One of the most interesting things about rubber is that it is incredibly variant. The material has become one of the most versatile in the world, and we see it all around us in manufacturing and even regular consumer items.
It’s understandable that rubber will be so divergent – it already is one of the most versatile materials in the world. But, this divergent nature of the material also brings the subject of how to know which rubber option to use. And recently, polyacrylate rubber – or, as they call it, ACM – has become an especially popular option.
In this article, we’ll look into what polyacrylate rubber is and what makes the material especially unique.
What Is ACM Rubber Material?
So, let’s get right to it – what is Polyacrylate rubber?
You might not know it, but you engage with polyacrylate rubber more than you know. This here is a member of the elastomer family, and some experts call it other names like “Acrylic rubber” or “ACM rubber.” So, if you see any of those, just be aware that this is the material in question.
Generally, ACM rubber is gotten from a process known as polymerization where monomers of the acrylate material are combined. These monomers are compounds that have the acrylate group in them, and their synthesis and combination in a controlled environment leads to the rise of the ACM rubber material.
In terms of its chemical structure, ACM rubber derives its form from the primary acrylate monomer, which itself is derived from acrylic acid as well. Its structure looks generally like this:
That said, it is also worth noting that some manufacturers tend to copolymerize polyacrylate rubber with other monomers in order to optimize its properties and make it generally more desirable. With that in mind, you can find a few of the following components in the material:
- Butyl Acrylate (BA): A monomer, BA generally helps to ensure that the ACM rubber polymer structure is able to maintain its flexibility even when it’s being used in low temperatures.
- Ethyl Acrylate (EA): Besides bolstering the polymer’s flexibility in the cold, this component also improves its ability to soak up physical impact.
- Acrylonitrile (AN): If you want your rubber polymer to hold off against oil, then this component is generally required.
- Methyl Methacrylate (MMA): Overall, this component also helps to improve several of the polymer’s general physical properties.
Remember – you can generally make changes to this composition based on what you’re looking to achieve and the properties you desire your polyacrylate rubber to have. Thanks to the magic of copolymerization, you will be able to generally customize your formulation as you wish.
The Properties Of ACM Rubber
For manufacturers, not much matters when choosing a material quite like the properties it offers. And when it comes to polyacrylate rubber, you can bet that it packs quite a punch.
ACM Rubber’s Chemical Properties
To begin with, let’s take a look at the chemical properties that really make this material quite unique.
It Holds Off Fuels & Oils
The first thing that makes this material especially attractive to many manufacturers is that it is very resistant to different forms of oils. From hydrocarbons to vegetable oils and more, ACM rubber does well to hold them at bay.
Optimal Performance In Heat
Another of the most impressive chemical properties of ACM rubber is the fact that the material exhibits an impressive level of heat resistance. You will find that much of its use is in situations where it will most likely encounter higher temperatures, and ACM rubber holds its own quite well.
It Can Resist Weather Elements
Weathering doesn’t affect ACM rubber at all. At the same time, the material also exhibits optimal resistance to ozone. As you will imagine, the material can be used outside, even taking up direct contact with the sun and its dangerous rays.
It Is Stable With Chemicals
You get a considerable amount of chemical inertness when it comes to ACM rubber. When it combines with bases and acids, the material exhibits optimal stability. Now, while this factor will depend on the overall composition of the polymer, it remains a relatively solid option all in all.
Flexibility In The Cold
As we mentioned earlier, polyacrylate rubber can also optimize its flexible properties when it is subjected to overly low temperatures. You can use it in the cold and not have to fear or worry about it becoming too brittle.
Flammability Is Very Low
One of the unique chemical properties of ACM rubber is that the material resists flames quite well. Combined with its heat resistance, you’ll find that the material is quite stable in the presence of elevated temperatures.
It Resists Electrical Current
With its optimal electrical insulation levels, ACM rubber does quite well in some electronic and electrical situations.
It Sets After Compression
Optimal compression set resistance is needed if you have a material that will be subjected to a considerable amount of physical pressure. And on this front, you can rest assured that ACM rubber will do just fine.
Compress the material as you’d like, and it’ll come right back to its original shape and form.
It Can Be Lubricated
Unlike a lot of other rubbers, ACM rubber works in functions where you might need to add a bit of lubrication here and there. Lubricating greases and oils don’t affect it, and the material is generally easy to work with.
The Physical Properties Of ACM Rubber
Next, let’s take a proper look at some of the major physical properties of Poly ACM rubber to determine whether the material truly is worth the hype.
It’s A Hard, Strong Rubber
If you’re looking for a material that has impressive hardness levels, then ACM rubber is undoubtedly one option you can choose to go with. It sports a hardness range of between 40 to 90 on Shore A, and the best part of this is that you can literally make changes to this metric based on the polymer composition too.
Add this to the material’s impressive strength, and you’ll find that it is both durable and long-lasting.
Stretch It As You Like
As an elastomeric material, polyacrylate rubber is quite flexible. You can stretch and deform it by applying stress and rest assured that it’ll go right back to its original shape.
