Summer is in full swing across the nation and temperatures are rising. Both rubber and plastic can be reactive to changes in the environment, making storage critically important for maintaining the integrity of your parts. Several factors such as exposure to oxygen, ozone, light, heat, humidity, oils, water, or other solvents can affect the performance of your rubber and plastic parts. These factors can be minimized by proper storage conditions.
1. CONTROL STORAGE TEMPERATURE
Materials can change in dimension based upon exposure to extreme temperatures. In particular, rubber is susceptible to these changes because it has a high coefficient of friction. It is ideal to keep materials stored in temperatures between 40°F and 80°F. Higher temps will cause products to soften, while colder temps cause stiffening. If your parts are out of tolerance after being stored, be sure to allow them to stabilize for 24 hours in a milder environment.
2. CONTROL STORAGE HUMIDITY
Some materials are prone to absorb moisture and will surely be affected by humidity levels. When deciding how to store your parts, remember that relative humidity in the environment should stay below 75%. Condensation should be avoided at all times. For those who can’t avoid humidity, be sure to allow for additional tolerance on part dimensions. In addition, letting the product stabilize in a controlled environment for 24 hours will minimize the changes humidity can cause.
3. AVOID EXPOSURE TO LIGHT
Both rubber and plastic products should be protected from light, particularly sunlight and strong, ultraviolet, artificial light. To help solve this issue, we suggest first putting parts into polyethylene bags, and then storing in large cardboard, or other opaque, containers.
4. AVOID OXYGEN AND OZONE EXPOSURE
Oxygen (O2) and Ozone (O3) can be quite damaging to rubber products, so wherever possible, it is best to store parts in airtight containers. This will protect them from circulating air and will minimize the potential negative affect. Exposure to ozone is particularly damaging, and can cause a scission (breakage) of the carbon backbone polymer chain into smaller chains. To maintain the integrity and shape of rubber products, keep them away from ozone-generating equipment such as electric motors, mercury vapor lamps, and high voltage electrical equipment.
5. STORE PRODUCTS IN RELAXED STATE
Rubber and plastic products should be stored in a tension-free, relaxed state. Parts that are compressed when stored may cause cracking or change of shape. Large parts should not be stored on pegs as this may cause severe deterioration. To restore parts to their original shape, apply moderate heat directly to product and allow time for product to be unrestrained.
We hope these 5 tips for storing rubber and plastic parts will help protect your products. These are especially important for parts with custom profiles. Controlling storage environment can be very difficult, but with the right protection, your parts will continue to perform as planned.
For additional questions regarding storage, feel free to contact us!
Visit us at viprubber.com
Cindy LeClair is the Vice President of Marketing at Vip Rubber and Plastic Company in California. Cindy is in the third generation of family ownership and has over 10 years of experience in the manufacturing industry. She is passionate about helping others and aims to educate and connect customers with the right resources. Should you want to get to know Vip Rubber and Plastic better as a potential supplier, do not hesitate to reach out to Cindy.