The benefits of tough plastics in mining are incalculable, with engineering polymers leading the way in mitigating vibration and combating the unique hazards of the enclosed environment below ground. Let’s begin with the hazards of wear-and-tear. The abrasion factor in mining is a function of the hardness of quarried matter, and that figure is compared to the resistance characteristics of screen media, a primary component in mining. Screening is the engineers answer to grading the exposed material ejected from the mine, but a lack of optimal screen material would quickly turn the process into a chaotic mess more reminiscent of a demolition project than a sophisticated mining operation.
Screens are woven to precise tolerances, slotted and configured to create a series of columns and rows, separating and effectively grading mined material into categories that range from the finest to the coarsest. When abrasion wins in this carefully balanced process, contamination, foreign bodies, spoil this harmony of segregation. Effective screens need an abrasion-resistant solution, the durability to withstand wear for 24-hours a day. Engineering plastics are proven to prevent this contamination by withstanding the scraping action of rocky aggregate, harmlessly absorbing or repelling the rough edges of any type of matter ripped from deep below the ground.
Creating an assembly of mining screens either made of or coated with polyurethane guarantees a swift end to mesh damage and the contamination phenomenon, but there are further areas where engineering plastic has found a home in mining. The extensive properties of graded polyurethane come as a result of advanced curing and fabrication techniques, chemical processes that create specially formulated variants of the polymer fated for a wide range of applications. Polyurethane sheets, lightweight and flexible, make excellent hardliners for bins and hoppers, combating impressive temperature variations and large weight capacities with ease. Harder formulations of this engineering plastic find a role as impact bars along the screen assembly, as tapered classifier shoes, and tough crossover pads where the rocky traffic causes greater rubbing and a more powerful force of abrasion.
The configuration characteristics of engineering plastics have reached the point where an industry, the mining industry for instance, can define the elasticity and hardness rating of the material, selecting an indexed variant with the necessary strength and durability to protect less hardy components. For example, polyurethane in its most elastic form can protect rubber hoses and essential cables. The most rigid form finds constant applications in screening, being installed as hose and cable ramps to provide unhindered passage for massive vehicles, even becoming the rollers and belt drives that drive the heart of the mine, keeping every stage of the mining machine moving smoothly along.
It’s worth pointing out that impact protection is a major selling point for engineering plastics, but environmental conditions also plague the components in cramped mining passages. Hot air and humidity condenses as water, and corrosion is a constant threat. Polyurethane will never rust, removing the structure compromising threat of oxidization from the concerned mind of an engineer.