Explore the multiple applications of butyl rubber across various industries with advantages and disadvantages to see if it’s the ideal rubber for you.
As one of the first-ever rubber materials to be synthesised and developed in the early 20th century, the demand for butyl rubber continues to rise with a CAGR of 4.9% up to 2032. But despite being a versatile and dynamic material, does it suit the requirements for your project, product or manufacturing needs?
In this blog, we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of butyl rubber, its origins and whether its specific properties are suited to your industry requirements. Let’s explore.
We define butyl rubber as a combination of isobutylene (98%) and isoprene (2%) that creates a synthetic elastomer. Also referred to as “polyisobutylene”, or simply “butyl”, butyl rubber is a versatile and dynamic material used across multiple industrial and commercial applications.
As an elastomeric polymer used widely in adhesives and sealants, butyl rubber gets applied as a primary binder alongside tackifiers and modifier capabilities. For adhesive sealing, butyl rubber is used from a solvent-based solution with a shore hardness of 65° ± 5° and a smooth finish on both sides.
After isobutylene was created in 1825 by Michael Faraday, it took over 50 years to develop butyl rubber in 1937, following the creation of polyisobutylene (PIB) in 1931. Due to the growing demands of the automotive industry in the early 20th century, pressure to develop synthetic rubber came in the form of methyl-isoprene by Fritz Hoffman in 1909.
The introduction of butyl rubber proved beneficial during the first world war and accelerated its demand to create tires and tank treads. A few decades later, polyisobutylene was first synthesised before curing rates improved to develop variations in the 1960s, such as halogenated, chlorinated, and brominated butyl rubber. You can see these variations in abbreviations that typically appear like CIIR (chlorinated isobutylene isoprene rubber) and BIIR (brominated isobutylene isoprene rubber).
When using the monomer isobutylene, butyl rubber gets made from a process called “cationic vinyl polymerisation”. The cationic copolymerization of these two compounds creates butyl within a Friedel-Crafts catalyst at temperatures of -100°C.
By synthesizing at such low temperatures, this reaction forms incredibly quickly. The minor 2% addition of isoprene causes a vulcanisation effect, allowing the material to crosslink and double bond like natural rubber.
Vulcanising is a process that binds the rubber molecules to create one large single molecule. As a thermosetting process, vulcanisation happens after the butyl is first formed.
Butyl rubber is one of the only elastomers impervious to gases and makes an excellent sealant against air, water, and dust migration.
Butyl rubber doesn’t break down during the normal mill mixing process. As a biocompatible material, it also shows high resistance to acid and alkaline chemicals, ozone, heat, and weathering.
Depending on the application of your butyl rubber product, it has excellent ageing properties. For example, some butyl rubber roofing products will last over 60 years while butyl coating will last between 10-20 years, and butyl tape has been shown to stay elastic and pliable after 33 years.
Butyl rubber boasts an impressive temperature range of – 40°C to +140°C.
By being suitable for indoor and outdoor conditions, butyl rubber is a highly versatile material applied across multiple industries, such as electronics, commercial, and automotive.
Butyl rubber absorbs shocks and provides a decent NVH solution for machinery.
Despite boasting an impressive temperature range, butyl rubber has poor resistance to fire.
Not the best rebound rating compared to other rubbers when reforming from indentations and impacts.
Butyl rubber can sometimes trap air, blister, and creep during specific manufacturing processes.
Butyl rubber is not the most suitable rubber for use with petrol, solvents, and other oily fluids.
Due to the versatility of butyl rubber, it is widely used across multiple industries for various applications. Some of these applications include:
Whether working as a sealant, shock absorber or both, butyl rubber products are available in multiple forms. These products include:
You can expect all these butyl rubber products to be available in a range of thicknesses, starting from one millimetre up to 20mm, with custom options available.
At Ramsay Rubber Cellular Sealing Solutions, we only use materials from industry-approved suppliers across a range of trusted supply partners.
Our capabilities to manufacture custom-made butyl rubber samples can ensure you get the ideal solution for your project. So, if you have several materials under consideration, we’d be delighted to send you a sample pack, enabling you to find the perfect match for your requirements. Get in touch today for further details about butyl rubber products and solutions.
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