It Soaks In Stress & Doesn’t Tear Easily
Tear and abrasion resistance are two other areas where this material does quite well. It resists cutting and tearing, and it also offers a reasonable level of abrasion resistance that allows it to withstand any friction – especially from external environments.
It’s Light, Too
With a low density, ACM rubber works well when you need a lightweight material for your operation.
It Repels Water
As you would expect from a rubber material, water absorption for this material is super low. Even in moist environments, the material easily holds its stability in performance and will continue to exhibit its general characteristics.
What Color Do You Want?
It’s rare to find a rubber variant that you can color on your own. Most rubbers come with specific colors, but you can actually add your own aesthetic input to this material, allowing it to fit different options and applications.
The Thermal Expansion Coefficient
ACM rubber has a generally low coefficient of thermal expansion. As a result, the material is dimensionally stable and can maintain this across a very broad temperature spectrum.
Explaining How ACM Rubber Is Made
We already mentioned that Poly ACM rubber is a polymer. And like other polymers, the material is developed via a specific process known as copolymerization. Essentially, you get the primary monomers that make up the material, combine them, and refine your product until you’re able to achieve the properties you seek.
With that in mind, let’s take a proper look into the production process for ACM rubber and how the material comes to be.
Start By Preparing The Monomers
As you’d imagine, the first thing you need to do here is to prepare your monomers. We already pointed out that you can have any of the following in the mix:
- Ethyl acrylate
- Methyl methacrylate
- Butyl acrylate
And much more. Simply get the right formulations of monomers based on what you need from the ACM rubber material, and you’re good to go.
Move to Copolymerization
Next, you subject the monomers to the copolymerization process. This step involves combining them under specific conditions, all with the aim of achieving a specific set of characteristics and features.
For copolymerization to work, you usually have some of the following steps:
Here, you add materials such as azo compounds and peroxides to the entire mixture. Their addition leads to the formulation of free radicals, which actually begin the polymerization process.
With this step, you see a reaction between the monomer mixture and the free radicals. It ends up with the ACM rubber polymer chain, which incorporates the characteristics of the different monomers and leads to the polymer’s actual creation.
Once your polymer has been created, you terminate the copolymerization process. You’ll notice that the free radicals become deactivated, meaning that they have become one with the polymer chain. Just like that, the copolymerization step is done.
Process Your Material
With copolymerization now done, you can coagulate the material and form your solid ACM rubber. Then, you also need to wash the material to take out any other impurities and the monomers that didn’t form a part of the reaction.
Dry the material to take out any excess water, and just like that, your polyacrylate rubber is ready and good to go!
You Can Further Compound If You Like
Depending on what you’re trying to achieve, you can also compound and further process the dry ACM rubber. Just as it is with silicone compounding, this step includes adding things like fillers, curing agents, and accelerators to make the ACM rubber material even better overall.
Once done, you can process the material into things like sheets, rolls, and more.
What Can You Use Polyacrylate Rubber For?
When it comes to rubber materials, specialization is the name of the game. And with ACM rubber, you have the same thing. The material is known for its ability to perform under immense external pressure, and its functionality set includes some truly impressive uses – these include the following:
Elements For Sealing
Different industries require seals to help keep unwanted materials out. From automotive materials to oil and gas components and aerospace applications, ACM rubber is very flexible when it comes to overall sealing.
This is primarily due to the material’s ability to resist so many unwanted impurities. Whether it’s a chemical, an oil, a transmission fluid, or other materials, ACM rubber can keep them at bay.
Belt & Hose Production
The material’s resistance to heat and oil – coupled with its flexibility across a broad temperature range – also makes it perfect for making belts and hoses for different applications. As you would imagine, these materials require components that can withstand pressure – and ACM rubber checks that box.
Making O-Rings For Different Uses
A bit linked to its use in making sealing elements, polyacrylate rubber also works well when you need to make o-rings. These materials help implement sealing in different industries, and with its ability to withstand ozone exposure, it also work in external environments.
Vibration Isolation Mounts:
Properties like oil and heat resistance make polyacrylate rubber especially adequate for developing vibration isolation mounts. These mounts in turn help to cut down on vibration in machinery, thus making them especially easy to use.
Covering Materials For Rolls
For applications like paper processing and material printing, we see the use of rolls. These rolls are quite delicate, and polyacrylate rubber can be used to make covers that help to maintain their operation. The material’s ability to resist wear and changes in temperatures makes it perfect here.
The Production Of Diaphragms
Mechanical diaphragms, which are mostly used in valves and pumps, can be made with ACM rubber. The material’s resistance to chemicals and ability to maintain flexibility ensure that diaphragms made with it are both durable and capable of resisting chemicals.
Shaft Seals For Protecting Machinery
A shaft seal is mostly used in equipment that rotates. These materials help to prevent lubricant movement and also protect against general material contamination. And, many of them come with polyacrylate rubber as their material of choice.
Since the rubber resists oils, it works perfectly in this regard.
