make bags and luggage. With many different colours and material effects available, PVC provides the material for bags suitable for every environment, from the school playground to the beach.

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