Sulfone polymers are high-performance thermoplastics that have SO2 or sulfone moiety linkages. They are high-heat amorphous thermoplastics that offer more toughness, strength, and hydrolytic stability than other transparent plastics. Moreover, they can withstand prolonged exposure to water, chemicals, and temperature extremes, handling a broad range of temperatures from -40°C to 204°C. Sulfone polymers’ favorable combustion characteristics—inherent flame retardance, low smoke emission, and chemical resistance—have also been recognized as beneficial in meeting stringent safety requirements. Sulfone polymers also have relatively high melt viscosities under processing conditions that cause parts to be molded with the same physical properties. Three types of sulfone polymers are commercially available. They are commonly known as polysulfone (PSU), polyethersulfone (PESU), and polyphenylsulfone (PPSU).
Heat resistance is the outstanding performance characteristic of the sulfones. Service temperature is limited by heat-deflection temperature, which ranges from 345 to 400°F. A high percentage of physical, mechanical, and electrical properties is maintained at elevated temperatures, within limits defined by the heat-deflection temperatures. The strength and stiffness of PSU and PES are virtually unaffected up to their glass-transition temperature. For example, the flexural modulus of molded parts remains above 300,000 psi at service temperatures as high as 320T. Even after prolonged exposure to such temperatures, the resins do not discolor or degrade. Thermal stability and oxidation resistance are excellent at service temperatures well.
Heat aging of the polymers increases tensile strength, beat-deflection temperature, and modulus of elasticity appreciably. However, prolonged heat aging (about a year) decreases toughness, tensile strength, and elongation. Unnotched specimens of the sulfones are extremely tough and do not break in standard impact tests. The continuous service temperature limit (CSTL) for PSU is 320°F, and 355 ° F for PES. With respect to flammability, PES is rated V-0 per UL 94, and PSU is rated at V0 （Rating@4.5mm thickness）.
Electrical insulating properties are generally in the mid-range among those of other thermoplastics, and they change little after heat aging at the recommended service temperatures. Dissipation factor and dielectric constant - and thus, loss factor - are not affected significantly by increased temperature or frequency.
Creep of the sulfones, compared with that of other thermoplastics is exceptionally low at elevated temperatures and under continuous load. For example, creep at 210°F is less than that of acetal or heat-resistant ABS at room temperature. This excellent dimensional stability qualifies the sulfone resins for precision-molded parts.
The hydrolytic stability of these resins makes them resistant to water absorption in aqueous acidic and alkaline environments. The combination of hydrolytic stability and heat resistance result in exceptional resistance to boiling water and steam, even under autoclave pressures and cyclic exposure of hot-to-cold and wet-to-dry. PES resins have excellent resistance to hot lubricants, engine fuels and radiator fluids, and they are resistant to gasoline. The aromatic resins are also resistant to aqueous inorganic acids, organic acids, alkalis, aliphatic hydrocarbons, alcohols, and most cleaners and sterilizing agents.
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