What Types of Rubber Can Be Used in the Consumer Industry?
Rubber is often thought as a single type of material, but there are many different types of elastomers used in the consumer industry. Each elastomer comes with its own characteristics and benefits. We can even combine benefits by blending elastomers.
Due to having unlimited possibilities and being a helpful material for many types of products and hardware components, rubber is a popular material choice not only in the consumer industry but in the medical, automotive, industrial, and defense contracting industries as well.
Examples of consumer products that elastomers are used to manufacture include smartphone covers and cases, footwear, sports goods, and erasers. Elastomers are usually more durable than plastics, so they are used for smartphone covers and cases that are designed to provide extra protection for the device.
Types of rubber that can be used in the consumer industry include:
EPDM is often chosen for consumer products that need to be resistant to weather, ozone, steam, animal and vegetable oils, or high temperatures. Its maximum service temperature is 302 degrees Fahrenheit (150 degrees Celsius). In the consumer industry, EPDM can be used as a material for important parts in products, such as seals, speaker cone surrounds, and o-rings. EPDM can be finished to a smooth surface if that's important for your needs. A weakness of the material to be aware of is it doesn't have good resistance to petroleum-based liquids.
Butyl rubber has good weathering resistance, excellent electrical properties, and low permeability to air. It's also resistant to strong and oxidizing chemicals, greases, oils, and animal and vegetable fats. As a dielectric material, butyl can act as an electrical insulator. Because of its impermeability to air, butyl is frequently used in applications that require an airtight rubber. Balls that are used in sports, such as soccer balls, have what's called a ball bladder inside. And these ball bladders are usually made of butyl rubber.
In the consumer industry, silicone rubber is often used in electronics, medical, and even in ice cube trays! This material can pass FDA and UL listed standards. It's hypoallergenic, biocompatible, and durable. Silicone can resist extreme high and low temperatures like 572 degrees Fahrenheit (300 degrees Celsius) and -67 degrees Fahrenheit (-55 degrees Celsius) depending on how we need to modify to meet your needs. It's also a good choice if you need custom colors in your rubber components because silicone has optical clarity. We can dye it many different custom colors.
Nitrile (NBR) is resistant to oil, fuels, and chemicals. How much nitrile is in the material affects its properties. A higher concentration of nitrile increases its resistance to oil and decreases its flexibility. NBR can handle temperatures of -40 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 degrees Celsius) to 226 degrees Fahrenheit (108 degrees Celsius). It can be used for creating footwear, floor mats, and sponges. There are two other types of nitrile rubber as well: HNBR (hydrogenated NBR) and XNBR (carboxylated NBR). HNBR has great physical strength and long-term resilience to oil, chemicals, and heat.
If you're looking for a waterproof rubber for your prototype, then neoprene is a good choice. This waterproof rubber is commonly used in dry suits, laptop sleeves, mouse pads, tablet holders, orthopaedic braces, speaker cones, and drum practice pads. Neoprene maintains flexibility and good chemical stability over a wide range of temperatures. It's also a fire retardant material that can be used in combat attire and fire doors. This material's burn point is around 500 degrees Fahrenheit (260 degrees Celsius). Some people have allergic reactions to neoprene, a downside to keep in mind.
SBR (styrene-butadiene rubber) is resistant to abrasions, moderate chemicals, ketones, organic acids, and alcohols. As styrene content in the rubber increases, its hardness increases. The rubber is weak when it comes to greases, oils, strong acids, and ozone. In the consumer industry, SBR is commonly used in shoe soles, shoe heels, coated papers, low damping rubber surrounds in speakers, cutting boards, and chewing gum.
Polyurethane rubbers are available as thermosetting and thermoplastic varieties. Thermosetting polymers don't melt when heated. A thermoplastic material could be melted at a high enough temperature for reshaping. Beneficial characteristics of thermoplastic polyurethane are high abrasion resistance, elasticity, resistance to oil and grease, high shear strength, and resistance to low temperatures. Polyurethane is commonly used in skateboard wheels, condoms, electronic instrument components, carpet underlays, and high resilience foam seating.
We can help you determine which type of rubber is best for your consumer goods if you're still on the fence about which to choose. To bring your product ideas into reality and create the crucial hardware components for your products, we offer comprehensive rubber molding services. Types of custom elastomer molding we specialize in include injection molding, transfer molding, compression molding, bonding, and overmolding. We can also create fabric reinforced items. And we offer rapid prototyping and custom tooling services. Our company can guide you from design to product to help you quickly bring your item to market.