Elastomer materials are those materials that are made of polymers that are joined by chemical bonds, acquiring a final slightly cross-linked structure.
An elastomer we can assimilate to the following example; imagine that on a table we have a set of strings mixed, each of these strings it’s represent a polymer, we introduce a relatively small effort if we want to separate the strings each other’s, now began to make knots between each of the strings, we see that as more knots that we made more ordered and rigid becomes all the strings, the knots of the strings is representing the chemical bonds, with a certain degree knots, or chemical bonds, more strongly stress need to apply to the strings in order to separate them, also we can observed that when we stress the string the length and the size of the strings increase and when we left to apply the stress the strings return to the initial length.
The main characteristic of elastomer materials is the high elongation and flexibility or elasticity of these materials, against its breaking or cracking. Depending on the distribution and degree of the chemical bonds of the polymers, elastomeric materials can have properties or characteristics similar to thermosets or thermoplastics, so elastomeric materials can be classified into:
- Thermoset Elastomers – are those elastomer materials which do not melt when heated.
- Thermoplastic Elastomers – are those elastomers which melt when heated.
Properties of Elastomer materials:
- Cannot melt, before melting they pass into a gaseous state
- Swell in the presence of certain solvents
- Are generally insoluble.
- Are flexible and elastic.
- Lower creep resistance than the thermoplastic materials
Examples and applications of elastomer plastic materials:
- Natural rubber – material used in the manufacture of gaskets, shoe heels…
- Polyurethanes – Polyurethanes are used in the textile industry for the manufacture of elastic clothing such as Lycra, also used as foam, wheels, etc.
- Polybutadiene – elastomer material used on the wheels or tires of vehicles, given the extraordinary wear resistance.
- Neoprene – Material used primarily in the manufacture of wetsuits is also used as wire insulation, industrial belts, etc.