Rubbers, which are also called ‘elastomers’ are a very important aspect of today’s engineering technology. There are lots of kinds of production processes and customer products that are depending on rubber materials. You know that rubber is one of the three types of polymer materials.
There is a special process called ‘vulcanization’ which is generally applied to elastomers to obtain more stiff structure but retain their extensibility. Here, you can find out a brief explanation of vulcanization processes applied to rubbers/elastomers.
The vulcanization process is a special application for rubbers to obtain more cross-linking structures between mers/molecules. These cross-linkings provide a much more stiff structure than thermoset plastics. As you know that also, elastomers are very flexible compared with other polymers. With the vulcanization method, elastomers lose nothing from their flexibility but gain stiffer structure.
In the most basic aspect, vulcanization is the application of sulfur to elastomers. This method is first founded by Goodyear, in which nearly 8% of sulfur is added inside the elastomer constitution.
But in today’s technology, that type of vulcanization process is evolved. Because this old type of process takes very long hours. With the addition of very small amounts of zinc oxide(ZnO) and stearic acid(C18H36O2), the total vulcanization process reduces to minutes.
You know that there are various kinds of rubber shaping processes available in the manufacturing world to shape different kinds of rubber parts. According to this fact, various kinds of application styles available in rubber shaping. But in general, vulcanization is applied in two different principles;
In this kind of rubber shaping processes, discrete rubber parts are obtained from discrete molds or production machinery. So, vulcanization is applied to these discrete parts.
Generally, autoclaves or gas curing methods are applied to vulcanize the rubber parts. Autoclaves are the heated and pressurized vessel in which vulcanization of rubber parts takes place. In the gas curing method, inert and heated gas is directed on rubber parts to make vulcanization.
There are lots of continuous production of rubber parts are available in manufacturing. In these methods, produced rubber parts or shapes are not discrete parts. They are in continuous shape such as wire coatings, extrudates, etc.
For these kinds of rubber production processes, continuous drums or hot-air tunnel types of vulcanization methods are applied.
Vulcanization is a very important process to obtain the required stiff and elastic parts needed in casual life. There are lots of scientific works and technical researches going on in this field.
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