A synthetic rubber is any type of man-made elastomer that is mainly derived from petroleum. There is a wide variety of synthetic rubber products available, all created through different manufacturing processes to provide versatile alternatives to natural rubber. Synthetic rubber products are used in many different applications worldwide, with the most common uses being in the industrial and automotive sectors. There are many different types of synthetic rubber that are available on the market. Each elastomer has its own unique traits that make them unique, and Rubber-Cal makes it a point to stock a variety of synthetic elastomers that have the largest market demand. Unlike organic rubber products, synthetic rubber material does not have a carbon-to-carbon backbone that can leave it susceptible to ozone, UV, heat and other ageing factors. Synthetic rubber also generally comes with good levels of chemical and temperature resistance, with specific degrees varying according to the type of elastomer.
History of Synthetic Rubber
The development of synthetic rubber coincided with the rapid advance of industrialization across the world. One of the earliest recorded developments of synthetic elastomers occurred in 1879, when the French chemist Gustave Bouchardat synthesized a form of rubber using isoprene. This process was later refined in 1909 by a German team of chemists with the German company Bayer. At this time, however, the development of synthetic rubber was considered something of a leisurely scientific curiosity. It was at the during World War II, that the development of synthetic rubber products skyrocketed. Germans were cut off from Natural Rubber supplies of South America and the Hitler ware machine required a large quantity of rubber parts. The German Scientist develop Buna which is still in use today. Today, there are many varieties of synthetic rubber products available on the market for a diverse range of applications. In addition to nitrile and neoprene elastomers, Rubber-Cal inventories various other synthetic elastomers such as SBR, EPDM, Santoprene, and silicone.
Can Synthetic Rubber Replace Natural Rubber?
Synthetic elastomers can replace natural rubber as well as provide better and more physical and chemical properties. The two World Wars drove home the need for synthetic rubber alternatives to natural rubber. The nature of war and society had become more mechanized and complex. It required materials such as rubbers that could last longer in the face of oils, chemicals, and high temperatures. Natural rubber has many excellent attributes, but such resistance is not one of its strengths. Developing synthetic rubber for wider use provided an opportunity to give the material specific desirable properties.
1. Types of Synthetic Rubber
We offer a variety of types of synthetic rubber including: Neoprene, Nitrile, Silicone, EPDM, SBR, and thermoplastic materials like Santoprene. Each synthetic rubber offers a unique characteristic and has been developed by industry for specific types of use. For example, silicones, as well as other synthetic rubber products, excel in temperature extremes, being able to operate normally within a range of -100° C to +300° C. Synthetic rubber material offers superior properties such as elongation, tear strength, compression set, fire resistance and, in some cases, tensile strength that are superior to that of natural rubber products.
A very popular type of synthetic rubber is silicone. Silicone rubber comes in several different forms. Rubber-Cal brings to the market those silicone grades that are the most widely used. We offer regular commercial grade silicone, a higher end premium grade silicone, a translucent silicone, and an FDA compliant silicone. A common feature between all these silicone grades is that they exhibit superior levels of temperature resistance.
EPDM rubber is another popular synthetic rubber material. The material’s common trait is an enhanced degree of resistance against outdoor weather conditions. This synthetic rubber endures in the presence of moisture, ozone and UV rays, as well as a range of chemicals. EPDM rubber has a medium durometer offering excellent pliability and elasticity.
SBR stands for Styrene Butadiene Rubber. It is a tough synthetic rubber that is often put to use in vehicle tires because of its excellent abrasion resistance qualities. Tires need to be able to handle harsh conditions over their lifetime, including rough and abrasive road surfaces and extreme outdoor weathering, including constant UV exposure. Where natural rubber falters, a synthetic rubber such as SBR is designed to excel. The durable nature of SBR allows it to be used in synthetic rubber products which require a higher degree of toughness.
1(d). Nitrile and Neoprene
Nitrile, is a synthetic rubber material refined by German chemists between the two World Wars. Nitrile was developed to provide a rubber with superior oil and grease resistance. Originally earmarked for war-time automotive use in vehicles like jeeps, tanks and planes, such types of synthetic rubber have become widely used in a range of applications today. An alternative synthetic rubber to nitrile is neoprene. Neoprene rubber was actually developed earlier than nitrile. It was synthesized by DuPont chemical company in 1930 and went commercial by 1939. At first it was not as mass-produced as nitrile rubber because of high manufacturing costs and an overpowering odor on the elastomer itself, but refinements over time eliminated these problems. This synthetic rubber material can come in hard and soft varieties and has a moderate degree of resistance to oil and ozone.
Where is Synthetic Rubber Used?
Synthetic rubber can be used in a wide variety of applications ranging from everyday life to industrial settings. Compared to natural rubber, synthetic materials are more durable and will have a much longer life. Due to its added strengths and resilience, synthetic rubber products can be used in more abrasive and harsh settings and conditions. It is resistant to chemicals, extreme high and low temperatures and the harsh conditions of changing weather patterns allowing them to used almost anywhere, both indoors and outdoors.
Recent years have seen the rise of new thermoplastic materials. Thermoplastics are a mix of synthetic rubber and plastics. We stock a thermoplastic material known as Santoprene. It was developed in 1977 by Monsanto Company and is now owned by Exxon Mobil. It has seen wide use in commercial and industrial applications. Santoprene material combines natural rubber’s flexibility with the enhanced levels of chemical resistance seen in synthetic rubber. As a bonus to the eco-conscious consumer, Santoprene is one of the few thermoplastic materials that can be recycled.
Ever since the arrival of the first synthetic rubber products on the market, the use and development of various types of synthetic rubber has exploded. We make use of them every day in ways we often do not recognize. There are many different types of synthetic elastomers available on the market, but Rubber-Cal offers the most popular and widely-used among them. Whether your application requires superior levels of durability, oil, chemical, or weathering resistance, look no further than synthetic rubber. Our menu of man-made rubbers includes nitrile, neoprene, silicone, EPDM, SBR and Santoprene. Such synthetic rubber products are manufactured specifically to deal with certain high-stress environments. This means that synthetic elastomers often provide the best material for any given job, because they have been designed to meet its needs.