Synthetic rubber is an artificial elastomer. They are polymers synthesized from petroleum byproducts. About 32 million metric tons of rubbers are produced annually in the United States, and of that amount, two-thirds are synthetic.
Do you know the amazing features of synthetic rubber over natural rubber? Give a read to this article!
Table of Contents
- What Are The Major Forms Of Synthetic Rubber?
- What Are Some Advantages Of Synthetic Rubber?
- Does Synthetic Rubber Cause Pollen Allergy, Unlike Natural Rubber?
- How Synthetic Rubber Is Impacting The Environment?
- Is Synthetic Rubber Safe For Medical Purposes?
- How Is Synthetic Rubber Helpful In Making Kids’ Shoes?
- How Is It Helpful In Sports Goods Production?
- What Are Some Major Products Of Synthetic Rubber?
What Are The Major Forms Of Synthetic Rubber?
Here are some of the most common types:
- Styrene-Butadiene Rubber (SBR) is a copolymer of styrene and butadiene and offers good abrasion resistance, durability, and low rolling resistance.
- Butadiene Rubber is a butadiene homopolymer with excellent resilience and low-temperature flexibility.
- Nitrile Rubber (NBR) is a copolymer of butadiene and acrylonitrile.
- Chloroprene Rubber (CR): CR, also known as Neoprene, is a homopolymer of chloroprene.
- Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) is a copolymer of ethylene, propylene, and a diene monomer. It has excellent resistance to weathering, ozone, heat, and chemicals.
- Silicone rubber is a rubber made from silicone elastomers.
What Are Some Advantages Of Synthetic Rubber?
It offers several advantages over natural rubber usage. Here are some of its key advantages.
Its formulation exhibits a wide range of properties that make it suitable for various applications. It possesses specific characteristics such as high or low elasticity, resistance to heat, chemicals, and durability.
It is often more durable and long-lasting than natural rubber.
Oil and Chemical Resistance
Many formulations exhibit superior resistance to oils, fuels, solvents, and chemicals. That’s why it is suitable for automotive, aerospace, and chemical applications. It can maintain its integrity and functionality even when exposed to harsh substances.
Consistency and Quality Control
It can produce more consistent and standard products due to its precise chemical composition and manufacturing process control. This quality control enables manufacturers to make rubber with specific properties and ensures uniformity in the end product, which is crucial for industries that require consistent performance and reliability.
Reduced Dependency on Natural Resources
Natural rubber is derived from the sap of rubber trees and is subject to fluctuations in supply and price. It provides an alternative source of rubber that reduces dependency on natural resources, making it a more stable and reliable option for various industries.
It can be easily modified to meet specific requirements, allowing for customization according to the desired properties and applications. This versatility and adaptability make it a preferred choice in industries where tailored solutions are necessary.
Does Synthetic Rubber Cause Pollen Allergy, Unlike Natural Rubber?
Synthetic rubber, such as latex-free alternatives like nitrile rubber, has a lesser chance of causing pollen allergies. This protein is responsible for triggering allergic reactions in individuals who are sensitive to natural rubber latex.
Pollen allergies occur due to an immune response to pollen from certain plants, trees, grasses, or weeds. It also occurs due to the proteins found in natural rubber latex, which is the extraction of the sap of rubber trees.
How Synthetic Rubber Is Impacting The Environment?
It offers certain advantages from an environmental perspective. Here are some points given below.
The production relies on petrochemicals as raw materials. Petrochemical extraction and processing have environmental implications, including carbon emissions and resource depletion. However, its production helps reduce the demand for natural rubber, which can lead to deforestation and habitat loss.
Improvements in production technologies and energy management systems help minimize the carbon footprint of rubber production.
It allows for more efficient utilization of raw materials and byproducts. Waste materials generated during production can be recycled or used as feedstock for other processes, reducing overall waste generation and promoting a more circular economy.
The products can often be recycled or repurposed at the end of their lifecycle.
Its durability and resistance to wear and degradation contribute to longer product lifespans. It can reduce the frequency of replacements, leading to less overall waste generation and resource consumption.
