Rubber channels are one of many industrial products made from synthetic or natural rubber. They are popular in a many different industries, such as aerospace, automotive, construction, industrial manufacturing, heating and cooling (HVAC), architecture, marine, appliance, home and garden, lighting and water and plumbing. Rubber channels, particularly rubber u-channels, work as primary or secondary seals to a wide variety of goods and equipment. They can protect against not only water or outside air, but vibration and noise as well. Less commonly, but equally effectively, they can also be used as decorative trim. Some of the many roles they may serve include: gaskets, washers, seals, bumpers, rings and bands.
Rubber is a popular material for channel applications because it is displays high levels of elasticity in both its natural and synthetic forms. Natural rubber, which is harvested as latex from rubber trees in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, is primarily composed of polymers produced by an organic compound called isoprene. In addition to being highly elastic, natural rubber is extremely waterproof and very durable. Synthetic rubbers, on the other hand, are elastomers made of polymers that are synthesized from petroleum byproducts. The first synthetic rubber, created from butadiene, was synthesized in 1910, while synthetic rubbers rose to prominence during and after the First and Second World Wars. Synthetic rubber tends to be more thermally stable and pure than natural rubber.
Rubber channels are formed via the extrusion process. In short, this process takes a rubber blank and forces it through a die. In more detail, it begins when raw rubber stock is compiled and placed in a hopper. From the hopper, the raw rubber is dumped into a tunnel called a conveyance channel, which is designed to funnel the raw rubber down towards the die, or metal preform. The conveyance channel is assisted in its mission by a long screw, which turns as the rubber goes past, building pressure. The combination of this pressure, pressure exerted by the extruder and increasing heat put out by the extruder causes the rubber to eventually become semi-molten and malleable. Once this happens, the rubber material is forced into the die, which is shaped just as they wish the final product to look. As it goes through the die, the rubber fills out and takes on its shape. After it passes through the die, the newly formed rubber channel is allowed to harden and cool. Post-extrusion, manufacturers have the option to vulcanize rubber channels so that they fit better around windows and doors. They also often choose to splice them, so as to create large diameter seals, bands or rings.
Rubber channels may be made from a variety of different rubber types. Some of these include: natural rubber, neoprene, silicone, SBR, nitrile, butyl, EPDM, fluorosilicone and polyurethane. Each material offers different qualities, such as greater or lesser elasticity, greater or lesser thermal stability and greater or lesser water resistance. Silicone, for example, which can be any number of synthetic rubbers in the silicone family, is known generally for thermal stability over a wide chemical range, low toxicity and low chemical reactivity. In addition, it can be made using particular substances, like sulphur, to impart it with specific properties that benefit certain applications. Most applications of silicone rubber channels are in the food and beverage, sanitation and hygiene, pharmaceutical and medical industries. Another example of a unique synthetic rubber is EPDM (ethylene propylene monomer (M-class)). EPDM is an elastomer that is known for its exceptional weather resistance, ozone resistance and temperature resistance, and its excellent resistance to ultraviolet (UV) light. It additionally exhibits good resistance to acids, alkalis, steam, oxygenated solvents and water. On top of this, EPDM maintains its flexibility even when subject to very cold temperatures. Finally, it displays a good amount of electrical insulation properties. It is the preferred material choice for the production of rubber channels intended for outdoor applications.
Rubber channels are further available in any number of standard and custom shapes, both simple and complex. Manufacturers can cut them into any dimension or size, so that they can be anything from washers to weatherstripping. They are also typically available in a variety of standard and custom opaque colors. In addition, rubber channels are generally available in a number of grades, including: FDA food grade, UL A-A59588 (formerly ZZR-765E), USP CL-VI Compound and ASTM D2000. To find out more about what may be possible for your rubber channel application, get in touch with one or more of skilled and experienced manufacturers we have listed on our page here at IQS Directory.
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Rubber Channels Informational Video