When to Use Different Kinds of Rubber Materials
As a trusted supplier of non-metallic parts, RubberMill is knowledgeable in rubber types. The components we produce, such as gaskets and seals, insulation parts, and molded parts, can all be made from a variety of high-quality rubber materials. This blog post will explain the different types of rubber and when they should be used for various applications.
Properties of Rubber
Rubber comes in several variations, each with its own unique properties. However, each distinct rubber type also shares common characteristics, including:
- Elasticity: Rubber materials all feature a molecular structure that allows them to return to their original shape after being stretched or compressed. Since rubber molecules are all attached to one another, they return to their original position.
- Thermal contraction: Rubber contracts when heated and returns to its original state after the heat is removed. This is opposite to most other types of materials that expand when heated.
- Durability: Rubbers resist degradation and damage well and are highly durable in the face of tearing and abrasive forces, water, low temperatures, and impacts.
What Are the Different Kinds of Rubber Materials and When Should You Use Them?
There are numerous types of rubber, each best suited for different applications:
- Ethylene propylene (EPDM, EP, BA, DA): EPDM has quickly become a popular general-purpose elastomer. It is highly resistant to weathering, oxygen, steam, ozone, and diluted acids. EPDM is non-oil resistant and is widely used to produce everything from door and window seals to roofing materials, pipe gaskets, seals, rubber hoses, and much more. It has an estimated shelf life of 5-10 years.
- Natural rubber (NR, IR, AA): Also known as polyisoprene, natural rubber was the first commercially available rubber type. It is naturally produced from the Hevea Brasiliensis tree and is mainly harvested in Indonesia, China, India, and Thailand. Natural rubber is used to produce automobile tires, bumpers, vibration mounts, gaskets, and much more. It has an estimated shelf life of 3-5 years.
- Styrene butadiene rubber (SBR, BR, AA, BA): Initially developed during the 1930s, SBR was widely used during World War II and is currently produced more than any other type of synthetic rubber. It is used to make footwear, clothing, toys, tires, and more. It has a shelf life of 3-5 years.
- Butyl (IIR, AA, BA, CA): First commercialized in 1943, Butyl rubbers are highly impermeable to gases and air and also feature excellent ozone and oxidation resistance. Since they have high energy absorption properties, they are used to produce inner tubes, shock absorbers, and seals. Butyl has an estimated shelf life of 5-10 years.
- Nitrile (NBR, BF, BG, BK): Initially developed in Germany for gasoline and oil-related applications, Nitrile is a synthetic rubber with excellent resistance to aromatic hydrocarbons. It is used in oil and grease seals, washers, check valve balls, and numerous other applications. It has an estimated shelf life of 3-5 years.
- Neoprene/chloroprene (CR, BC, BE): First developed in 1932, Neoprene is a rubber-like material that is resistant to ozone, oil, and low temperatures. It is also self-extinguishing. Neoprene is used in the production of seals, o-rings, grommets, bushings, and other components. It has a shelf life of 5-10 years.
- Urethane (AU, EU, BG): Urethane elastomers are available as both solid millable gums and liquid castable materials. They are a combination of either polyethers or polyesters and diisocyanates. Urethanes feature excellent abrasion resistance, load-bearing capacity, and tensile strength. They are also highly resistant to oils and solvents. Urethane is used to produce solid tires, wheels, shock pads, valve balls, and other components. It has an estimated shelf life of 5-10 years.
- Silicone: Initially patented in 1944, silicone is easily extruded, calendared, molded, and cast into various shapes. It displays excellent thermal stability up to 500 °F and is also resistant to oxygen, sunlight, and ozone. Silicone offers good electrical insulation and features low toxicity as well as flexible and anti-stick properties. Its use is growing in the automotive, medical, and industrial industries, and it is currently used to produce tubing, spark plug caps, door seals, valve balls, bellows, and more. Its shelf life is up typically up to 20 years.
- Viton®/fluorinated hydrocarbon (FKM, HK): Viton is a very expensive, high-performance elastomer. It is used in applications that require extreme oil, heat, and solvent resistance. Viton is widely used to manufacture components for the aerospace, automotive, and chemical processing industries, such as o-rings, gaskets, and seals. It is a registered trademark of Dupont Performance Elastomers and features a shelf life of up to 20 years.
- Butadiene (BR, AA): The second most commonly used synthetic rubber after SBR, Butadiene is the most resilient of all elastomers and exhibits excellent flexibility in low temperatures. It is used with other types of rubber as a blend to manufacture tires and is also used to produce golf balls, vibration mounts, and other molded industrial products. It has a shelf life of 3-5 years.
Diecut and Molded Rubber Parts From RubberMill Inc.
Rubber is used to produce components for nearly every industry. The numerous rubber types available feature unique characteristics that enhance their suitability for diverse applications. RubberMill Inc. has over 30 years of experience delivering high-quality rubber components, and we can help you identify the most suitable material for your application.