REDwire Vulcanization primer: The importance of vulcanized rubber

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Budlar Flexible Products can make a wide range of custom vulcanized o-rings.

Vulcanization is an important process. Its discovery revolutionized the use of rubber and had far-reaching effects throughout the industrial world.

Today, vulcanized rubber products are used in all types of applications. For example, Budlar Flexible Products — which offers Canada's largest inventory of rubber cord stock — has a complete vulcanizing department and can provide a wide range of custom vulcanized o-rings. Just some of the industries the company serves includes aircraft, mining, electronics, automotive, petroleum, farm equipment and construction equipment.

Vulcanizing process

The process involves adding sulphur or other curatives to natural rubber to convert it into more durable materials. Unvulcanized rubber is a poor choice of material when a high level of elasticity is desired. The reason for this inelasticity is the chemical structure of uncured natural rubber, as it is made up of long polymer chains that can move independently, allowing the material to change shape. Vulcanization introduces crosslinking that keeps these polymer chains from moving independently. That means that the vulcanized rubber will deform when stress is applied, but revert to its original shape once the stress is released.


Charles Goodyear was awarded a U.S. patent for vulcanization in 1844. His discovery was revolutionary because, before this, the only way to seal the gap between moving machine parts was with leather soaked in oil. The leather only worked at moderate pressures. At higher pressures, machine designers had to compromise between steam leakage and extra friction caused by tighter packing. Vulcanized rubber was the answer. This material could be precisely formed, would deform under pressure and then quickly recover. These qualities, as well as durability and lack of stickiness, made vulcanized rubber the ideal sealing material.

Vulcanized o-rings

Budlar Flexible Products offers custom vulcanized o-rings in a wide variety of compounds. They include Aflas, Buna White FDA, EPDM, neoprene, silicone and Viton. For more information, visit the company’s website.


Budlar Flexible Products Inc

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