Which Elastomer Offers The Best Abrasion Resistance?

When choosing the right base elastomer for use for any particular application, one of the primary considerations for many dynamic applications is the abrasion resistance; the ability to resist mechanical actions such as rubbing, scraping or erosion which removes material from the surface.

An abrasion resistant elastomer is able to withstand these types of mechanical wear and the property must be considered in instances where both moving and fixed components will be in constant or frequent contact with another material and be exposed to the aforementioned actions, specifically when the form of a component or product is essential for optimal functionality.

When identifying the most suitable rubber for use in a component or product based upon its abrasion resistance, it is important to consider the various options available and select the optimal elastomer based upon the end-use requirements.

In many instances, rubber as a material is able to absorb and survive a single instance of deformation, however when used in the manufacture of components which are exposed to mechanical actions, a process of micro-tearing can occur on the surface, gradually removing the material and resulting in eventual failure of the rubber, with abrasive wear often cited as a common cause of failure in a component or product.

Whilst many materials are made smooth by repeated manual actions, either through friction or abrasion with materials harder than themselves, with rubber, this process rarely occurs with other rubbers, apart from those which are grossly dissimilar. When the smooth surface of an elastomer is abraded over time, ridged patterns occur. Regardless of the end component, from tyres through to gaskets; such patterns occur as a result of abrasion in all applications.

There are, however, a number of elastomers which are naturally more durable than their counterparts, making them ideal for use in instances in which abrasion resistance is desirable.

Primarily utilising a range of 12 different elastomers for the manufacture of rubber sheeting, reinforced rubber sheeting and rubber coated textiles, our technicians are on hand to help inform decisions and to help make the research stage that little bit more straightforward.

Below you’ll find a comparison of our 12 most commonly utilised elastomers based upon their abrasion resistance properties rated ‘poor’ to ‘excellent.’

Please note: Whilst most main rubbers are outlined below, our capabilities and experience allow us to manufacture a much wider range of blends and formulations. The inherent characteristics of a polymer can be improved through the inclusion of additives, including the abrasion resistance.

Elastomer Abrasion Resistance
Nitrile Excellent
Polyurethane Excellent
SBR Excellent
Thermoplastic Elastomer Good / Excellent
Natural Rubber Good / Excellent
Butyl Good
Hypalon Good
Neoprene Good
Vamac Good
Viton Good
Silicone Fair

For the best mechanical strength, the options from the above are clearly Nitrile, Polyurethane and SBR and, in general, are regarded as the best options when abrasion resistance is required as the key property of a rubber component.

Nitrile is commonly used in applications requiring oil and solvent resistance, with a major market being the automotive industry, with major end uses including hoses, fuel lines, O-rings, gaskets and seals and the excellent abrasion resistant properties of the elastomer increase its suitability in these areas.

SBR, another elastomer with abrasion resistance rated as excellent, was originally developed as a general purpose elastomer and it still retains this distinction and is considered the most widely used and versatile, most commonly blended in the production of car tyres as well as a range of mechanical goods.

Any rubber compound whether it has abrasion resistant characteristics or not can be improved through the inclusion of additives and reinforcing fillers. Such ingredients can improve most compounds ability to withstand abrasive forces when effectively incorporated into the rubber matrix. Care needs to be taken when including abrasion resistant fillers and additives that other desirable properties are not sacrificed.

In many cases, the choice of base material must be a compromise of sorts with a number of different factors coming into play, both related and unrelated to the abrasion resistance of an elastomer, not forgetting the economics of a particular situation. By understanding the properties of each of the 12 base materials which we utilise in most instances, in relation to the specifications of an end-product, however, the options become far clearer.

Should you be looking for further information relating the abrasion resistance of any number of our main elastomers or wish to discuss a potential project which you are working on, we encourage you to give our technicians a call on 01524 585200 where we will be only more than happy offer guidance and assistance.