Industry Trends

News from the International Elastomer Conference, 2022


This year’s rubber show was held in Knoxville, KY. Although smaller than the typical Cleveland show, many vendors still attended. The show is the perfect place to meet mixers, polymer and chemical suppliers, and secondary equipment manufacturers. Our goal for this rubber show was to find the last rubber chemical offering and talk with our suppliers about any supply issues they’re facing. 

Environmental Regulations

Rubber providers contend with constant changes in environmental regulations. European REACH, especially the SVHC list, California Prop 65, and a growing list of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) from many countries are just a few of the regulations that Apple Rubber must certify for our customers. These lists are constantly growing and can impact how compounds are developed. 

A simple example is a common plasticizer, DEHP. This plasticizer was used in NBR compounds and was one of the first chemicals to be added to these lists that resulted in formulation changes. Many suppliers at the show are aware of these lists and help develop new chemicals that are more environmentally friendly and reduce exposure-related health risks. 

At Apple Rubber, we ensure that we are not using any of the chemicals on these lists when developing our compounds. As such, it is helpful when chemical suppliers develop new products to meet these requirements.

Supply Chain Issues

Many suppliers are producing in high volumes, so inventory is better. Even specialized polymers are being worked back into the production schedule, making it easier to get than it was during the peak of the pandemic. 

Of course, there are still many other issues with supply. Energy is still driving higher pricing due to the rubber industry’s high dependency on fossil fuels. Russia is a major supplier of chemicals and polymers, and further sanctions can cause supply shortages. The increased demand for the EV market is pulling some monomers and process gasses, causing deficiencies. Other issues also arise, like a plant fire shutting down the production of a critical ingredient. 

Overall, however, all the suppliers we spoke with had positive outlooks for the future. 

New Products Apple Rubber is Considering

Hydrin ECO rubber is a good choice for dampening in automotive applications. It has good heat and chemical resistance and improved ozone resistance for weathering applications. Zeon Chemical is a new polymer Hydrin DP5227. This polymer was recently developed for short-term exposure to temperatures of up to 160°C. It also offers improved processing to help with the molding of complex shapes. This could be a good choice for some dampening applications in electric vehicles. 
Apple Rubber will also be looking to improve the physical testing of our compounds with new tensile machines from Shimadzu. We will be adding a new tensile machine for our rubber compounds and a new one to test the tensile strength of o-rings. Physically testing rubber is an essential part of ensuring that our parts use the best materials we can provide.