What’s the difference between silicone rubber sheeting and natural rubber sheeting?
24th April, 2019
Rubber sheeting is used for a variety of applications - from pipe insulation and industrial lining, to electrical matting and resistant coating.
When choosing the type of rubber sheeting for your application, it’s important to ensure that you’ve considered the right compound. In this article, we cover two of the most common – silicone rubber sheeting, and natural rubber sheeting – so you can make an informed decision.
What should I consider when choosing rubber sheeting?
Although we’re covering silicone and natural rubber sheeting in this article, it’s important to have an awareness of the considerations that go into choosing any compound for rubber sheeting.
Be aware that the following considerations could mean your choice of compound will have to change:
- Abrasion Resistance
- Ozone/UV Resistance
- Oil Resistance
- Acid Resistance
What is silicone rubber sheeting?
Silicone rubber is an elastomer comprised of silicone – silicone itself is an inorganic polymer created by combining silicon together with hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen. Depending on the budget and application, fillers can be added to silicone rubber to reduce cost or improve performance.
Silicone rubber sheeting retains excellent elasticity over time, making it a versatile product. Because it is a synthetic rubber, it offers a number of properties which cannot be replicated by natural gum rubbers.
Silicone rubber sheeting is often used to make gaskets – these are mechanical seals designed to prevent leakage between two (often metal) surfaces.
In this instance, it is important to consider the exact location of the gasket in order to determine which type of silicone rubber sheeting best fits the application:
- Will the surfaces move?
- Will the rubber sheeting come into contact with corrosive or acidic chemicals?
- What are the required physical parameters?
- What is your budget?
To ensure the best results for your bespoke project, these factors should always be taken into consideration.
What is natural rubber sheeting?
Natural rubber is an addition polymer, comprising of the organic compound isoprene along with water and other minor organic compounds. Usually produced by ‘tapping’ the latex from Hevea brasiliensis trees, natural rubber is processed to become a durable, environmentally-conscious material for rubber sheeting applications.
Natural rubber sheeting is extremely flexible, and can also come in a multitude of colours to suit your application. Additionally, it is a non-marking rubber, meaning it will leave minimal residue on the surfaces it is applied to.
Natural rubber sheeting is used for a variety of applications, including wiper blades, machine skirting, and other industrial applications. Though the exact tensile strength of a natural rubber sheeting product will depend on the additives in the compound itself, natural rubber sheeting will always display a high ability to handle repeated stress.
Should I choose silicone rubber sheeting or natural rubber sheeting?
When deciding which type of rubber sheeting is the right choice for you, it is important to weigh up the benefits of each material for your unique application.
Natural rubber is a more environmentally conscious choice and offers a wide range of properties that make it suitable for a huge number of industrial and bespoke applications.
Silicone rubber sheeting is synthesised to be strong enough to withstand the demands of jet engines, and safe enough to be used in pharmaceutical applications. Make sure to look at the demands of your application and your budget to see whether it would be better suited by natural rubber sheeting or a silicone rubber sheeting.
Rubber Sheeting from Aquaseal Rubber
Do you have a rubber sheeting brief that requires further thought? Get in touch with Aquaseal Rubber today to discuss how we could offer a bespoke solution to your brief.