What is Vulcanized Rubber?

Rubber is often processed with heat and sulfur during production to improve its physical properties. A process known as vulcanization, it makes the rubber stronger as well as more elastic. From tires and footwear to keypads and gaskets, countless products are made of vulcanized rubber. To learn more about vulcanized rubber and how it differs from traditional rubber, keep reading.

The Basics of Vulcanized Rubber

Vulcanized rubber is any type of rubber that’s been hardened through the use of heat and sulfur. It’s made via a curing process in which the rubber’s elastomers harden in response to heat and sulfur. Exposure to heat and sulfur creates new cross-links in the rubber that, ultimately, makes the rubber stronger and more elastic.

How Vulcanized Rubber Is Made

Vulcanized rubber is made using a multi-step vulcanization process. First and foremost, the rubber is submerged in a bathe of sulfur and additives. While sulfur is the primary ingredient used to facilitate vulcanization, other additives are mixed in with it. The bath may contain pigments for color as well as an accelerator to speed up the process.

Next, the rubber is molded into the desired shape. Vulcanized ubber can’t be easily molded. Rather, it’s strong and elastic properties make it difficult to mold. Therefore, the rubber is molded after it’s submerged in a bath of sulfur and additives.

After being molded, the rubber is heated in an oven-like chamber. While sulfur alone can vulcanize rubber, the addition of heat helps to speed up the process while also allowing for better results. The rubber is heated to a temperature of about 300 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, after which it’s removed from the heating chamber and allowed to cool.

Vulcanized Rubber vs Traditional Rubber

When compared to traditional rubber, vulcanized rubber is significantly stronger. It’s able to withstand greater pressure and stress, making it preferred by many manufacturing companies.

Vulcanized rubber is also more elastic than traditional rubber. Many people assume that strength is correlated to elasticity. Just because an object or material is strong, though, doesn’t necessarily mean that it can’t be elastic. Vulcanized rubber is both strong and elastic. With its increased elasticity, it can be stretched to a greater degree without succumbing to permanent deformation.

Vulcanized rubber is typically better protected against abrasion than traditional rubber. Abrasion consists of damage due to scraping. Vulcanized rubber is stronger and harder than traditional rubber, so it’s less likely to suffer abrasion damage.

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