There is no doubt about the fact that rubber has become one of the most prominent and reliable materials for manufacturing. Its flexibility and ability to withstand several environmental factors means that it works in different capacities, and manufacturers have been enjoying this for decades.
But, like many other materials, there’s a general decision to be made when it comes to choosing rubber. That is, which option do you really choose? Two variants that get especially mentioned these days are EPDM and Viton. So, we thought to shed a little light on the EPDM vs Viton debate to see which of these materials is truly better.
Viton vs EPDM: Your Introduction To Both Materials
Before we even begin in the Viton vs EPDM debate, it is important to understand both materials and how they operate.
What Is Viton? Its Composition & Properties
Viton is one of the many synthetic rubber variants we have in the market today. Known for its strong physical and chemical properties, the material is incredibly durable and has been known to feature in different manufacturing operations in the past.
There have been different arguments about how Viton rubber came to be, although the general belief is that a few chemists working at DuPont back in the ‘50s were the ones who developed the initial iteration for it. These men developed something that could resist different chemicals and still hold its own in the face of high temperatures, and they even went on further by expanding it into different grades.
With each grade, you had a type of Viton rubber that could essentially cater to a specific set of applications. And for decades, this material was used to make different things – Viton seals, material gaskets, and much more.
By 2015, DuPont finally conducted some restructuring, and that included the movement of the Viton brand into a separate entity – The Chemours Company. And today, the company continues to conduct extensive research into the material and its variants.
The Chemicals That Make Up Viton
As a fluorocarbon material, Viton provides a broad range of functionalities and properties – many of which we will look into in a later section. The Viton rubber material has a chemical composition that includes multiple units of materials such as vinylidene fluoride (VF2) and hexafluoropropylene (HFP). These materials go through a process known as polymerization, and they form a more complex material structure with switching units.
With the resulting polymer, you add a few fluorine atoms, and you’re able to significantly improve its overall characteristics and composition.
An Overview Of The Production Sequence
As you would imagine, there really is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to making Viton. As the material has continued to expand, so have the manufacturing operations that have gone into making it. That said, this process can provide a bit of a look into the general processing workflow.
Start By Making The Monomers
As explained earlier, there won’t be any Viton rubber if you don’t have HFP and VF2. So, it is important to take these monomers and synthesize them.
Move On To Polymerization
Moving on, you have to first polymerize these monomers in order to form a copolymer chain. Essentially, you combine both monomers under strict and controlled conditions, eventually leading to the formation of the chain.
Cure Your Resulting Chain
Once polymerization has been done, you move on to cure the polymer that you’ve left with. Alternatively, you could also incorporate cross-linking, which will solidify the material’s properties even more and improve its ability to withstand several significant external factors.
Make Your Viton Material
Now, you’re free to process Viton as you wish. You can form it into rolls, sheets, or other specific shapes, and you can even make things like Viton seals and more from there. Today, Viton is one of the most prominent rubber forms and is used in multiple capacities.
What Does EPDM Stand For?
When you see “EPDM,” we’re referring to the popular “Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer.” As its name suggests from the EPDM meaning, this is a monomer. But, it is also a synthetic rubber that has become especially popular for its own set of impressive physical properties.
Today, EPDM is used in different industries. You can get an EPDM o ring, create EPDM seals, and much more. the material’s relative abundance also means that it’s not so difficult to get around.
While it might be a monomer, it is worth noting that this material also functions as a copolymer. It brings together different elements, including and especially propylene, ethylene, and a monomer of diene. The initial two materials form a polymer chain, then the diene monomer helps to add a touch of unsaturation to the entire chain.
In general, the chemical structure of the EPDM material looks a bit like this:
And as you can imagine, the letters here represent the molar ratios of the three elements that make up the EPDM material altogether.
A Look At The Manufacturing Process
Generally, there are a lot of parallels to be drawn in the EPDM vs Viton debate in terms of their manufacturing processes. However, for EPDM, most manufacturers tend to follow this workflow:
Creating The Monomers
We already pointed out the two primary monomers that need to be present for EPDM to be created. They are usually gotten from petrochemicals, and they need to be properly synthesized for EPDM to be made.
