Many of the market leading anti-vibration mounts and bushes supplied by Fibet incorporate natural rubber. But where does natural rubber come from, and what are its advantages over synthetic alternatives?
It’s not just the ability to absorb vibration that makes natural rubber an ideal material to use in vibration isolation. It’s the rubber’s tensile strength, tear resistance and the ability to withstand deformity – that is, to return to its original shape again and again – that makes it a logical choice for demanding applications ranging from automotive to marine to agriculture.
Where does natural rubber come from?
Natural rubber is made from the latex that oozes from certain plants when cut. Snap a dandelion in two, for example, and you’ll see latex oozing from the stem. Although latex is found in around 200 species of plant and tree, around 99% of the world’s natural rubber comes from just one: the Hevea brasiliensis (or rubber) tree.
In its latex form the milky substance is primarily water, with rubber particles suspended within it. Once refined and vulcanised into coagulated lumps, however, the natural rubber can be processed into a huge range of products, including Fibet vibration isolation components.
Natural vs synthetic
By their nature, synthetic rubbers are manufactured for specific purposes and are highly effective when applied to their intended applications. Neoprene, for example, is more resistant to oil and chemicals than natural rubber, and is therefore the optimal choice for mechanical seals, laboratory hosing and plumbing fixtures.
Natural rubber, however, remains the ‘go-to’ rubber for around 40% of the world rubber market because of typical characteristics that include:
- High tensile strength
- Tear and abrasion resistance
- Ease of processing
- Dynamic performance
- Good low-temperature properties
- Low heat build-up
- Ease of bonding to metal parts
It is for this reason that natural rubber remains the natural choice for rubber gaskets, electrical components, hoses and tubes, drive couplings and anti-vibration mounts and buffers.