View A Video on Rubber Tubing - A Quick Introduction
Examples of rubber tubing include latex tubing, sometimes called gum rubber tubing, which is derived from natural latex produced by the Pará rubber tree and other latex producing plants. Natural rubber is valued as a raw material for chemically-inert flexible rubber tubing. For this reason it is often applied as surgical tubing and in other sensitive applications. Latex can also be used to make rubber hoses, black rubber tubing, conductive rubber tubing and many other kinds of rubber tubes. Despite those favorable qualities, natural rubber can be unsuitable for certain applications. Many people suffer from latex allergies; for this reason, latex-based tubing is often inappropriate for uses in which it will come into contact with people. Synthetic rubber materials like neoprene are used as substitutes for natural rubber. Neoprene tubing is chemical and abrasion resistant, waterproof, lightweight, stretchable, buoyant and hypoallergenic. Silicone tubing, which is also derived from synthetic rubber, is smooth, pliable, elastic and highly resistant to water, heat and weather. Viton tubing is made from the world's first fluoroelastomer, a high performance synthetic rubber that is exceptionally resilient to substances and conditions that other rubber tubing cannot withstand. EPDM rubber tubing is a synthetic rubber made from ethylene propylene diene monomers. It is commonly used for automotive and industrial purposes.
Rubber tubing is used in flow lines to move and dispense liquids or gases. Rubber tubing can range in terms of inner diameter, outer diameter and thickness from a few thousandths of an inch to several inches. Tubing requires fittings, hose barbs or other attachments in order to be connected to tools, instruments or more tubing. The natural rubber harvesting process involves extracting latex from plants that produce it naturally. When tapped, latex-producing plants produce a free-flowing stream of latex that can be easily collected using nothing but a bucket and gravity, though more advanced methods have streamlined that process. The extracted latex is then mixed with other substances in order to impart upon it qualities necessary to make it useful. In some cases, the latex is vulcanized; vulcanization is a process in which heat and sulfur are applied to latex in order to make it stronger. Synthetic or man-made rubber is made from various molecules derived from petroleum. These tubes can be spark-resistant, explosion-proof, sterilized, reinforced or conductive and are inherently flexible, resilient and elastic.
Because rubber tubing can be made from a wide variety of chemicals and substances, the characteristics and attributes also vary. Rubber tubing can be manufactured with a specific use in mind. Conductive rubber tubing, for example, prevents the buildup of static electricity and is used also to shield sensitive electronic equipment from electromagnetic interference or radio frequency interference. Flexible rubber tubing is valuable in applications where the rubber tube must be bent or contorted to fit into a space. Some materials allow for a product that resists kinks and can be repeatedly stretched or bent without becoming weak. Surgical tubing is sterile and inert because it is used for medical processes; this kind of tubing usually has extremely thin walls to permit free flow. Various colors are available, though some materials hold color better than others; black rubber tubing is commonly used for industrial or manufacturing applications. It also absorbs heat better than a clear tube would, for instance, and can provide insulation or heat retention. A rubber hose is a large rubber tube that is usually reinforced by thin metal wires or stiff rubber to hold the shape even when no liquid is flowing through it.
The scientific community continues to develop new kinds of rubber and rubber tubing with new characteristics for new uses. The Viton fluoroelastomer was created in 1957 to meet the high performance needs of the aerospace industry. Because of its unique qualities, particularly its corrosion resistance, new varieties are still being developed and improved. Other rubber tubes can be explosion-proof, which means they are able to contain an internal explosion to prevent flames or hot gases from escaping from the flow line and cause an external explosion. Microbore tubing is used in the medical field for intravenous lines and delicate placement inside veins and arteries. The walls of the tubing are strong enough to support themselves while also allowing free flow of necessary liquids such as blood or drugs. It is ultra-smooth, inert and sterile to minimize any discomfort or danger for the patient. Another innovation is the development of a strong material called metal rubber. Flexible and lightweight, metal rubber can be stretched, frozen and subjected to chemicals and then snap back to its original shape and form. It is made from polymers with metal ions and is self-assembling, meaning that the components form an organized structure or pattern without external direction.
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