Multitalented elastic materials for undercover assignments

When most people think about rubber, the first thing that comes to mind is probably car tyres. After all, we see them everywhere on our streets and roads, and many of us have to ensure that they are regularly inspected and replaced. About 60 percent of the 22 million tonnes of rubber used worldwide every year are processed to make all kinds of tyres. However, rubber can be used for many other purposes, most of which fall under the headings “sealing”, “damping” and “transportation” – three simple words, with a lot more to them than might first appear. This is because many rubber products are used for undercover applications, so that most people are unaware of the real scope of this material’s versatility. Rubber products are used to seal things as small as medicinal ampoules and as large as the roofs of stadiums. They help trains to run smoothly and engines to run quietly, ensure that conveyor belts perform energy-efficiently and wind turbines gain the necessary momentum. They give operating elements their soft-touch feeling, and – in the form of safety clothing – protect people against dangerous substances. As belts in different shapes and sizes, they transmit energy, and as hoses of all kinds they transport fluids, both in the home and in industrial and medical applications.The new materials have been accompanied by changes in rubber processing technology. Rising raw material costs and falling prices to buyers are forcing processors to continuously improve the efficiency of their production methods. Many of the new possibilities will be presented at K 2010 – the world’s biggest trade fair for plastics and rubber – from 27 October to 3 November in Düsseldorf.