General Properties of Elastomers (Rubber)

The properties of elastomers make them very different from other materials, in particular with regards to entropy elasticity, viscoelasticity and chemical structure, which is a macro network.

Due to a three-dimensional network, elastomers do not flow and are insoluble, but swellable. When the temperature increases, they will not melt until degradation occurs.

Table 8.7 Fiber types and characteristic applications.


Specific requirement(s)


Air-conditioning hose

Resistance to chemicals, high pressure


Brake hose

Low elongation, minimal heat shrinkage


Power-steering hose

High elongation


Hydraulic hose

High tenacity

PES, Aramid, PVA

Fuel hose


Modal, steel

V-belt and toothed belt

High tenacity, high shrinkage force, low elongation

PES, glass

PES = polyethylene-styrene; PVA = polyvinyl acetate.

When conceiving a rubber formulation, its components can carefully be selected to obtain a wide variety of properties. The Tg determines their viscoelastic properties, and active fillers induce typical nonlinearities (dependence of deformation). Owing to a chemical network, elastomers have high failure tolerance with regard to solvents and peak temperatures.

Low strength, however, is a disadvantage of elastomers, as is sometimes their low modulus, but reinforcing elastomers with steel, textile or glass fibers can solve this problem. During the forming process, chemical crosslinking takes place that allows chemical bonding to take place between the elastomer and different substrates (fibers, wires, metal parts). When rigid materials are used as reinforce­ments, anisotropic components can be produced — that is, components that show high strength and elastic behavior in one or several directions, and high deform — ability and viscoelastic behavior in other directions. This unique combination of properties is taken advantage of in the manufacture of a wide variety of products that contribute 90% of the total amount of textile-reinforced products manufac­tured. Composites are mainly subject to dynamic stress and corrosive conditions, requiring strong and durable adhesion between the elastomer and the reinforce­ment to withstand the mechanical and chemical conditions, which can only be achieved by chemical bonds.


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