How Custom Rubber Parts Are Manufactured
Rubber is an essential component of many machines and tools. Rubber parts keep liquids flowing between multiple parts, cushion moving parts, and form flexible structures. If you have a project or design that requires rubber parts, a rubber manufacturer can create parts to your exact specifications. To create three-dimensional rubber objects to completely custom specifications, manufacturers use a variety of shaping techniques. Here are three of the most common techniques used to shape and form rubber into usable objects.
One of the best uses of rubber is forming a seal between two objects. Rubber seals are used to seal everything from doors and windows to pressure cookers and food storage containers. These seals are often extruded. When rubber is extruded, it forms a long, thin, and bubble-free shape, but that shape doesn't have to be simple. Some extruded designs include U-shaped channels, half-round tubes, L-shaped strips, and P-shaped tubes. These complex designs can be built around foam cores or left empty. Since extrusion simply pushes material through a die, extruded rubber parts can come in almost any length. After the die has been produced, manufacturers can also create large volumes of identical extruded parts without much additional effort, so custom extruded parts are often inexpensive.
The most complex rubber objects are typically molded rather than extruded. This process works well for parts of all shapes and sizes, and there are two major molding methods. For simple designs, manufacturers use compression molding. This technique involves placing a measured amount of hot rubber into a mold and compressing it to force it into every detail of the mold. For more complicated designs, manufacturers use injection molding. To do this, technicians heat the rubber until it is plasticized. Then, they inject it under high pressure into a mold. With these two techniques, manufacturers can create a wide variety of rubber parts in almost any shape. Note that compression molding is much cheaper than injection molding because it is less dangerous and requires less precision.
If your parts are relatively thin or flat, like rubber gaskets, you may be able to have them cut from a sheet of rubber. Manufacturers cut rubber sheets with lathes, dies, or water jets, depending on the thickness of the rubber and the complexity of the design. Typically lathe and water-jet cutting are used to create relatively simple parts. For more complex parts, like detailed gaskets that must bridge the gaps between multiple pipes or piston cylinders, manufacturers create custom dies. Technicians press these dies into rubber sheets, creating perfectly uniform rubber gaskets and seals.
To learn more about rubber forming techniques, contact a custom rubber parts manufacturer in your area.