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Abrasion-Resistant Rubber
Oct 18, 2018

Rubber abrasion resistance is one of the key qualities in play when you are working with various types of rubber. In applications with high physical demands, an abrasion-resistant rubber might be necessary to stand up to the challenge. In order to select and use the most suitable material in an abrasive environment, it is important to know what abrasion-resistant rubber is, how it is measured and how this resistance impacts performance in high-stress settings.

Abrasion refers specifically to the wear which is caused to a material through friction when it comes into physical contact with something else. This wear can be caused by a wide variety of different processes. These can include repeated impacts, scuffing, scraping, sliding and grinding, among other motions. Rubber abrasion resistance is the ability of the rubber to withstand such abrasive wear. Some forms of tough rubber excel in providing protection against abrasions, making them perfect for certain projects. Generally, abrasion is far more likely to occur when motion is involved, as this creates a greater rate of friction-induced wear. In this kind of application, using abrasion-resistant rubber can provide the key to success by giving you a highly protective rubber surface.

The level of resistance of abrasion-resistant rubber is measured through several standard tests. These tests examine the material to identify the most protective rubber types when it comes to facing abrasions. One such test is the ASTM D5963, which was devised by the American Society for Testing and Materials specifically to quantify rubber abrasion resistance. This examination involves putting the material under abrasive pressure to see how it reacts and recording the results. A specialist machine is set up which features a revolving drum with an abrasive surface. A sample of the rubber material is fitted to the machine, and this sample is moved mechanically over the drum as it rotates.

The machine is programed to put the same level of pressure on each sample to ensure a fair and consistent reading. The material’s volume loss is measured in cubic millimeters at the end of the test. A tough rubber with a high level of rubber abrasion resistance will have a smaller reading number. The volume loss measurement is sometimes converted into an abrasion resistance index percentage. With the index percentage, a higher number indicates a better result and a more abrasion-resistant rubber material. This same testing process has also been used in other standardized rubber abrasion resistance tests run by other organizations. These include the DIN 53516 test (named Testing of Rubber and Elastomers; Determination of Abrasion Resistance), and the ISO 4649 (Rubber, vulcanized or thermoplastic - Determination of abrasion resistance using a rotating cylindrical drum device).

There are several factors within the make-up of the material that impacts on the level of resistance of abrasion-resistant rubber. The higher durometer rubber has, the harder and denser the material will be. A high-durometer rubber will have more resistance to indentation and, usually, abrasions. The tensile strength of rubber can also be a significant factor in rubber abrasion resistance. However, it is important to be aware that both of these factors can be good indicators of an abrasion-resistant rubber, but they are not conclusive. A volume loss measurement or an adjusted abrasion resistance index percentage will provide the most accurate reading of how well a tough rubber handles abrasive conditions.

While abrasion-resistant rubber can be tested in controlled conditions, the results are not always perfect indicators of how a tested protective rubber will perform in real-world settings and conditions. Abrasion is very application-specific, because no two wearing processes are exactly the same. In the case of rubber, abrasion levels can be affected by a range of outside variables, such as the temperature, pressure or velocity involved in any given application. Due to the variables involved, the results of a test like the ASTM D5963 might not correlate with real-world results in every setting. There might be situations in which a protective rubber tests well in the controlled rubber abrasion resistance assessment but cannot replicate the qualities of a highly abrasion-resistant rubber elsewhere. However, the results of such tests give a strong indication of a material’s capabilities.

There are many applications, especially in industrial settings, which require materials which stand up to abrasive conditions and challenges. Abrasion-resistant rubber is the perfect material. Make sure you understand how rubber abrasion resistance is measured and opt for a protective rubber which tests well against the abrasive revolving drum conditions. This will help you pick out the most suitable material forms to handle the harshest environments.