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All About 4 Different Types Of Rubber

When you remove a rubber band from your newspaper or fix a tire on your bicycle, you may understandably believe that rubber is a one-size-fits-all sort of substance. Now that you are in a business that uses o-rings and other materials made from rubber, you realize that this amazing and versatile material is available in a number of key varieties. More importantly, you know that if the wrong kind of rubber is used in a product, the entire inner workings could break down and catastrophe could ensue.

Let’s take a look at the different types of rubber and why it’s important to pick the right material for your products.


Viton-fluorocarbon is a type of rubber that combines high-temperature resistance with chemical resistance. Because they are so durable, o-rings made from this rubber are often used as seals for aircraft engines and automotive fuel handling systems. As you might expect, if an airplane manufacturer uses another kind of rubber o-ring — one that can’t handle a temperature range from -13 degrees to +446 degrees Fahrenheit — the results could be extremely deadly.

Natural Rubber

Also known as isoprene, natural rubber is made from the latex of the Para rubber tree. It is resistant to tearing or chipping, but it doesn’t do well in the heat. A lot of tubing and gaskets are made from natural rubber, including many common household items, like garden hoses. Natural rubber should not be used in any sort of product that must withstand high heat or a lot of light.

Styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR)

Styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) is an affordable type of rubber that features natural resistance to abrasion and is quite resilient and strong. On the flip side, SBR does not handle ozone or oils too well. SBR is a general-purpose rubber, and it is often used in tires, conveyor belts, shoe soles and adhesives, just to name a few.


If you are looking for an economical rubber, nitrile is your guy. It is also one of the most commonly used types of rubber in the seal industry. In addition to handling a wide range of temperatures, it can also deal with fuel, alcohol, petroleum-based oils and water. While it has high tensile strength, nitrile is not suggested for anything that comes in contact with automotive brake fluid or hydraulic fluids — it does not do well in these environments. Car mechanics should be careful not to put a seal made of nitrile in the brake system of a car, as it could cause a serious issue.

Know Your Rubber to Ensure Quality and Safe Products

It is interesting that a material that we may feel is somewhat generic is actually very nuanced and comes in a wide range of varieties. And while it probably wouldn’t matter too much if those handy rubber bands were made from an incorrect type of rubber, using the wrong variety for other uses would be far more serious. Anyone working in an industry that uses o-rings, gaskets, hoses and other items made from rubber should educate themselves about this amazing material and speak with the supplier about how it will be used to ensure they are getting the correct variety.

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