Gaskets For Industrial Purposes & Appliances
We also see this material working in the development of gaskets that are used in both industries and household appliances. This is especially true for appliances that tend to get a lot of moisture and heat exposure. Since ACM rubber resists weathering and remains stable across different temperatures, the material is quite ideal in this regard.
Is ACM Rubber The Best Rubber Out There?
Already, much has been said about polyacrylate rubber and the properties it delivers. However, it is also worth looking into some of the material’s peers to see if it really stacks up and where it stands. To that end, let’s look at some material comparisons:
ACM Rubber vs Nitrile Rubber
When it comes to synthetic rubbers, there are so many popular options. As you can imagine, both ACM rubber and nitrile rubber are top on that list. Their properties show that there are similarities between them, but there are also some major lines of distinction. Let’s take a look at those.
What Are They Made Of?
To begin with, let’s examine their compositions. As you know, ACM rubber comes from the combination of different monomers – usually ethyl acrylate, butyl acrylate, and methyl methacrylate. On the flip side, two materials make up nitrile rubber – monomers of acrylonitrile and butadiene.
How They Resist Oils
On this front, both materials are quite even. They both resist oils, making them perfect in instances where this is a major concern. That said, ACM tends to resist a broader oil range – one that includes vegetable oils, mineral oils, and more.
The Temperature Resistance Comparison
Temperature resistance is another area where ACM wins. Nitrile rubber does its best with heat resistance and working in hot conditions, but it doesn’t quite come close to ACM.
Performance In Low Temperatures
Both materials do well to maintain their properties in low temperatures. But, when these temperatures become extremely low, ACM rubber kind of has the edge.
Resistance To Weather Elements
In general, ACM does better to resist elements of weather – including and especially ozone. Nitrile rubber works in outdoor environments too, but when the conditions get very extreme, ACM rubber pulls through better.
Holding Off Against Contact
In terms of abrasion resistance, nitrile rubber actually does better than polyacrylate rubber. For this reason, the former is much better when you need something to withstand wear and friction.
Which Is More Expensive?
Considering that it packs more of a punch in terms of features, it should come as no surprise that Poly ACM rubber is generally more expensive than nitrile rubber.
That said, you should also remember that nitrilerubber’s properties are also considerable. And if you need a cost-efficient option that operates in moderate conditions, then it might be a good choice.
Compatibility With Chemicals
Generally, ACM rubber is an inert material. So, when you add bases and acids to its form, it can maintain its stability. The same can be said about nitrile rubber, but to a lesser degree.
Protecting Against Electricity
Insulation properties are pretty solid on both fronts. The two materials are good here, and you can count on them not to be affected when electrical current is being dispersed.
ACM Rubber vs EPDM Rubber
The next synthetic rubber we’ll be looking to compare ACM rubber with is EPDM. Short for Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer rubber, this material is a special form of synthetic rubber with its own set of properties.
So, how do you make a choice between this and Poly ACM rubber?
Their Material Composition
To begin with, we already know the materials that make up ACM rubber. And, for EPDM rubber, the composition is already in the name – the material is made up of ethylene, propylene, and a diene monomer. The diene monomer is usually in small quantities, but it deserves its recognition too.
Resistance To Oils
As we know, Poly ACM does well to resist oils. On the other hand, EPDM rubber struggles a bit with this. When exposed to oils, it degrades pretty easily – of course, you want to keep an eye out on it.
Holding Off Temperatures
Next, we have temperature and heat resistance. Both materials do well in this regard, working well in situations where exposure to heat and elevated temperatures might be a concern for you.
Can You Use Them Outside?
Both materials resist ozone and weathering pretty well. They work well for outdoor environments, although we should note that EPDM rubber actually does slightly better in this regard. Nevertheless, whatever choice you have is pretty solid here.
What About Low Temperatures?
Once again, EPDM rubber actually takes the cake here. The two materials are flexible in the cold, but EPDM rubber does this to a much broader degree. When you need something to work in low temperatures, you know which to use
Can They Take Hits?
Abrasion resistance is another area where the materials are in a deadlock. Anything you choose, rest assured that it’s a pretty solid pick.
How Expensive Are They?
Just like you get with nitrile rubber, ACM rubber comes on a higher cost profile than EPDM rubber. You might want to keep an eye out for this if you have a bit of a limited budget.
Are They Inert?
Both materials exhibit impressive levels of chemical inertness. Even in the presence of acids, bases, and solvents, they tend to maintain their properties through and through.
Electricity Insulation & Repulsion
Just as well, both materials do well to protect their components against electricity.
At the end of the day, understanding these characteristics should go a long way in helping you to determine which of the materials you will work with. Just examine what you need, and you should be good to go.
Poly ACM rubber has made quite the name for itself. The material succeeds in different manufacturing tasks, providing a broad feature set to help manufacturers achieve different properties. As long as you have the right material formulation, you can surely get your bang for your buck with it.
If you’d like even more clarity or would love to get your hands on this material, feel free to reach out to us at Legenday.