Hongju’s Rubber is a leading rubber manufacturer with a range of rubber products to create your customized prototype. With over two decades of experience, the company has proven capabilities for creating rubber products for any industry.
This article thoroughly explores rubber prototyping, including its benefits and what to consider to create a successful prototype. Kindly read along.
What is Rubber Prototyping？
Rubber prototyping is the process of creating rubber prototypes. Prototypes are samples or models of a final product. With prototypes, you can evaluate and verify the fit and function of a product before mass producing it. This is essential to saving money and time because you are sure that your final product will match your desired specifications.
Types of Molds Used in the Rubber Prototyping Process
1. Polyurethane Molding
Polyurethane is a versatile material with high load-bearing capacity, tears, and impact resistance. Polyurethane molding involves introducing and curing polyurethane material in a mold to create a plastic product. This material can undergo compression or injection molding to create products like insulation panels, tires, seals, and gaskets.
2. Silicone Molding
Silicone is a weather-resistant material with outstanding temperature stability. The silicone molding process can either be liquid injection or compression molding to form strong rubber products. Some silicone rubber products include rubber feet, seals, gaskets, adhesives, and sealants.
3. Rubber Molding
The rubber molding process molds natural, raw rubber into usable plastic products. The natural rubber has excellent tear and abrasion resistance. Rubber can undergo compression molding, injection molding, and transfer molding to form molded products, including hot water bottles, seals, rubber boots, and shoe soles.
4. Urethane Rubber Molding
Urethane rubber is different from polyurethane. While polyurethane is a rigid material for frozen plastic products, urethane rubber has excellent flexibility and malleability. Urethane rubber molding can undergo compression molding and injection molding. These processes mold liquid urethane rubber into products, including tires, rubber bands, and footwear.
5. Epoxy Rubber Molding
Although epoxy is a resin, blending it with different types of rubber toughens the material, creating epoxy rubber. This material can undergo transfer molding, compression molding, and injection molding. In addition, epoxy-rubber blends are used to make paints, coatings, and adhesives.
6. Plaster Casting
The plaster mold casting process creates a mold from water, gypsum, and strengthening compounds. The plaster sets in about 15 minutes, creating a mold. The plaster mold casting is ideal for creating gears, toolings, and valves. You can also use it to create prototypes of your product.
The Benefits of Rubber Prototyping
Rubber prototyping has many benefits to your manufacturing process. Some of these benefits include the following;
Understanding your product design: Prototypes bring your ideas to life. They give you a physical representation of your potential product, helping you understand your ideas as finished designs.
Minimizing design errors: You may not see the errors in your design while they are on paper or on a computer. However, with a physical prototype, you identify potential flaws during the product development process. Furthermore, you can refine the product and adjust the prototype’s properties, including color, shape, and texture.
Saving time and money: Because you can identify flaws in your design and make corrections to your prototype, you don’t have to have finished products before noticing the errors. Consequently, you get to save time and resources on post-production defects.
The Applications of Rubber Prototypes
Rubber prototypes have applications in many industries, including medical, automotive, transportation, and consumer goods. These industries require custom parts and durable yet flexible rubber products. Other industries that use highly detailed rubber components include telecommunications, aerospace, and construction.
Each industry has its desired property and rubber specifications. The table below shows the type of rubber prototypes used across several industries.
|Seals, gaskets, rubber gloves
|Rubber gloves, hoses, footwear
|Healthcare and medical
|Surgical devices, custom implants, rubber coatings, and grommets
|Floor mats, gaskets, seals, and shock absorbers
|Manufacturing and construction
|o-rings, window seals, adhesives and sealants, flooring, and tires
|Swimming goggles, tennis balls, flooring, rubber cords
|Military and defense
|Rubber bullets, grommets, hose, gloves, and footwear
|Rubber tires, tubing, hoses, and washers
|Printing and paper
|Sheets, pads, hoses, and rollers
Tips for Creating a Successful Rubber Prototype
The purpose of creating a rubber prototyping is to understand your product and make adjustments to create a perfect fit for the consumers. Nevertheless, you have to take steps to ensure your prototype’s success. Here are a few tips for creating a successful prototype:
- Know your needs. All products have different requirements and purposes. Knowing exactly what you need is the first step in creating a successful prototype.
- Know your product’s purpose and application requirements. For instance, if your product is multipurpose and needs exceptional strength, you must use a prototyping method that creates mechanically sound products.
- Make your product valuable and easy to use. You can work with suppliers to create custom prototypes with the best materials.
