They say that necessity is the mother of invention. No truer words could have been spoken about synthetic rubber-like materials. According to Mark Michalovic from the Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) “War was usually the catalyst for sparking interest in synthetic rubber…Mechanized warfare requires lots of rubber hoses, belts, gaskets, tires, etc., for tanks, airplanes and such. In World War I, British naval blockades, however, kept Germany from getting natural rubber from Southeast Asia.” During the second World War, on the other side of the world, the United States was not happy with the growing influence that Japan was having over Southeast Asia—and this lead to the birth of the US Rubber Reserve Company (RRC). It was worry over diminishing rubber supplies that lead chemists to search for a synthetic compound that closely resembled characteristics of these this multi-purposed natural material. What they ended up producing was a similar material that offered even greater advantages and benefits.
Modern commercial mats and rubber flooring options thoroughly benefit from utilizing these synthetic materials in large part because production methods have been perfected and changed since the World War II era. Understanding how your rubber matting material was made and what benefits it offers may help you make a decision when it comes to flooring options. In regards to rubberized mats, there are two main synthetic compounds that are used—SBR (styrene-butadiene rubber) and Nitrile (acrylonitrile-butadiene rubber). Each compound offers a different range of benefits that make them applicable to distinctly different applications.
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Commercial Mats and Rubber Flooring—Available Synthetic Options
Unlike natural rubber, synthetic rubber (SR) has no specific chemical composition. The creation of SR has resulted in the construction of a much broader category of rubber-like materials—currently, there are over twenty different varieties of SR! Synthetic rubberized material has its origin in two gasses; both are the by-products of petroleum: styrene and butadiene. SRs employ the use of different “monomers” (simple molecules), which can be combined in different amounts to make many types of rubbers that all have different physical and chemical properties. Some examples of these are SBR, Nitriles, EPDM, and Neoprene.
to As previously stated, commercial mats and rubber flooring are mostly made up of SBR and Nitrile compounds, which both benefit surfacing options in different ways. To better understand what each SR has offer, here is a breakdown of each rubber matting material:
Or as it is more formally known as Styrene-Butadiene Rubber is a copolymer. A copolymer is a molecular structure that is made up of two different types of molecules which are joined in the same polymer chain—in this case styrene and butadiene. Generally, SBR rubberized mats will have a moderate resistance to oil and ozone, but it isn’t recommended that they be used for severe oil or ozone resistant applications. On the other hand, this material has great abrasion resistance and will hold up well against water
A commonly used compound in residential and commercial kitchen mats—Acrylonitrile-Butadiene Rubber (sometimes called Buna-N) offers great resistance to petroleum products, animal grease, and oils. Like SBR, Nitrile is also a copolymer that joins acrylonitrile and butadiene. Nitrile offers great tear and abrasion resistance, which makes it a great flooring option for heavy-duty environments. With moderate ozone and weather resistance, commercial mats and rubber flooring that utilizes this compound is better suited for indoor use.
Most rubber matting material that have been chemically treated and produced—such as SRs, have a lot to offer residential, commercial, and industry locations. Even with mild resistance to oils, ozone, and other factors—these rubberized mats are a lot stronger than their natural predecessors. These rubber-like materials offer a purer product that is free of contaminants, which may be more readily found inside of natural rubber. The creation of these synthetic options allows for the production of heavy-duty options and wider ranging applications.