Today’s blog is going to address the various types of rubber compounds, their properties, and applications.
Before we get into the various types of rubber compounds, let’s begin with a primer into the origin of natural rubber. The para’ rubber tree is the major source of natural rubber latex in the world, and is designated as natural gum rubber vs. a synthetic or man-made rubber. The para’ rubber tree is indigenous to South America, but is now successfully grown in India, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand. Natural gum rubber displays elastic properties (think rubberband, and latex gloves), is typically tan in color, and very abrasion resistant. Natural gum rubber would be used in such applications as cement discharge or suction hose, construction aggregate conveyance, and even tubing for medical devices.
Neoprene (sometimes referred to as chloroprene) is a very common synthetic rubber that is used widely throughout the world today. Neoprene was invented by Dupont, and originally sold as “Duprene” before the name neoprene was widely adapted after the trademark was dropped. In contrast to natural gum rubber, Neoprene resists degradation from mild oils and chemicals and handles a wider temperature range. Often black in color (but is also offered in other colors), neoprene is a very cost effective rubber elastomer (an elastomer being an elastic substance resembling rubber).
Another elastomer very similar to Neoprene is EPDM (etylene propylene diene monomer), which visually cannot be distinguished from Neoprene. EPDM’s main ingredients are formed from oil and natural gas, causing the raw material cost to fluctuate from worldwide supply and demand for oil. EPDM’s properties make it a great choice for outdoor applications, because of it’s resistance to the effects of ozone, heat, and temperature. One example of a smart use of EPDM is the cover on your typical garden hose you would use at home. On the industrial side of things, EPDM is used for such hoses as Parker’s Dragon Breath hot air blower hose, which can withstand temperatures up to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
The last common rubber compound I will discuss is Buna-N (also called NBR-Nitrile Butadiene Rubber). Buna-N was patented in 1934 and has been widely used. Buna has such a great resistance to oil and other chemicals, it makes a great choice for conveying petroleum based products, such as diesel fuel, and crude oil. Like EPDM, Buna-N has a very similar look and feel to neoprene, which reinforces the importance of using the correct rubber compound for the hose made specifically for the job.
Choosing the exact elastomeric compound for your application is vitally important. Chemical compatibility, temperature, pressure, and environment all influence our hose recommendations for you. For example, a neoprene lined hose wouldn’t be appropriate for a high abrasion application, just like a natural gum rubber lined hose wouldn’t be good for a job involving a petroleum based product, as it could cause a catastrophic hose failure.
For my next blog, I will address the S.T.A.M.P.E.D. acronym, and why it is the most important component when spec’ing in a hose.