Rubber is an incredibly versatile product, used in almost all industries worldwide. The largest end-user of rubber products is the automotive parts industry. Other common applications include footwear, textiles, and construction. It is preferred for its properties, such as heat and abrasion resistance. Rubber goes through many processes before it gets to the end-user. In this article, we will focus on one of those processes—rubber extrusion.
What Is Rubber Extrusion?
Rubber extrusion is a forming process that gives rubber products their shape. Manufacturers use an extruder machine to achieve the desired shape. An extruder machine has two parts: A heated shearing screw conveyer and a die.
Steps Involved in Extrusion
The first step in rubber extrusion is feeding the rubber compound into a feed hopper in the extruder, which feeds the rubber into different flutes in a revolving screw. Then the screw conveys the rubber to the die. Pressure and temperature increase as the rubber gets closer to the die.
The pressure continues building up and eventually pushes the rubber through various openings, forcing the rubber to swell to various degrees. Ideally, the rubber swells in both its cross section and its length. The extent to which the rubber swells depend on its material’s compound and hardness.
What’s an Extrusion Die?
The extrusion die is what gives the extruded rubber the desired cross-sectional shape. It is usually made by creating an opening in the desired shape on a blank of steel. The rubber material is forced through the extrusion die under high pressure. In most cases, rubber compounds swell when going through the extrusion die, increasing dimensions. Therefore, the extrusion die is made with utmost precision to meet all tolerances for the finished extruded rubber part.
Why Is Rubber Extrusion Important?
One of the most significant benefits of the extrusion process is that it makes it possible for rubber products to achieve the desired shape. It also enables manufacturers to have flexible and lightweight products while minimizing wastage. It has proven to be efficient and incredibly economical. Rubber extrusion also gives customers more choices. A customer can reach out to the manufacturer and customize a rubber profile.
Applications of Rubber Extruded Products
A rubber manufacturing company uses different types of rubber, both natural and synthetic. The most common ones include silicone, Viton, hydrogenated nitrile, neoprene, and thermoplastic rubber.
The choice of the rubber material to be extruded depends on the environment to which the final product will be exposed. That refers to factors like weather conditions and solvent resistance. When it comes to shapes, there is so much room for creativity. The rubber extrusion could take any shape. Common shapes include cord shapes, triangles, and squares.
Rubber extruded products come in handy in the industrial setting—especially where sealing is required. A good example is door and window seals, which fill the gaps between doors and windows and their frames, keeping wind and water out. These seals are used in cars, trucks, HVAC systems, and industrial facilities. Other common uses include edge trim profiles and bumpers and fenders. The more you learn about extruded rubber, the more you’ll probably notice it in everyday objects.