Vulcanized rubber dates back to 1839 when Charles Goodyear accidentally discovered the pressure vulcanization method. As the story goes, he went to the general store to display his latest sulfur and rubber mixture one day, but when Goodyear got excited, he fortuitously threw some of the rubber. It landed on a stove, which turned it into elastic rubber. Sulfur and heat are associated with the ancient Roman god of fire, Vulcan, hence vulcanization.
What does the vulcanization process involve?
Pressure vulcanization involves heating natural or synthetic rubber mixed with sulfur to enhance the rubber’s physical properties. Depending on the type of rubber involved, the heating process can require temperatures up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
The result is a stronger, nonstick rubber product that’s elastic over a greater range of temperatures as well as more resistant to abrasion and swelling. The process also prevents the rubber from returning to its original shape after it cools. Vulcanized rubber can be processed and then cut or customized into different products for specialized uses such as protective equipment and tank linings.
How do fabricators use vulcanized rubber as a lining?
Fabricators clean surfaces of materials they’ll line with rubber using abrasive blast cleaning techniques and sometimes also roughen surfaces so rubber adheres better. Next, they apply adhesive to material surfaces and, depending on the materials, may use multiple adhesive coats. They then cut rubber sheets and use rollers and stichers to push rubber into the adhesive and press out bubbles. Then fabricators test the rubber lining for pinholes and air pockets using electricity. Once they cure the lined materials using a high pressure system, they also test for hardness and softness as well as do a visual inspection.
Pressure vulcanization takes place in an autoclave or vulcanizer made to industry standards for safety and performance. Think of a giant pressure cooker that can withstand incredibly high temperatures during the vulcanization process. Steam and electric based autoclaves use either steam or compression pressure.
Vulcanized rubber linings can withstand high temperatures, abrasion, impacts, and corrosion, allowing tanks and piping to last longer.
Moon Fabricating professionals implement this technology
At Moon Fabricating, we have exceptional vulcanization equipment as well as extensive experience handling this type of labor. State of the art electronic monitoring controls our high pressure steam vulcanization process to provide superior rubber lining bonding and curing. We have vulcanizers in two sizes to accommodate larger components and smaller pieces, providing economical options for parts of all sizes so you can save on costs.