Published: Jan 2010
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HISTORICAL BACKGROUND Petroleum products covering a molecular weight range that includes light solvents, lubricating oils, waxes, and residual materials have been used with rubber for at least 150 years. Today, these same products are still used, and, since the advent of synthetic rubber, their use has reached greater proportions than ever before. This chapter, however, will be limited to petroleum oils. Why are such products usable when one normally thinks of oils as the enemy of rubber? The explanation is that the degrading effect of oils on vulcanized rubber is put to use as a softener for unvulcanized rubber. Rubber, both natural and synthetic, is somewhat elastic in the raw state. It is broken down by mechanical or chemical means to a more plastic state prior to adding the necessary compounding ingredients. Oils are added to the rubber compound that make the rubber compound more workable and pliable. Materials that cause this softening effect are called softeners. They also are called processing aids or plasticizers.
Long, John M.
Technical Service Manager, Lion Copolymer LLC, North Canton, OH
Bachmann, John H.
Product Specialist, Rubber Process Oils, Holly Refining and Marketing-Tulsa LLC, Tulsa, OK