Compounding and processing of elastomers
The performance of elastomers in technical applications are determined by the presence of reinforcing, often nanoscaled, fillers. The whole processing chain for materials preparation till application consists of two main steps: During rubber specific compounding procedures the required ingredients of the rubber formulation rubber polymers, reinforcing fillers, vulcanization agents, processing aids will be transferred into a homogeneous rubber compound, whereas the resulting dispersion and distribution of the reinforcing fillers inside the rubber matrix plays a crucial and quality-determining role for the target properties of the vulcanizates as well as the thermos-rheological processing characteristics of the compounds.
In the subsequent molding step by further thermo-mechanical and thermo-chemical processes (flow and material deformation and vulcanization by chemical cross-linking) alter the properties, i.e. by orientation of fillers, and thus determine the typical elastomeric material properties by formation of a three-dimensional polymer network.