What are Elastomers?

April 2, 2014
What are Elastomers?

Elastomer is a classification of flexible plastic that is an ideal material to be used for insulation, because it has the capacity to withstand twisting and deformation and it can be moulded into different shapes. Elastomers are considered as a specific type of polymer and it includes natural and artificial rubber. We come across elastomers in many daily applications and they include such examples as the wheels of skateboards, the soles of tennis shoes, and even the insulation that covers speaker cables and telephone wires.

A lot of industries are dependent on various parts that are made from elastomers and these industries include sports, automobiles manufacture, electronics, as well as assembly line factories. This is due to the fact that polymers provide a lot of properties that only this material can provide. They are very easy to form especially when they are in their resin soft state. However, the moment they become hard, they will become resistant to changes in temperature and other forms of material stress such as compression and stretching.

Elastomers are used by more industries because of their durability. They can easily withstand scratches, the attacks of corrosion from different chemicals, and the ravages of humidity and water submersion. And because elastomers do not conduct electrical current, they are very good electronic insulators.

One other advantage of elastomers over other similar materials is that they can be merged with other materials in order to add strength to some specific characteristics. Other types of polymers can make them more difficult to soften when exposed to very high temperatures or fail when laid bare against certain ozone gases. Elastomers can also be easily installed with other materials such as hard plastic, metal, and other kinds of rubber, with outstanding adherence.

Elastomers have the capability to deform and go back to their previous shape. This capacity is called crosslinking which means that different chains of polymer molecules have all been linked together making that item capable of being stretched but always returns to its original form and arrangement. The only undesirable aspect of this feature of plastics is that they are very hard to recycle, but fortunately, they can last a long time without any signs of wearing out.

Some elastomeric materials can have features and properties that are similar to thermoplastics and they can be classified as:

  • Thermoset elastomers which are the type of elastomer materials that do not melt when heated.
  • Thermoplastic elastomers which are those elastomers that will melt when exposed to extreme heat.

Elastomer materials actually will not melt because before they do that, they will first turn into gas. They may also swell when exposed to certain types of solvents. Elastomers are, by and large, insoluble and they are also elastic and extremely flexible.