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Rubber: Full Analysis of Materials, Processing and Applications (2023 Edition)

Introduction

Rubber, or rubber in Chinese (xiàng jiāo), is an extraordinary material with a rich history and diverse applications. In this in-depth analysis, we will embark on a journey to understand rubber, from its raw materials to its wide range of applications. Rubber: Materials, Processing and Applications Full Analysis is a topic covering innovation, science and industry, and we will reveal its mysteries for you here.

The origin of rubber

The story of rubber began in the center of South America, where indigenous peoples used rubber tree emulsion for waterproofing and made balls for Mesoamerican ball games. This versatile material quickly caught the attention of European explorers, and the rubber trade began.

Types of rubber:

Natural rubber

Natural rubber is mainly harvested from the emulsion of rubber trees. This milky white substance contains a polymer called polyisoprene, which makes it highly elastic. The processing of natural rubber includes solidification, rolling, and drying to produce sheets or shapes.

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Synthetic rubber

On the other hand, synthetic rubber is prepared through the polymerization of various petrochemical products. This innovation expands the possibilities of rubber-based products, as synthetic rubber can be customized for specific applications.

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Rubber material properties

1. Elasticity

Rubber has good elasticity and can still return to its original shape after being greatly deformed. This is determined by the special molecular structure of benzene-propylene repeat units in rubber molecules.

2. Insulation

Rubber is a good electrical insulator with high resistivity, which can isolate and protect current. This makes it widely used in electrical cables, electrical rubber products, etc.

3. Sealing

Rubber can fit tightly to different surfaces and has a good sealing effect. This is due to its flexibility and elastic deformation ability. It is commonly used as a sealing material for pipes, doors and windows, etc.

4. Corrosion resistance

Rubber has certain corrosion resistance to chemical media such as acid, alkali, and brine, making it suitable for use in corrosive environments. However, it is not resistant to petroleum cracking products.

5. Wear resistance

After vulcanization and the addition of fillers, rubber can obtain good mechanical strength and wear resistance, making it suitable for use in wear-bearing parts such as tires.

6. Impact resistance

Rubber has good impact absorption and cushioning properties and can be used to make shock absorption and isolation products.

7. Poor ozone resistance

Rubber is susceptible to degradation by ozone and ultraviolet radiation, and antioxidants need to be added when used.

8. Poor heat resistance

The use temperature range of rubber is limited, and long-term high temperature will degrade and age rubber.

In summary, rubber combines various excellent properties such as elasticity, insulation, sealing, corrosion resistance, and wear resistance, and is an extremely important industrial material. However, it also has the disadvantage of poor heat resistance and ozone resistance

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Characteristics of mixed rubber materials

Rubber itself does not have the function of preventing nulear radiation, but it can be combined with other materials to improve the overall radiation protection effect.

1. Mix with lead:

Styrene in rubber can be combined with lead to form lead-containing rubber composites. Lead can absorb and block gamma rays and X-rays, thereby improving protection against nuclear radiation. However, lead is heavy and expensive.

2. Mix with barium cobaltate:

Barium cobaltate also has strong gamma and X-ray absorption capabilities. Adding an appropriate amount of barium cobaltate can improve the radiation resistance of rubber.

3. Mixed with boron:

Boron can capture neutron radiation, and adding boron elements such as boric acid can enhance the neutron protection effect of rubber materials.

4. Thickening:

Increasing the thickness of rubber products can improve the weakening and absorption of various nuclear radiation, but it will increase weight.

5. Multi-layer coating:

Coating the rubber layer with a lead layer or other radiation-proof layer can play a synergistic protective role of each layer of material.

6. Structural design:

The honeycomb porous or box structure is used to increase the path of radiation through the rubber layer and improve the overall radiation protection effect.

Therefore, rubber itself has limited radiation protection effect, but when combined with other radiation protection materials, better nuclear radiation protection products can be made through structural design. This requires selecting different protection schemes according to actual needs.

Rubber processing technology

Vulcanization

One of the most important advances in rubber processing is vulcanization. This process was discovered by Charles Goodyear and involves adding sulfur to rubber and heating it. The result is a more durable and temperature-resistant material.

