We rely on rubber every day, from the hoses, belts, and tires that keep our vehicles running smoothly to rubber bands and erasers in our desks and even the soles of our shoes. Creating functional and durable versions of these and many other products require a vulcanization process which firms and cures rubber to improve its functionality for these uses. Modern vulcanization is typically performed with an industrial vulcanization autoclave.
How Vulcanized Rubber Is Made
Both natural and synthetic rubbers are vulnerable to temperature changes, becoming sticky when heated and brittle when chilled. To make it a more durable and useful material, it must be cured or vulcanized. The rubber vulcanizing process modifies rubber’s internal chemical bonds (changing its cross-linking chemistry) with the addition of sulfur or other chemicals and heat to create a harder, stronger, firmer, more elastic, and resilient material.
How to Vulcanize Rubber
Vulcanization is a relatively simple process of changing rubber’s natural structure, shaping the resulting material, and heat-curing it. Specific steps are:
- Rubber is submerged in a tank filled with sulfur and special additives which speeds up the curing process. Other additives may also be included with the rubber to enhance performance, appearance, or other characteristics.
- Rubber is now extruded, molded, or otherwise formed into the desired shape.
- After shaping, rubber parts or products are typically placed in a heated vulcanizing autoclave chamber where the elevated temperature (usually 300°F to 400°F) accelerates the process.
- Finally, vulcanized products are removed and allowed to cool.
Uses and Benefits
Vulcanized rubber, whether from natural or synthetic sources, is a popular, cost-effective material for applications where its strength, durability, elasticity, and versatile nature are imperative.
Benefits of Vulcanized Rubber
Some of vulcanized rubber’s most valuable benefits include:
- Resilience: Tires, stoppers, shoe soles, and hoses, among other things, must be able to withstand a tremendous amount of wear and tear.
- Elasticity: Rubber products are particularly useful for their elasticity, or the ability to return to their original shape repeatedly.
- Moisture Resistance: Rubber’s waterproof qualities are a key benefit for applications that are exposed to moisture for extended periods.
- Insulation: Rubber’s very low dielectric constant and other characteristics make it an excellent insulator for both electrical currents and temperature.
- Physical Resistance: Rubber performs well even with substantial physical damage such as impacts and abrasions.
- Chemical Resistance: Rubber has good resistance to oxidation, corrosives, organic solvents, and other chemicals.
Some of the products that most frequently use vulcanized rubber include:
- Vehicle tires
- Shoe soles
- Hoses and tubing
- Balls and other toys
- Erasers and rubber bands
- Gaskets and seals
- Conveyor and other belts
- Shock absorbers and vibration dampeners
- Durable tank linings
- Insulating sheets and related products
Rubber Vulcanizing Autoclaves at Bondtech
Our vulcanizing autoclaves are designed with options that offer the precision and flexibility required to meet the versatile needs of our customers. Options and features include:
Heating Systems Options
Autoclave heating options include:
- Indirect electric heat
- Indirect steam heat
- Direct steam heat
Quick openings doors are designed for safety with:
- Hydraulic power for swift, safe opening and locking
- Durable O-ring gasket with a locking ring rotation to reduce wear
Temperature & Pressure Controls
A prepackaged temperature and pressure control unit is included with each rubber vulcanizer with a 24-hour circular chart recorder.
Programmable Logic Controller (PLC)
Programmable logic controllers allow for flexible programming of autoclave process cycles, allowing users to:
- Optimize autoclave cycles as needed
- Produce high-quality products
- Connect a modem if desired
Quality Control & Safety Features
Our autoclaves stand out for their safety and quality with:
- ASME and National Board certification
- Safety interlocks and relief valves
- Online tech support available from our engineers
Vulcanized rubber is a versatile material with applications across countless industries. At Bondtech, our vulcanizing autoclaves are an ideal solution for safe, customizable rubber vulcanizing. Contact us today to learn more, or request a quote for your autoclave rubber needs.