Rules of Thumb

6 Standard Rubber Materials and What You Need to Know About Them

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Every successful sealing solution is supported by the right material for the application. Each rubber material has specific strengths and weaknesses that make it an optimal choice for some applications, while failing in others.

Apple Rubber offers six standard rubber materials to choose from that are commonly used throughout a wide range of industries. Take a closer look at some of the important characteristics of each:

1. Chloroprene

Chloroprene, also known as Neoprene, is one of the earliest synthetic rubber materials to be developed as an oil-resistant substitute for natural rubber. Because of its broad range of desirable capabilities, chloroprene is used across the map for a wide variety of applications and industries. 

Key features include: 

  • Good resistance to petroleum oils
  • Ozone, sunlight and oxygen aging resistance
  • Outstanding durability
  • Economical production cost

2. Ethylene-Propylene

Ethylene-Propylene has become increasingly accepted across the sealing industry for its excellent ozone and chemical resistance. With good resistance properties across the board, one of the only notable limitations of this elastomer is that it has no resistance to hydrocarbon fluids. 

Key features include: 

  • Outdoor weather resistance
  • Good resistance to acids and solvents
  • Commonly used for automotive brake and cooling systems, water applications and low torque drive belts

3. Fluorocarbon

Fluorocarbon, commonly known as Viton®, is a universal o-ring material. With high temperature resistance and outstanding chemical resistance, this rubber polymer is often used in aircraft engines and automotive fuel handling systems. While fluorocarbon is resistant to many chemicals, it should not be exposed to ketones, amines, low molecular weight esters and ethers, nitro hydrocarbons and hot hydrofluoric or chlorosulfonic acids. 

Key features include: 

  • Higher resistance to swell in high-octane and oxygenated fuel blends
  • Steam resistance for higher temperature services
  • Standard temperature ranges from –13°F to +446°F

4. Fluorosilicone

Fluorosilicone is most often used in aerospace applications because of its high and low-temperature stability and excellent fuel resistance. However these advantages, along with others, have made this polymer increasingly more popular for a wider range of industries. Fluorosilicone is generally used in static seal applications due to its limited physical strength, poor abrasion resistance and high friction characteristics. 

Key features include:

  • Good compression set
  • Suitable for exposure to air, sunlight, ozone, chlorinated and aromatic hydrocarbons
  • Standard temperature ranges from -75°F to +400°F

5. Nitrile

Nitrile, or Buna-N, is currently the seal industry’s most widely used and economical elastomer. Nitrile is commonly used in oil-resistant applications, low temperature military applications and off-road equipment, as well as in the automotive, marine and aircraft industries. 

Key features include: 

  • Excellent petroleum-based oil and fuel resistance
  • Resistance to silicone greases, hydraulic fluids, water and alcohols
  • Low compression set
  • High tensile strength and abrasion resistance

6. Silicone

Silicone is a renowned elastomer known for its retention of flexibility and low compression set. With one of the widest working temperature ranges of all elastomers, silicone is often the go-to sealing material for a wide range of applications. 

Key features include: 

  • Compatible with FDA and medical regulations
  • Specific silicone polymers can perform as low as -148°F, or as high as 600°F
  • Generally used for static seals in extreme temperature situations

 

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