Rubber products form a large portion of everyday consumer goods. They are used for various applications daily and have helped make our lives easier. While rubber comes in several forms, soft rubber is perhaps the most common kind in use today. This soft rubber can be molded into various shapes and sizes to match today’s manufacturers’ needs. Soft rubber also comes in two choices – silicone and butyl rubber. Both of these are manufactured at a rapid pace to keep up with market demands. Let’s take a detailed look at the processes used for manufacturing them.
Silicone is a very versatile polymer made of silica. It has high tensile strength and is used in various elastomer products. Its manufacturing process starts with the separation of silicon from the common silica found in sand. This is usually done by heating the sand to extremely high temperatures. These can reach up to 1800 ˚C and are achieved within large ovens. The resulting pure silicon is then powdered with a grinder.
This powder is combined with methyl chloride and heated again. This causes a reaction that combines the two components to form methyl chlorosilane, which can then be distilled to form silicone. This process is completed by boiling the mixture to remove the hydrochloric acid. This can then act as a catalyst to make the disilanol condense into polydimethylsiloxane. This is a compound that forms the foundation of silicone. With a polymerization process, the polydimethylsiloxane can be converted into silicone rubber. This end product is then sent to other manufacturing companies for producing products with it.
Butyl Rubber Manufacturing
Butyl rubber is another synthetic form of rubber that is manufactured with chemical processes. It is based on the compound isobutylene, which is converted into rubber via polymerization. Because of its low permeability to gases, it is an excellent option for use in machines that deal with oxygen and ozone. This rubber’s manufacturing process begins with the reaction of methyl chlorides with liquid ethylene to remove its heat while maintaining the required temperature. This often results in the formation of fine particles of butyl rubber inside the methyl chloride. The methyl chloride and some monomers are then removed with the addition of hot water and stabilized with calcium stearate. This can then be sent to the reactor for purification. Finally, an antioxidant is introduced to the resultant to make it ready for screening. Fluid conveyor belts are used to transport the resulting butyl rubber for further processing. Once cooled down, the rubber can be cut into the desired shape and size and packaged.
The above processes are simple and can be used to make these soft rubber compounds with relative ease. The result would always depend on the machines utilized for the process. Therefore it is vital to ensure you have the right ones in your lineup.