EPDM rubber material is not a plastic, but rather a synthetic elastomer produced by vulcanizing ethylene, propylene, and diene monomers together to create a solid material. EPDM rubber sheets are highly valued for their excellent resistance to harsh UV rays, ozone, and oxidation. As the superior weather resistant rubber, EPDM products are commonly used in outdoor industrial settings as they are also highly resistant to most industrial chemical solvents. In addition, as an elastomer EPDM is pliable and extremely flexible. EPDM, therefore, is a strong and resilient material that retains a high degree of tear resistance. Furthermore, unlike plastic, EPDM rubber material is able to last longer in outdoor environments without deteriorating or fading in color.
1. Is EPDM Plastic or Rubber?
EPDM is a rubber and not a plastic due to its excellent flexibility and of course its material makeup. In fact, EPDM is a synthetic rubber that is derived from a blend of chemical compounds ethylene, propylene, and diene monomers. By definition, rubber “is an elastic material that is either obtained from rubber plants or synthesized using petroleum oil” (pediaa.com). Contrastingly, plastics are “a polymer material that has the ability to be molded and shaped by the application of heat and pressure”. Flexible EPDM is a pliable rubber variation that is able to bend to the shape of the application without tearing or breaking. Additionally, EPDM rubber material is much more versatile than plastics due to its excellent outdoor properties. EPDM is able to work well outdoors whereas plastics will become damaged when exposed to UV rays. For instance, “Ultraviolet (UV) light is probably the most damaging environments for plastics…While many pure plastics cannot absorb UV radiation, the presence of catalyst residues and other impurities will often act as receptors, causing degradation”.
What is Plastic?
Plastic is a hard material that does not retain the same flexibility and pliability as rubber. Some plastics can soften when heated, but others never often once they have completed their manufacturing process. Plastics are “produced by the conversion of natural products or by the synthesis from primary chemicals generally coming from oil, natural gas, or coal” (plastics.americanchemistry.com). It is also considered a “polymeric material that has the capability of being molded or shaped, usually by the applications of heat and pressure. This property of plasticity, often found in combination with other special properties such as low density, low electrical conductivity, transparency, and toughness, allows plastics to be made into a great variety of products” (Britannica.com). Plastics are designed to be resilient material that will offer long life in applications; however, its long lifespan may cause environmental issues when it is disposed. Compared to natural rubber and EPDM rubber material, plastics are not a biodegradable material and actually cause serious consequences for the environment. For example, “Plastics are very long-lived products that could potentially have service over decades, and yet our main use of these lightweight, inexpensive materials are as single-use items that will go to the garbage dump within a year, where they’ll persist for centuries” (ehn.org). Although plastics have excellent strength and durability, it is not a flexible or pliable material, and its long life is detrimental to the environment.
2. Is EPDM a Rubber?
EPDM is a synthetic rubber that is known for its excellent resistance to weathering. EPDM rubber material is highly valued for being a weather resistant rubber that stands up well against UV rays, ozone, moisture, and oxidation. These properties are given to EPDM rubber material through the chemical compounds used in its production. For instance, “EPDM is the designation given for a saturated polymer chain of the polymethylene type, consisting of ethylene, propylene, and diene. It has been and continues to be one of the most widely used and rapidly growing synthetic rubbers” (meridian.allenpress.com). As a synthetic rubber, EPDM rubber material has better physical strength and durability than natural rubber. EPDM rubber sheets are considered hard materials and are offered with a durometer rating of 60A. In addition, as an elastomer, flexible EPDM is able to expand up to 300% its original size and has a high tensile strength of 725 PSI.
Is EPDM Environmentally Friendly?
Because EPDM is derived from petroleum, it is not an environmentally-friendly material. However, EPDM is still composed of certain substances which do biodegrade. For example, one of the raw materials that is key to producing EPDM, ethylene, is derived from ethanol. Because ethanol is sourced from sugarcane, this component of EPDM is in fact biodegradable. Nonetheless, this does not make EPDM an environmentally-friendly product. Although some elements of this material’s constructions are environmentally friendly, on the whole, EPDM is non-biodegradable. Since the primary chemical used in the production of EPDM rubber sheets is petroleum-based, the EPDM rubber material will not deteriorate naturally in the environment. While this fact may unfortunately offput some consumers, it is sometimes unavoidable. Of all the rubbers, the EPDM rubber material is one of the best for withstanding weathering. Its superlative resistances to UV-rays, ozone, and oxygen make it irreplaceable in certain outdoor applications. Thus, even though it is a non-biodegradable material, EPDM nonetheless deserves consideration for its unmatched resistances to all kinds of abrasive, outdoor elements.
How Long Does EPDM Rubber Last?
EPDM rubber has excellent outdoor properties and is designed to last for years in the elements before deteriorating or failing in an application. EPDM rubber material is the superior outdoor rubber that is able to stand up extremely well against harsh environmental factors such as UV rays, ozone, and oxidation. This allows for longer life in the outdoor compared to other materials, such as natural rubber, nitrile, or plastic, that can be attacked by damaging environmental factors. Due to these properties, EPDM products are able to provide a long-lasting and reliable application in outdoor industrial settings. As a case in point, as a weather resistant rubber, EPDM rubber material is popularly used in roofing applications due to its excellent moisture resistance and environmental resistance properties. In addition to its superior outdoor resistance properties, EPDM rubber sheets are physically resilient materials that retain high tensile strength, low compression set, and a wide operating temperature range which gives it outstanding tear-resistance. This weather resistant rubber has a working temperature range of -40 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit allowing it to be used in applications involving extreme temperatures without melting or failing. Flexible EPDM rubber will provide a long-lasting and durable application that is made to last for years to come even in the face of weather, moisture, heat, and extreme pulling or compressive pressure.
Is EPDM Better than Felt?
EPDM is better than felt due to its superior moisture resistance and long life; however, both EPDM and felt are designed for similar applications, such as roofing, because of their excellent resistance to damaging environmental forces. Felt “is a nonwoven thick fabric made by compressing and felting different types of fibers using techniques that involve heat, moisture, and pressure. Layers of fibers are kept together to achieve the wanted thickness and then they are matted/entangled/interlocked to make the fabric you call ‘felt’” (sewguide.com). Both EPDM rubber material and felt are well known roofing materials that retain similar properties, including thermal and sound insulation capabilities as well as flexibility. For instance, felt “naturally repels soiling…and retains thermal and acoustic insulation properties” (filzfelt.com). Despite these durable resistance properties, EPDM rubber material is the better choice in material for long-term applications. Roofing is an example of long-term applications that experience heavy wear and tear brought on by the environment. As a weather resistant rubber, EPDM rubber material will offer longer life, easier installation, and enhanced durability in outdoor environments (roofingtoday.co.uk). EPDM rubber sheets are the ideal material for outdoor settings and will provide a long-lasting and resilient application than felt.
EPDM rubber sheets are the ideal weather resistant rubber material for outdoor industrial use. Unlike plastic, EPDM rubber material is flexible and pliable, allowing it to be stretched or compressed according to the application. EPDM products are valued in industrial settings due to their resistance to damaging environmental factors as well as its excellent resistance to chemicals, abrasive temperatures, and impacts. As a synthetic elastomer, EPDM rubber material is able to last longer in abrasive conditions compared to other materials, such as plastic or felt. Overall, EPDM rubber material is the superior weather resistant rubber that is able to offer long life in outdoor environments and abrasive industrial settings.