Elastomers and rubber compounds are widely used in industry throughout the world. From natural latex rubber to the latest innovations in fluorosilicates and TPEs.
The history of rubber
But these materials aren’t new to us. Rubber itself has been around for thousands of years although it only came to Europe in the sixteenth century when the Spanish became fascinated by a ball that would bounce. In the mid-seventeen hundreds, London based Joseph Priestley also discovered that you could remove pencil marks using a piece of rubber, hence the name which we all know today. Because of these rather random uses, rubber remained somewhat of a novelty until the mid-eighteen hundreds when Charles Goodyear discovered a process that would convert rubber into a hard, durable material, known as Vulcanisation. Suddenly this novelty product had a whole new lease of life. Let’s take a look at how rubber compounds and elastomers are made and used today?
Categories and uses of rubber compounds and elastomers
These products are used both as the materials for finished products and as moulds for other finished products. Rubber mouldings are widely used in a number of industries, one such being automotive. Here rubber is used for everything from tyres, to suspension components and wiper blades.
There are three moulding processes; injection, compression and transfer. Each has its own benefits depending on the finished item and quantity required.
Specialist companies such as http://www.meadex.co.uk/ provide bespoke injection moulding services. If you’re looking for a supplier it’s worth checking whether they have ISO accreditation. The International Organisation for Standardisation brings together experts in their fields to prepare standard guidelines for best practice, and certification ensures your supplier will provide you with products of the highest quality and which are fit for purpose.
During the injection moulding process, the rubber or elastomer is injected into the mould tool using a syringe. It is generally used for high volume production and when using materials such as LSR (liquid silicone rubber).
Compression moulding is when a slug of rubber is placed into the tool and the tool is then closed to exert pressure to compress the raw material into the required shape. It is most commonly used when the raw material is a black rubber and for lower volume runs. Transfer moulding is a variation of compression moulding.