Understanding Polymers In Custom Manufacturing
A basic understanding of polymers can be incredibly helpful when creating a new part from rubber or plastic. It is important to choose the right material to ensure product performance and longevity. It takes many years of experience to reach “expert” status in the rubber and plastic industry.
With over half a century of manufacturing under our belt, we have deep understanding of what is involved in the selection, preparation and testing of materials. The heavy lifting can be left to our experts, but for those looking for a fundamental understanding of polymers, read on…..
Definition of Polymer
“A substance that has a molecular structure consisting chiefly or entirely of a large number of similar units bonded together, e.g., many synthetic organic materials used as plastics and resins.”
POLYMERS can be classified into three categories:
- Rubber & Elastomers
The rubber industry only has a few natural polymers that are available for use without making any significant changes to them. In terms of elastomers, natural rubber is the only natural elastomer available. All other elastomers are synthetic and require specific methods of modification to become usable in manufacturing.
ELASTOMERS are typically segmented into three categories. These categories are very useful when selecting the type of rubber for a job or application.
General Purpose: Best for parts that will not require resistance to petroleum-based fluids. These elastomers are made only from carbon and hydrogen and perform well, but will not resist the effects of petroleum oils.
- Natural Rubber (NR)
- Polyisoprene (IR)
- Polybutadiene (BR)
- Styrene-butadiene (SBR)
- Butyl (IIR)
- Ethylene-propylene (EPM)
- Ethylene-propylene-diene (EPDM)
Solvent Resistant: Good for parts used in environments with exposure to petroleum-based fluids. With a more robust dynamic composition, solvent resistant materials will resist petroleum based fluids.
- Nitrile (NBR)
- Polychloroprene (CR)
- Polysulfide (T)
- Epichlorohydrin (CO)
- Chlorinated Polyethylene
Temperature Resistant: Best choice for parts that will be exposed to extreme temperatures for long periods of time. Usually can withstand both abnormal temperatures and petroleum-based fluids.
- Polyacrylate (ACM)
- Fluorocarbon (FKM)
- Chlorosulfonated polyethylene (CSM)
- Silicone (MQ)
Not all materials fit perfectly into these three categories, with many hovering on the border. A custom compounder can alter elastomers to fit the exact needs of a part, including spec requirements for aerospace, military, automotive and other industries.
Elastomer choice is a critical starting point for every custom manufacturing project. It is important to select a material that will perform properly and provide lasting results.
Contact us today to get started on your project.
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.