3 Ways Rubber Has Remained an Essential Manufacturing Material for So Long

(Credit: 3 Ways Rubber Has Remained an Essential Manufacturing Material for So Long) 3 Ways Rubber Has Remained an Essential Manufacturing Material for So Long
December 24
12:16 PM 2020

Since 1839 when Charles Goodyear discovered the power of natural rubber, this vital product has become essential in many varied industries, including manufacturing and automotive. 

When Goodyear dropped rubber and sulfur on a hot stove, resulting in a charred substance resembling leather while retaining its plasticity and elasticity, he changed the course of manufacturing forever. The refined process of Goodyear's accidental discovery is called "vulcanization," and it transformed what was once white sap from the rainforest's Hevea tree into a crucial product for the foreseeable future.

People might wonder why and how rubber has remained an essential manufacturing material for so long. Here are three primary reasons to answer that question. 

1. Rubber Molding 

Rubber molding is a process that involves transforming uncured rubber, or an elastomer, into a usable and beneficial product. Several techniques develop a wide array of rubber products for everyday use for individuals and businesses, including automotive, medical technology, aerospace, aviation and more.

There are three main rubber molding methods: 

  • Rubber compression molding involves inserting a distinct amount of rubber into the mold cavity before compressing it into its shape. 

  • Rubber injection molding takes uncured rubber in a liquid state and injects it into a mold. 

  • Rubber transfer molding takes the uncured rubber compound and places it in the "pot" of the mold, then forces it through the aperture and into the cavity to create a specific product. 

2. 4 Vital Steps for Processing Rubber 

The ability to alter the shapes of rubber has allowed it to become so useful in multiple industries. There are four core processing approaches

  • Mastication and softening techniques focus on natural reclaimed and recycled rubber or synthetic rubber and mix rubber products and fiber. This mixture results in a soft rubber that, when applied, provides tensile strength, hardness and durability. Masticated rubber products are frequently used in trucking, mining and railroad applications. 

  • Mixing uses machines similar to those used in mastication, blending materials including oils, protective chemicals and fillers with the base elastomer. The resulting sheets come out coated with a soap-like substance to prevent sticking until ready to use. 

  • Shaping rubber mixtures is done through extrusion, resulting in tubing, tire treads and wire coverings. Some manufacturers also use injection molds to shape the rubber mixture, forcing it through a mold chamber's channels to achieve the desired shape. 

  • Curing takes place in pressurized steel molds, heated by electricity or steam. The temperatures needed to cure rubber are at least 320 degrees Fahrenheit for several minutes to achieve the desired shape. 

3. High Resistance to Heat and Swell 

Many rubber products that feature high fluorine grades, like fluorocarbon, offer higher resistance to swell in oxygenated fuel blends, which is vital in industries including aviation and automotive. These industries work in high temperature and low compression set applications, and face chemical exposure situations that rely on premier rubber products for optimal performance and safety. 

Rubber Continues to Adapt to Society's Needs 

Rubber remains a highly versatile and adaptable substance. The world's need for rubber gloves amid the coronavirus pandemic offers one more example of rubber products' vital nature. Manufacturers can process and shape rubber as needed and use it in a broad range of heating conditions to achieve their desired results.

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