Bonding rubber and PTFE – the perfect combination?
Posted on 14/07/2013 Category: Technical Features
One of the key aspects of rubber is its friction co-efficient; bonding rubber and PTFE can be the ideal solution.
Friction is sometimes an asset, such as for tyres where grip is essential and carefully engineered, and other times a liability, where a compliant rubber seal needs to touch a moving surface in order to control the fluid it is wiping away, but creates too much friction or wear. One way of achieving the best of both worlds is bonding rubber and PTFE together to create a low friction, yet compliant, seal. There are a number of ways in which these dissimilar materials can be combined to create high performance products. For example, rotary or linear shaft seals often require a rubber element to energise the lip of the seal against the shaft that it moves against, however, if the tip speed of the seal is too great, it can overheat the fine seal lip and result in excessive wear and leaks. This is where a PTFE insert bonded right at the point of contact of the seal to the shaft can greatly reduce the friction and wear experienced, but be held in shape by the natural elasticity of the rubber surrounding and supporting it. Seals like this are of course more expensive to manufacture but for critical applications where overall performance cannot be delivered in any other way, they are very cost effective. All polymer types can be bonded to PTFE so a wide range of working environments can be accommodated, and, just as importantly, various grades of PTFE can be used. In order to achieve better strength, even lower friction or improved wear rates, PTFE can be modified with various fillers that extend the properties of the material to perform in specific ways, yet still bond to rubber to provide the perfect combination for any given application. Of course, the product does not have to be a seal, and indeed this process can be used for items such as composite wear pads where a PTFE block is bonded to a rubber carrier, to provide a compliant yet low friction surface for linear track applications, so the possibilities are endless for this combination of materials. In recent years, we have provided a number of innovative solutions for our customers using these materials and techniques, where real performance gains have been delivered. If you have an application where a compliant, low friction seal would be a benefit, then our expertise in bonding rubber and PTFE could be just the solution you need.
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