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The term elastomer or rubber is applied to any material which is capable of recovering from large deformations quickly and forceably. A vast number of materials of widely different compositions fit this description. Polymers vary from products of the rubber tree to synthetic polymers consisting largely of the element sulfur. Finished products contain two to twelve ingredients in addition to the basic polymer. Each product differs in properties including physiological reactions.
The physical properties of a rubber part are determined by the type of polymer, the other ingredients used, and, to a lesser extent, by the fabricating technique. Proper choice of materials is essential for successful performance. The complex requirements of surgical implants make this a difficult and complicated problem which requires the combined efforts of medical specialists and elastomer experts.
Rubber can be fabricated into a large variety of useful shapes. Complex shapes of closely controlled dimensions can be formed by molding. Shapes of uniform cross section can be made continuously by extrusion. Rubber can be bonded to metal or coated on fabric for increased strength and stiffness. It can be made into sponge or foam of varying degrees of porosity.
Konkle, G. M.
Dow Corning Corp., Midland, Mich.