- Consider the material you are using to make the prototype. All materials have unique properties, including flexibility, durability, and temperature resistance. Understanding each material’s uniqueness is vital in creating a successful prototype.
- Keep working on your prototype. After creating a prototype, testing and working on it is essential until you get a perfect fit. Because a prototype is not the final product, you can keep working on it till it is accurate.
The Process of Rubber Prototyping
The rubber prototyping process starts with working with technical experts. You communicate your needs, the product’s purpose, and specific applications during this stage. The technical experts can then test and recommend materials to suit your prototype.
After approving the material, an initial prototype will be manufactured for you to check and test. If the prototype matches your specifications and needs, you can move ahead to mass production of your molded rubber products.
What Rubber Materials are Used in Prototyping?
Elastomers are necessary for the rubber prototyping process. However, there are different rubber types, each with unique material properties. Synthetic and natural rubber are used to create rubber parts, and they all have the most suitable applications.
The most common rubber materials used in rapid prototyping services include;
- Natural rubber
- Butyl rubber
- Silicone rubber
- Styrene butadiene
Natural rubber is commonly known as latex. This material is obtained from the rubber tree and is an elastomer used in several rubber prototypes and industrial applications. Although this type of rubber has superior tear and tensile strength, it has poor weather resistance.
Thus, natural rubber is suitable for rubber prototypes not used in prolonged outdoor applications. Some rubber prototypes that use natural rubber include seals, gaskets, balloons, and rubber boots.
Butyl rubber is a highly flexible synthetic rubber with excellent ozone, weather, and chemical resistance. This rubber, especially when vulcanized, is durable. Rubber prototyping applications that use butyl rubber include sealants and adhesives, electrical insulation, and inner tubings in tires.
Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM)
EPDM is probably the most water-resistant type of rubber. This rubber possesses outstanding properties, including excellent temperature stability, flexibility, and electrical insulation. Furthermore, EPDM has good chemical resistance and is suitable for outdoor applications. Rubber prototyping applications using EPDM rubber include tubing, belts, automotive seals, and roofing membrane. Furthermore, this type of rubber is used to manufacture o-rings, gaskets, and seals.
Silicone rubber is the most versatile elastomer and has both organic and inorganic properties. Because of its versatility, this rubber possesses heat resistance, high elasticity, chemical stability, and oil resistance. Furthermore, silicone has outstanding tensile and tear strength and compression sets compared to conventional rubber.
Rubber applications that use silicone rubber include silicone keypads, seals and gaskets, food and medical products, textiles, and household products.
SBR has similar properties to natural rubber; hence, it is a synthetic alternative. This type of rubber has better abrasion and heat resistance than natural rubber. Furthermore, because of its lower cost and non-toxicity, this type of rubber is used in applications, including shoe soles, floor tiles, adhesives, and car tires.
Neoprene is an excellent alternative to natural rubber. This material is more durable and has outstanding properties that make it suitable for various applications. Properties of this type of rubber include oxygen and ozone resistance, chemical resistance, heat resistance, and UV-light resistance.
Rubber prototypes that employ neoprene rubber include industrial gaskets, tubings, hoses, prosthetics, and sports goods, including diving suits.
FKM is otherwise known by its trademarked name Viton. This type of synthetic rubber has an outstanding heat resistance and mechanical properties that make it suitable for automotive applications. In addition, FKM is known for its heat resistance, chemical stability, and weather resistance.
FKM is used in rubber prototyping for chemical processing, aerospace, and oil and gas applications. In addition, it is used in producing seals, gaskets, valves, and pumps.
Hydrogenated Nitrile Butadiene (HNBR)
HNBR is formed from hydrogenating nitrile rubber. This type of rubber has improved weather, chemical, and ozone resistance. Consequently, it is suitable for medical, industrial, and automotive applications.
HNBR is used for rubber prototypes, including belts, hoses, and gloves.
Rubber prototyping helps you refine your design and minimize errors. You also get to save resources and file a patent. With all these benefits, rubber prototypes are applicable in several industries, including medical, consumer goods, and aerospace.
Contact Hongju for Your Rubber Prototyping Needs
Hongju rubber is a leading silicone rubber manufacturer that customizes rubber products, including grommets, gaskets, seals, and o-rings, to suit your needs. Our experts will discuss with you to know your product specifications and recommend materials for the best results. Furthermore, we have a fast turnaround and excellent customer service to meet your needs.
Reach out for a quote today!