We use rubber every day, whether we realize it or not. This compound is a huge part of our lives and, without it, our daily functioning would operate much differently. Despite rubber’s impact on the modern world, few people understand what is involved in the process of rubber manufacturing or what, exactly, is compounded with rubber in a rubber mixing mill to create useful substances with nearly endless applications.
Encountering Rubber Compounds
Rubber is truly everywhere. How many of these applications have you encountered yourself in the past week?
- Wood substitutes, such as the kinds found in some types of mulch
- Automobile Tires
- Tubing and fiber-optic cables
- Clothing and accessories such as shoes, purses, coats, and jewelry
- Automotive parts (and bicycles, too!)
- Circuit board and other technology manufacturing
- Insulating wetsuits for scuba diving
- Sealants and adhesives
More Than Rubber
The Encyclopedia Britannica describes the ways in which rubber is modified before use. In order to achieve properties which allow rubber its true flexibility in a wide variety of applications, other ingredients are added to natural and synthetic rubbers before use. In addition to the main ingredient, an elastomer such as natural rubber, butadiene rubber, or styrene-butadiene rubber, other components are added such as fillers, oils, and curing products that encourage interlinking reactions for a sturdier product after curing. The process of mixing these ingredients together is called compounding.
A Powerful Mix
You may be wondering just how these products are compounded to make a sturdy, homogenous product. Luckily, manufacturing advances have allowed for the development of industrial equipment like the rubber mixing mill, which efficiently turns a series of individual ingredients into a single, final rubber product. In addition to mixing materials for rubber compounds, these mills are also capable of heating pre-mixed compounds or cooling compounds combined in a separate mixer.
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