Polyvinyl chloride, commonly abbreviated to PVC, is the third most widely produced plastic after polyethylene and polypropylene. Polyvinyl chloride is produced by polymerization of the monomer vinyl chloride.
PVC is widely used in construction because it is durable and easily worked. It can be made softer and more flexible by the addition of plasticizers. In this form, it is used in clothing and upholstery, electrical cable insulation, inflatable products, and many applications in which it replaces rubber.
PVC's biological and chemical resistance and workability have resulted in its use in a wide variety of applications. It is used for sewerage pipes and other pipe applications where cost or vulnerability to corrosion limits the use of metal. With the addition of impact modifiers and stabilizers, it has become a popular material for window- and door frames. By adding plasticizers, it can become flexible enough to be used in cabling applications as a wire insulator.
+ Good chemical resistance (including to chlorine)
+ Hydrolysis-resistant (resistant to hot water and steam)
+ UV radiation-resistant
+ Flame-retardant and antistatic versions available
+ Food-compliant versions available
+ Reasonable price
- Low flexibility at low temperatures
- Limited abrasion resistance
- Limited resistance to solvents, oil and grease
- Migration of plasticizers (except food-grade PVC)
- Problematic disposal (burning PVC generates hydrochloric acid)