Rubber materials are perhaps the most common materials we work with at Breiner. Many times, our customers know the part they need, but what kind of material it needs to be is not so obvious because of the wide variety of kinds of rubber.
So, which kind do you choose? When it comes to rubber there isn’t a “superior rubber material” or “inferior rubber material.” Rather, every different kind has advantages, disadvantages, strengths and weaknesses that may make them more suited for certain situations.
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Here are some important things to know about five of the most common rubber materials: Neoprene, Nitrile, Silicone, EPDM and Viton.
Neoprene was the first mass-produced synthetic rubber and is considered to be one of the best general-purpose choices in rubber materials because of its versatility for both indoor and outdoor applications. Temperature range and tensile strength make it useful for automotive, refrigeration and HVAC applications.
While Neoprene does many things well, there are other kinds of rubber material that may be more specialized and therefore appropriate for certain applications.
Nitrile (also known as Buna-N) is a copolymer of butadiene and acrylonitrile and one of the strongest rubber materials in applications involving oil and fuel. Add on top of that Nitrile’s superior resistance to heat makes it an ideal choice pumping fuel and oil in industrial and automotive settings.
Despite is strength against fuel and oil, it is important to note that Nitrile’s largest downfall is its weakness against oxygen, ozone and sunlight. While Nitrile also has decent cold resistance, it is inferior to natural rubbers which may cause you to look elsewhere.
When it comes to extreme conditions, Silicone is the top pick. Silicone can operate normally in a temperature range as drastic as -100C (-150F) to +250C (+480F), far more than you can expect from many other rubber materials. Additionally, Silicone has solid resistances to electricity and water, as well as a long service life.
Silicone may perform expertly under extreme weather or temperature, but the one area that Silicone lacks is in tensile and tear resistance. Higher strength Silicone has been developed, but at the end of the day it’s tensile resistance is still relatively low. Silicone is recommended primarily for applications in extreme conditions.
EPDM (which stands for Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomers) is an extremely high-density synthetic rubber material that is versatile and capable of serving several roles for outdoor applications. EPDM’s density boasts strong resistance to weather aging, ozone, sunlight, water, heat, phosphate, electricity as well as tensile strength. These properties make EPDM a slightly less expensive alternative to Silicone.
EPDM is also useful for use with automotive. However, it has a tendency to swell when in the presence of petroleum, oils and similar solvents and should, therefore, be used with caution when used for these purposes.
Introduced over 60 years ago to the aerospace industry, Viton is a high-performance rubber material that is ideal for high-temperature applications. Viton can withstand temperatures upwards of +260C (+500F), similar to Silicone. Since it’s introduction, Viton has spread to use in the automotive, chemical and fluid power industries as a reliable product for seals, hoses and gaskets because of its heat and corrosive resistance.
The strength of Viton is undeniable, but it does come with a higher price tag than other high-temperature resistant rubber materials. However, in applications with extreme heat, Viton is often worthy of the price tag.
Unsure of which material best suits your needs? Visit our materials selection guide or give us a call. We are happy to help!