The artificial rubber industry is actively engaged in developing more sustainable practices. Efforts are in the pipeline to improve the environmental performance of rubber production, such as reducing energy consumption, emissions, and waste generation.
Is Synthetic Rubber Safe For Medical Purposes?
It is widely used and considered safe for medical purposes. In medical settings, latex-free alternatives, like nitrile rubber, are commonly used in various applications.
Latex Allergy Avoidance
Natural rubber latex can cause allergic reactions in individuals who are sensitive or allergic to latex proteins. Nitrile rubber does not contain these proteins, making it a safe alternative for individuals with latex allergies or sensitivities.
Low Protein Content
Synthetic rubber, unlike natural rubber latex, has a lower protein content. It reduces the risk of triggering allergic reactions in individuals who may have a low tolerance to rubber proteins.
Nitrile rubber offers excellent resistance to chemicals, oils, and other substances commonly found in medical environments. This resistance ensures that it does not degrade or react with any substances during medical procedures or handling.
Strength and Barrier Properties
It provides strength, flexibility, and barrier properties in medical applications, such as gloves and tubing. They offer adequate protection against pathogens and other contaminants.
How Is Synthetic Rubber Helpful In Making Kids’ Shoes?
- Kids tend to be active and playful, and their shoes are prone to a lot of wear and tear. It can withstand rough use, abrasion, and impacts, making it suitable for durable and long-lasting kids’ shoes.
- It can maintain its properties and integrity, ensuring that the shoes remain functional and resistant to degradation.
- It is generally easier to clean and maintain compared to natural rubber. Kids’ shoes can get dirty quickly, and this rubber is washable more efficiently, ensuring that the shoes stay in good condition and are ready for use.
- It offers greater flexibility in terms of colours, patterns, and designs. Manufacturers can easily create shoes in various vibrant colours and styles using this rubber. It allows for more attractive and visually appealing options for kids, making their shoes fun and exciting.
- It can be engineered with specific features like slip resistance, cushioning, or flexibility, catering to the unique needs of kids’ shoes.
- It is generally more cost-effective compared to natural rubber. It can result in more affordable kids’ shoes, making them accessible to a wider range of consumers.
How Is It Helpful In Sports Goods Production?
It plays a vital role in the production of sports goods, offering several benefits and enhancing performance. Its formulations provide excellent grip and traction. It is essential in sports goods such as balls, where a good grip enhances control and handling, or in footwear soles.
It gives good shock-absorbing properties in various sports goods, including footwear midsoles or padding in protective gear. The rubber’s cushioning ability helps absorb impact forces, reducing the risk of injury and providing comfort to athletes.
The rubber’s elasticity allows for stretchability, providing a comfortable fit and ease of movement. Moreover, reduced weight can improve performance, agility, and manoeuvrability, especially in sports requiring swift movements.
What Are Some Major Products Of Synthetic Rubber?
It is useful in various industries due to its versatility and desirable properties. Here are some examples.
- It is a key component in the production of automobile tires. It improves the tire’s durability, traction, and resistance to wear and heat.
- It is helpful in the manufacturing of conveyor belts, which are widely helping in industries such as mining, logistics, and manufacturing.
- It is helpful to produce seals and gaskets for various applications.
- It is commonly useful in the production of hoses and tubing for applications such as fluid transportation, fuel lines, and hydraulic systems.
- Ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) rubber is reliable as electrical insulation in cables and wiring due to its excellent dielectric properties.
- Chloroprene rubber (CR) and fluoroelastomers (FKM) are useful in producing industrial belts and O-rings.
- It is useful in the production of sporting goods such as balls, grips, and protective gear.
- What are the disadvantages of synthetic rubber?
While synthetic rubber has numerous advantages, it also has some drawbacks. These can include
- Higher production costs compared to natural rubber
- Potential environmental impact due to the use of petrochemicals as raw materials,
- and in some instances
- reduced elasticity
- heat resistance compared to natural rubber.
- Can synthetic rubber be recycled?
Yes, it is recycled daily. Recycled rubber is helpful in various applications, including new rubber products or as a component in other products such as asphalt and sports surfaces.
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