When looking for a rubber parts manufacturer, you must understand the difference between natural rubber and EPDM before ordering.
EPDM is short for ethylene propylene diene monomer, and is a synthetic form of rubber often used in flat roofing or low slope applications. This is distinctly different from natural rubber, which comes from trees.
But before we dive into the differences, here’s a quick breakdown of each.
Natural rubber is a polymer that is derived from the latex sap of the Hevea brasiliensis tree. The sap is collected from the tree by making a small incision in the bark, which allows it to flow out. The sap is then collected and processed to extract the rubber.
EPDM rubber, on the other hand, is man made from petroleum and natural gas. It is created by polymerizing the byproducts of crude oil processing (i.e., isoprene). The resulting polymer is highly resistant to heat, ozone, weathering, and more.
Although they look very similar, there are quite a few differences between natural rubber and EPDM that can’t be seen with the naked eye. Aside from the difference in source, these two types of rubber also differ in the following:
Some of the key properties of natural rubber include:
- Great wear and tear resistance
- High elongation
- High resistance to acids, extreme temperatures, and water
- High elasticity
- Abrasion resistance
- Good insulation
- Excellent tear strength
- Good processability
- High tensile strength
- Low heat build-up
- Low odor
EPDM also offers many similar properties, including extreme flexibility and resistance to water, steam, temperature, UV, and weathering. This type of rubber is also highly resistant to chemicals and has good electrical insulation properties.
It beats out natural rubber when it comes to resistance to oil and related compounds and thermal stability, but it does fall short in its mechanical properties. To counteract this, EPDM is often compounded with plasticisers and fillers to increase its flexibility and strength, like mineral oils and fumed silica.
Natural rubber is commonly used in the production of tires, conveyor belts, hoses, and seals. Thanks to its unique properties, it can also be used to make hydrophobic gear, products that hold gas, and items that need to withstand friction.
EPDM is most commonly used in the automotive and construction industries. This is because of its weather and water resistance making it the perfect choice for trunk, door, window, and hood seals. Its durability and ability to withstand friction make it a great choice for windshield wipers, and its UV resistance makes it perfect for roofing.
EPDM is also used in the tubings of thermostats, water pumps, radiators, oil coolers, and EGR valves, thanks to its ability to carry different oils and chemicals without breaking down. It can often be seen in harsh environments like laboratories and factories. Various gaskets, diaphragms, geomembranes, tubings, grommets, and belts are also made using EPDM. This allows your HVAC systems to run smoothly, reliably, and quietly.
Natural rubber is generally more expensive than EPDM due to its higher cost of raw materials, limited availability, and the cost of production. EPDM, on the other hand, is relatively cheap and widely available from any rubber parts manufacturer.
Natural rubber and EPDM are two of the most commonly used types of rubber in the industry. They have different properties and characteristics that make them suitable for different applications. At Mark Tool & Rubber Co, Inc, we provide high-quality colored EPDMs, high-tech polymer resin binders, buffings, and rubberized mulch for a wide variety of agriculture, residential, and commercial environments. Contact us today to request a quote!