Rubber Material Selections

Rubber Materials

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Butyl rubber is a synthetic elastomer made by combining isobutylene and isoprene. It was the first rubber to be synthesized. It has good shock absorption characteristics and low moisture and gas permeability and is used in many commercial applications. This article briefly describes the material, how it is made, and some popular applications.

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EPDM rubber, which is short for Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer rubber, is a synthetic rubber compound. It has a strong resistance to hot and cold temperatures, so it is often used in roofing as a waterproofing sealant, and for other outdoor applications such as garage door seals and hoses. EPDM is also used in the automotive industry as a sealant because it is insulating and noise-reducing. It is not resistant against petroleum-based oils, mineral oils, and some other lubricants.

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Any of various chemically inert compounds containing carbon and fluorine used chiefly as lubricants, refrigerants, nonstick coatings, and formerly aerosol propellants and in making resins and plastics

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Fluorosilicone rubber, also known as FVMQ, is resistant to extreme temperatures, ranging from -100F to over 350F. It is also resistant to transmission fluids, engine oils, fire, synthetic lubricants, and ozone. Because of its ability to be used in extreme temperatures, it’s often used in the aerospace and aviation industries. It is a more expensive synthetic rubber, so it is mainly used for these specialized industries.

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HNBR is made via selective hydrogenation of the NBR butadiene groups which improves the temperature and ozone resistance considerably. HNBR is widely known for its physical strength and retention of properties after long-term exposure to heat, oil, and chemicals. HNBR has better heat resistance; oxidation resistance; tensile strength and abrasion resistance than standard nitrile (NBR). Also an excellent choice for automotive refrigerant service. Both o-rings and gaskets can be made from Nitrile materials.

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Nitrile rubber is the general term for acrylonitrile butadiene terpolymer. The acrylonitrile content of nitrile sealing compounds varies considerably (18% to 50%) and influences the physical properties of the finished material. The higher the acrylonitrile content, the better the resistance to oil and fuel. At the same time, elasticity and resistance to compression set is adversely affected. In view of these opposing realities, a compromise is often drawn, and a medium acrylonitrile content selected. Nitrile has good mechanical properties when compared with other elastomers and high wear resistance. Both o-rings and gaskets can be made from Nitrile materials.

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The name “perfluoroelastomer” is somewhat misleading. An actual perfluorinated material with high molecular weight is polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE which has the chemical formula (CF2)n. The molecular carbon chain is shielded by the chemical inertness of the large bonded fluorine atoms. Perfluoroelastomers contain an even higher amount of fluorine than FKM. They have improved resistance to high temperatures and chemicals and even withstand environments where Oxygen-Plasma are present for many hours. Certain grades have a maximum continuous service temperature of 327 °C (621 °F). They are commonly used to make O-rings that are used in applications that involve contact with hydrocarbons or highly corrosive fluids, or when a wide range of temperatures is encountered.

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ACM or simply acrylate rubber consists of a polymerized ester and a curing monomer. Ethyl acrylate rubber has a good resistance to heat and mineral oil; on the other hand butyl acrylate has a better cold flexibility. Polyacrylate has a good resistance to mineral oil, oxygen and ozone even at high temperatures. The water compatibility and cold flexibility of ACM are significantly worse than with NBR. Both o-rings and gaskets can be made from Polyacrylate materials.

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One must differentiate between polyester urethane (AU) and polyether urethane (EU). AU type urethanes exhibit better resistance to hydraulic fluids. Polyurethane elastomers, as a class, have excellent wear resistance, high tensile strength and high elasticity in comparison with any other elastomers. Permeability is good and comparable with butyl rubber. Both o-rings and gaskets can be made from EPDM materials.

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Silicone is typically used for extreme temperatures, but it does not perform well in applications that require extreme tear resistance or much movement and pressure.

Silicone rubber is an elastomer (rubber-like material) composed of silicone—itself a polymer—containing silicon together with carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Silicone rubbers are widely used in industry, and there are multiple formulations. Silicone rubbers are often one- or two-part polymers and may contain fillers to improve properties or reduce cost. Silicone rubber is generally non-reactive, stable, and resistant to extreme environments and temperatures from −55 to 300 °C (−67 to 572 °F) while still maintaining its useful properties.

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