As specialists in the crafting of non-metallic parts, one of our most frequently used materials we work with is rubber. This material has several useful properties which make it useful for our customers in a variety of industries. But there are both natural and synthetic rubber materials available; so, what are the differences between synthetic rubber vs natural rubber? Let’s talk about it:
Synthetic Rubber vs Natural Rubber: The Similarities
Before we discuss the differences between natural and synthetic rubber, let’s talk about how they are similar. Both natural and synthetic rubber have high tear resistance, good low-temperature flexibility, and high tensile strength. Tensile strength being defined as a materials resistance to breaking while under tension. Now, let’s look at the differences:
Let’s start with natural rubber. As you likely already know, natural rubber is harvested from the latex from rubber trees using a process similar to collecting sap from a maple tree to make syrup. Now, between the two, natural rubber’s tensile strength is higher than synthetic rubber, boasts higher tear resistance, and has a less potent odor than synthetic rubber. Natural rubber also resists chipping, cutting, and tearing better than its artificial counterpart. One other key characteristic is that it’s tacky, which allows it to adhere well to other materials such as steel cords. Because of the foregoing properties, natural rubber is often used for tire production.
Now, let’s take a look at the qualities of synthetic rubber. The first synthetic rubber was developed in 1909 by Fritz Hofmann and his team at Bayer labs in Elberfeld, Germany, but it came to its true prevalence when Waldo Semon at BF Goodrich developed a cheaper method for developing rubber in the 1940s, which would be instrumental for the US during World War II and the war effort.
Synthetic rubber is made from a variety of petroleum-based monomers. There are a few prevalent types of synthetics, including styrene-butadiene rubber (the most prevalent), polyisoprene, chloroprene, and nitrile rubber. Generally speaking, synthetic rubber has greater durability and longevity than natural rubber due in no small part to the materials resistance to damage from chemicals, extreme temperature, ozone, and sunlight. Other key properties include superior flexibility at low temperatures and suitability as an electrical insulator. Synthetic rubber is also easier and cheaper to produce, and the array of variations make it ideal for use in specific situations with unique requirements.
As with many other manufacturing projects, the materials you use matter! Natural rubber and the various types of synthetic rubber bring different properties, so knowing what the final application of the rubber will be crucial: it will dictate what the optimal material will be. So, if you need help deciding which type of rubber or any other material you need for your project or application, the Breiner team has the knowledge of and the experience with hundreds of types of materials. From start to finish, we will help you choose the right material for your specific needs, whether you need one part or hundreds, Breiner is on your side!