Rubber & Silicone Development Services
ACE Laboratories is proud to offer industry-leading compound development services and technical guidance. Our experts can formulate high-performance compounds that meet even the most stringent specifications. We also offer root cause analysis, reverse engineering, and benchmarking services to support every step of the compound and product development process.
RUBBER COMPOUND DEVELOPMENT
Many rubber product manufacturers produce their rubber compounds in massive batches for the sake of efficiency. However, if a batch ends up failing to meet expectations, it can be extremely costly and wasteful. That’s why it’s imperative to ensure that a compound formulation has been optimized before investing in large-scale production. But many manufacturers don’t have the resources or capacity to conduct testing on small batches of every iteration of a given compound.
ACE Laboratories offers comprehensive small-batch mixing and rubber testing services for manufacturers seeking to optimize their rubber compounds or test multiple iterations of a compound recipe. Our labs are equipped with four types of industrial mixers:
- Tangential four-wing BR Banbury
- Tangential tilt body mixer
- Sigma blade mixer
- Ross mixer
Our mixing and compounding experts have years of experience working with a wide range of base polymers:
Natural rubber is a highly desirable base polymer for rubber compounds due to its excellent resilience, tensile strength, and resistance to tear and fatigue. Many industries rely on specialized natural rubber compounds for a wide range of products and applications. One of the largest consumers of natural rubber is the tire industry. Many passenger, truck, and off-the-road (OTR) tire components are made with natural rubber compounds. Natural rubber compounds are also used to make a wide variety of mechanical rubber goods (MRGs).
When developing a synthetic rubber compound, there are many base polymers to choose from, based on desired performance characteristics, budget, and other factors. Manufacturers must consider the product’s intended use and service environment when making their selections. For example, styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) is often considered a “general purpose” synthetic rubber due to its fatigue resistance and affordability. However, polyisobutylene rubber, also called “butyl,” is a superior choice for any type of damping product, such as a seismic absorber, because of its superior damping properties and impermeability.
What separates silicone rubber from synthetic and natural rubbers is its outstanding service temperature range. Silicone rubber remains stable and chemically inert from -100°C (-148°F) to 225°C (437°F), making it a fantastic choice for rubber compounds that must operate in volatile service environments with extreme temperatures.
INGREDIENTS USED IN COMPOUND DEVELOPMENT
Most rubber compounds contain at least one base polymer and additional ingredients that serve a variety of important functions. These additional ingredients can be grouped into four categories:
Depending on the service environment, rubber compounds can be exposed to many different stressors in the field, including heat, ozone, abrasion, specific fluids, and more. Antidegradants can be added to slow the aging process of the compound and improve its resistance to various stressors.
The cure system is what triggers cross-linking between individual polymer chains, a process called vulcanization. Cure systems are vital to achieve the firm, sturdy quality that makes rubber so desirable.
A filler is an ingredient that adds bulk or heft to a rubber compound. Some fillers, such as carbon black and silica, provide additional reinforcement to the structure of the compound. Other fillers, such as talc and clay, are non-reinforcing. Fillers may also be used to bring down the cost of a compound by increasing the overall volume via the addition of inexpensive filler materials. For this reason, fillers are occasionally referred to as “extenders.”
The processability of a given compound can be changed or improved with the addition of a process aid. There are many types of process aids available, including oils, waxes, resins, softeners, and more.
Our compounding team at ACE is incredibly well versed in the many additives available to rubber manufacturers and how these additives affect both the final compound and each other. We can help you choose the best options based on your budget and your product’s intended service environment.
DEVELOPMENTAL SERVICES FOR RUBBER COMPOUNDS
Some rubber compound formulations are iterations on a previous version. Others must be developed entirely from scratch. The development process can be driven by a variety of requirements, including:
- A standard issued by an industry governing body or an OEM.
- A particular service environment.
- A desired performance characteristic.
- Budgetary constraints.
- Supply chain issues limiting access to certain materials.
The team at ACE Laboratories has the compounding expertise and industry experience to support companies seeking to improve upon existing compounds or create new ones. We can help you develop the right formulation for your specific needs and find the balance between potentially conflicting requirements.
TESTING SERVICES FOR RUBBER COMPOUNDS
Laboratory batches of rubber compounds are often subjected to comprehensive lab testing to determine whether the compound demonstrates the necessary properties. A test batch may undergo physical properties testing, environmental exposure testing, chemical analysis, and other evaluations, and that data may be used to develop the next iteration of the compound.
ACE’s compounding facilities are co-located with our comprehensive rubber testing laboratories. We offer a wide range of on-site testing services and some of the fastest turnaround times in the industry, so you can maximize efficiency when developing and iterating on a compound formulation. We can recreate extreme service environments, test for compliance with industry standards, and predict the lifecycle of a compound, all in a controlled laboratory environment. We can benchmark multiple batches at once, so you can make choices based on objective data.
We also offer a wide range of testing services for rubber products that have seen service. Our rubber testing laboratories are equipped with the necessary instrumentation and tools to conduct forensic analyses. We can help you quantify how your product has changed while in service, determine the root cause of an unexplained issue—and work with you to find a solution.
COMPOUND DEVELOPMENT SERVICES FROM ACE LABORATORIES
ACE Laboratories is proud to offer compound development and testing services at our ISO 17025-accredited laboratories. Our compounding team has worked in industry as well as a laboratory setting, so we understand the real-world challenges our clients often face. Whether you’re looking to develop a new compound or understand an existing one, we can help.