September 26

Hear from Custom Rubber and Urethane Experts

Polyurethane Parts vs. Rubber Parts

Offshore oil and gas extraction equipment and fleet vehicles take a lot of abuse, and traditional rubber parts sometimes can't handle it week after week, month after month.

More companies are discovering that urethane and polyurethane parts offer some distinct and attractive advantages over conventional rubber parts.

Most OEMs use rubber parts and many repair services do not offer polyurethane replacement options. And in many cases, this is sufficient.

But urethane and polyurethane usually withstand more abrasion resistance.

ATRO Engineered Systems founder and chairman George Sturmon explains it this way: "It’s not a little bit better, it’s not medium-size better. It’s just hugely better than rubber.”

Here's why.


Polyurethane is an ultra high-strength elastomer. One of its most attractive properties is its resistance to chemicals, pressure, swelling, cracking, and abrasion. It also stands up better than rubber against cuts, tears, and other damage. It has a much higher tensile strength than rubber, meaning it will maintain its integrity under very heavy loads.


Cast polyurethane parts simply work better and more efficiently than rubber parts. They have superior vibrational absorption capacities and are still able to maintain all of the desirable properties of their rubber counterparts.


The high level of damage resistance helps to make polyurethane one of the most durable and long-lasting materials for parts manufacturing. Tests have shown polyurethane parts to last 3-5 times longer than their standard rubber equivalents.

Mark Tool custom molded urethane products.

Cost Savings

Because they are more resistant to damage and deterioration, polyurethane parts generally need to be replaced less often than rubber parts. While polyurethane parts might cost more initially, they’ll likely save you money in the long run by reducing the frequency at which your fleet requires repairs.

Also remember that wear and tear on smaller parts eventually wears out the larger and more expensive parts and systems of a vehicle. Investing in polyurethane parts now will save you money in parts, labor, and reduced downtime over the long haul.


Because the chemical properties of urethane can be altered through chemical engineering, specific issues can be addressed with custom-cast urethane parts. Polyurethane parts can actually be formulated to meet your unique specifications and goals.

Companies and individuals on the cutting edge of the manufacturing industry recognize the advantage of urethane and polyurethane in heavy duty fleet parts.

According to Jerry D. Plunkette, a metallurgist and materials expert: "There are ten times as many urethane possibilities as there are rubber possibilities. The properties of urethane are so superior in almost all its physical properties that rubber really is not a good competitor. It simply can't compete.”

The Mark Tool Advantage

"One of the things that sets us apart is we do urethane and rubber,” says Mark Tool Co., Inc. Chief Operating Officer Jerome Hebert. "Most of our competitors do one or the other.”

This is an advantage to the customer because Mark Tool won’t try to push them towards rubber or urethane/polyurethane. Instead, they’ll discuss their needs and create a custom order that is appropriate.

"We ask a lot of questions up front,” Hebert says. "The client will come in with drawings, and we’ll ask them about operating temperatures, if the pipes are above or below ground, if they are subsea, what kind of chemicals they will come into contact with, and things like that."

Hebert explains that polyurethane parts actually aren’t always more expensive than rubber parts, especially when runs of multiple identical parts are needed. A mold is created to cast the urethane parts, and once they are cast, there is no machining required afterwards. Rubber parts, however, require machining and grinding, which can drive up the costs.

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