9 Different Types of Rubber
Rubber is a particularly versatile material used across a wide variety of applications. From rubber found naturally in nature through to synthetic rubbers, each has its own advantages and disadvantages depending on how you want to use it.
We all know that rubber materials are flexible – in terms of their elastic properties but also due to chemical properties that allow synthetic rubber to combine the top properties of natural rubber with additional benefits through manufacture.
Here, we will explore different types of rubber, including those most commonly used by Checkmate.
Natural rubber, also called isoprene, is derived from the latex sap present in the Hevea brasiliensis tree (known as the Pará rubber tree). Natural rubber has high tear and tensile strength, resistance to abrasion and fatigue, and is extremely resilient. On the downside, it is only moderately resistant to damage from light, heat, and ozone. Common uses include:
- Hoses and tubing
- Roofing and flooring
Natural rubber’s strength and resilience also makes it ideal for use in hovercraft skirts, peristaltic hoses and fabrications.
Neoprene – also known as chloroprene – is moderately resistant to weather, burning, corrosion and petroleum oils, and therefore is useful in particular sealing applications in place of many other materials. It is the perfect base material for coatings and adhesives, and is able to maintain great mechanical properties across a range of temperatures. Common uses include:
- Window and door seals
- High-pressure gaskets
- Seals i.e. in air conditioner and refrigeration units
Silicone (polysiloxane) is malleable and resistant to extreme temperatures and radiation, and also known for its biocompatibility. Available in both liquid and solid forms, it performs well with water, steam, or petroleum fluids, and can operate across an extensive temperature range. Due to its poor tensile strength and tear resistance, it is best suited to static applications rather than dynamic ones. Uses span applications across biocompatibility-dependent products and chemical resistant requirements, including:
- Respiratory masks
- Food containers and instruments
- Baby care items
- Cosmetic applicators
- Sealants and lubricants
Nitrile rubber – also known as NBR or Buna-N – has high resistance to petroleum-based oils, water, alcohols, and even hydraulic fluids. It has a wide temperature range and can maintain its structural integrity better than silicone, lending it well to medical applications as it also lacks the allergenic proteins present in latex-based rubbers. It is commonly used in:
- Surgical gloves
- Medical products
- Gaskets and seals
Due to its heat and chemical resistant properties, it is also often used in the lining of peristaltic hoses and fabrications.
Polychloroprene is ideal for applications subject to weathering and is used in many marine applications here at Checkmate, including high pressure seals and couplings used on submarines and naval vessels.
Ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) rubber is a versatile synthetic rubber offering excellent durability, extreme temperature and weather resistance, alongside low compression set and low electrical conductivity. It is a useful cost-effective alternative to silicone, and particularly suitable for use in outdoor products and parts. Common applications include:
- Electrical insulation
- Roofing sealants
- Hoses and seals
Styrene-Butadiene Rubber (SBR)
Styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) is a synthetic rubber offering good resistance to abrasion, high tensile and impact strength, and good resilience. However, it does not offer good resistance to sunlight, weather, oils or steam. Main uses include:
- Cutting boards
- Hydraulic brake system seals
- Shoe soles
Butyl rubber offers high levels of shock absorption, along with great flexibility. It is the perfect material for manufacture of airtight components and, in its liquid form, is often used as an additive in fuels. However, during manufacture it has a tendency to trap air and blister. Common application include:
- Inner tubes and sealants
- Sports balls
- Tank liners
Its high gas impermeability and flexibility makes it an excellent material for bladders. We have a specially developed version for higher temperatures applications.
Fluorosilicone (FVMQ) is particularly resistant to extreme temperatures and chemicals. It is an ideal rubber for use in aircraft fuel systems and other specialised industry applications.
At Checkmate Flexible Engineering, we incorporate highly developed rubber into our peristaltic hoses, hovercraft skirts, dunnage bags, bladders, mouldings, and fabrications. Please contact us to discuss this and the full range of other materials we can offer you.