get some inquiries from website viewers who are looking for a
natural "rubber o-ring" so we thought we would publish
a few words about what a "rubber o-ring" really is.
(This is for the novice, not for those of you who have been working
with o-rings for awhile.)
is virtually impossible to find an o-ring that is made from natural
rubber - the stuff that comes from rubber trees - today. What
you will find instead is a product that is made out of a synthetic
material, called an elastomer, that looks, feels and behaves like
one might think natural rubber would. But today different synthetic
materials have been developed to withstand greater temperature
and pressure ranges, to resist harsh chemicals, and to stand up
under tough conditions such as abrasion and exposure to ozone
Some of the elastomers offered today are:
- FKM Fluorocarbon
- Nitrile or Buna-N
you buy an o-ring, you need to choose the elastomer carefully
so that it will do exactly what you want and also to make sure
you are not paying for attributes you do not need. So what do
you do if you just want a plain old black "rubber o-ring"
for a simple application like sealing a jar? Then you probably
want to use Nitrile (also called Buna-N). It is the cheapest elastomer
and works great for most applications; it is the kind thing you
might find in your kitchen faucet.
of Natural Rubber:
trees grow naturally in South America and the South American natives
used the product for many years before the Europeans came across
it in their travels in the 18th Century. In 1736 several rolls
of rubber were sent to France and the Europeans were fascinated
with its properties. Then in 1791 Samuel Peal discovered he could
waterproof cloth by treating it with a solution of rubber in turpentine.
He began manufacturing the cloth and selling it.
1830 rubber had gained popularity in the United States but people
did not like the fact that it was brittle in cold weather and
smelled badly when it was warm. It also became soft in warm weather.
Then, in 1830, Charles Goodyear invented a process called Vulcanization.
In the process of Vulcanization, rubber was cooked with sulphur.
This improved the tendency of the product to become brittle in
cold weather and smell and soften in hot weather. It also gave
the product greater strength and elasticity, made it more resistant
to chemicals and water, and gave it other desirable qualities.
1877, Chapman Mitchell invented a process for recycling old rubber
and using it to produce new products. Today we have very sophisticated
manufacturing processes which mostly consists of adding different
ingredients to get a variety of compounds. Vulcanization is still
carried out today but under the condition of high pressure.
as the product has become, none of the rubber compounds manufactured
today will find their way into a rubber o-ring. The elastomers
have taken over.