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Extrusion and molding

Rubber can be molded into various shapes through extrusion and molding processes. Extrusion creates a long and uniform shape by passing rubber through a mold, while molding uses a specific mold to shape rubber into the desired item.

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Rolling

Calendering is a technique used to create rubber sheets with precise thickness and texture. It is usually used to produce conveyor belts, gaskets, and flooring materials.

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Compression molding

Molding methods can also be used to manufacture rubber products with complex shapes (such as leather bowls and sealing rings), and the rubber material is placed in the mold for hot molding with the help of molded yin and yang molds.

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Numerical control machining

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1. Processing equipment

Rubber CNC machining usually requires the use of numerical control engraving machines or laser cutting machines. Compared with ordinary mechanical processing, they can perform more delicate and complex cutting and engraving.

2. Control mode

Rubber CNC machining can be carried out according to pre-edited NC code, or combined with CAD design for numerical control interactive processing.

3. Processing technology

Rubber CNC machining includes cutting, engraving, milling, etc. When cutting, it is necessary to control the cutting speed to prevent rubber from burning. When engraving, pay attention to the type of tool selection.

4. Workpiece fixing

Due to the softness and deformation of rubber, reliable positioning and fixation with vacuum suction cups or ixtures is required during CNC machining.

5. Cooling lubrication

Cutting fluid is required for cooling and lubrication during processing to prevent rubber from sticking to the tool. It can also be processed directly in caramel or soapy water.

6. Processing accuracy

Rubber CNC machining can achieve high precision of 0.1mm. However, due to the elastic deformation of the rubber, the positional tolerance needs to be confirmed in advance.

7. Post-processing

The processed rubber surface is rough and needs to be polished or sprayed. It can also be directly vulcanized.

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The application of rubber in industry

Automotive industry

Rubber is the cornerstone of the automotive industry. It is used in tires, hoses, seals, and gaskets to ensure safety performance when driving on the road.

Healthcare and medical equipment

In the healthcare sector, rubber is essential for seals and gloves in manufacturing equipment, pipes, and various medical devices.

Engineering and construction

The versatility of rubber extends to the construction sector, where it is used for seals, gaskets, and vibration-absorbing materials.

Consumer goods

From footwear to household items, rubber plays a key role in our daily lives. Its elasticity and durability make it an ideal choice for countless consumer goods.

Aerospace

Rubber is used in the aerospace industry for seals, gaskets, and vibration isolation critical components, contributing to flight safety.

Environmental Impact and Sustainability

In recent years, the rubber industry has received attention due to its environmental impact. Concerns have been raised about logging and waste disposal for rubber tree plantations. However, efforts are currently underway to develop sustainable practices and environmentally friendly alternatives.

Frequently Asked Questions ( FAQ )

Q: What is the history of rubber?

A: The history of rubber can be traced back to ancient Mesoamerica, where indigenous peoples used emulsion for various purposes. European explorers introduced it to the world.

Q: How is natural rubber processed?

Answer: Natural rubber is processed by solidifying, rolling, and drying the emulsion of rubber trees.

Q: What are the main applications of rubber in the automotive industry?

Answer: In the automotive industry, rubber is used in tires, hoses, seals, and gaskets.

Q: Is synthetic rubber as good as natural rubber?

A: Synthetic rubber has advantages such as customization to specific needs, and is generally considered as good or even better than natural rubber in some applications.

Q: How does vulcanization improve the performance of rubber?

Answer: Vulcanization enhances the performance of rubber by making it more durable, heat-resistant, and less susceptible to environmental factors.

Q: What is the future of rubber in sustainable practices?

Answer: The rubber industry is actively working towards sustainable practices, including environmentally friendly alternatives and responsible plantation management.

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Conclusion

Rubber: Materials, Processing, and Applications is a fascinating topic that connects the gaps between history, science, and industry. From its humble origins in South America to its key role in modern society, rubber is constantly evolving and adapting to our changing needs. The rubber industry is committed to ensuring that this outstanding material continues to be an indispensable part of our lives, actively embracing sustainable practices.


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