Next, The Copolymerization Process
With the monomers now being collected, they are joined with the diene monomer, then copolymerized with additional catalysts also being part of the mix. Remember that you need diene to add some unsaturation within the chain.
Vulcanize Your Mixture
Following a successful combination, you can go ahead to vulcanize your EPDM. This step is where the unsaturation added by the diene polymer comes in handy, and it helps to optimize the general mechanical properties of the resulting material.
For EPDM vulcanization, you will need to get curing agents with sulfur or peroxide bases and create links between the polymer chains. With this, the rubber’s properties are improved, and it becomes more ideal for whatever functionality you’d like to use .
The Final Processing Step
Now that you have a viable material, you can go ahead to process it into different forms. And with a final extrusion step, you can form it into the shape you’d like.
Viton vs EPDM: Comparing Their Chemical Properties
Now that we’re acquainted with the two materials we’re working with, let’s begin to look into the EPDM vs Viton debate to see where they stand on different fronts.
The first point for us will be chemical properties. Here, we’ll look at which among the Viton vs EPDM options exhibits better properties across the board.
What They Are Made Of
Because we already pointed out what these materials consist of, we won’t spend much time here. Viton has a content that is primarily made of vinylidene fluoride (VF2) and hexafluoropropylene (HFP), while EPDM’s content is split into three – ethylene, propylene, and diene monomers.
Holding Off Temperature
When it comes to rubbers, one of the most significant properties is temperature resistance. Whether it’s an EPDM O-ring or Viton seals, manufacturers want to know which material is better able to hold its own against high temperatures.
On this front, Viton wins. The material maintains its properties across a broader temperature range, going from about -15°C to 204°C (5°F to 400°F). On the flip side, an EPDM elastomer will probably only hit about 150°C (302°F) in temperature resistance.
Stability In The Face Of Chemicals
Next, we have another major stipulation for manufacturers – chemical resistance. Much of the uses for an EPDM elastomer or a Viton rubber material will be in areas where chemical exposure is a real threat.
Once again, the Viton rubber wins out here. Its resistance to chemicals is outstanding, and it also has a broader range compared to the EPDM rubber chemical resistance. For use in overly aggressive environments, Viton rubber is the top option.
Of course, this isn’t to say that the EPDM chemical resistance isn’t considerable. But, when you compare it to Viton, it just doesn’t measure up.
Opposition To Weather Elements
The next point will be weather resistance. Outdoor applications are notable when these materials are considered, and you need to make sure that they are reliable.
Here, both options are pretty much locked in a stalemate. They both resist UV radiation and weathering, although some experts might rank EPDM higher. At the end of the day, though, it doesn’t matter what you choose – both options work excellently.
Do They Hold In Low Temperatures?
If you’re worried about harsh or outdoor environments, then you would also need a material that exhibits impressive levels of low-temperature flexibility. And on this front, EPDM rubber does well.
The EPDM rubber chemical resistance might not be as high as that of Viton, but when it comes to low-temperature resistance, this material is tops.
Viton vs EPDM: How Do Their Physical Properties Compare?
So away from their chemical properties, let’s also look into the physical properties in our Viton vs EPDM debate. Considering that both materials will have to take on some harsh functions, knowing which is stronger or more flexible can help you make the right decision.
Which Is Harder?
In terms of hardness, Viton mostly comes out ahead. And because there are different grades of the material, you can easily find one with the right durometer to meet your needs. This is much better compared to the soft, flexible EPDM, which just doesn’t quite measure up.
The Flexibility Comparison
If you thought that EPDM’s flexibility was such a bad thing, well think again. Thanks to the material’s flexibility, it easily works in applications where you need flexing or bending. Obviously, the much harder Viton isn’t able to quite achieve this – especially at lower temperatures.
Which Material Has More Tensile Strength?
It should come as no surprise that Viton comes ahead in this part of the EPDM versus Viton debate.
With EP rubber, you can get pretty good tensile strength. But, it doesn’t compare to Viton, which holds its own when you subject it to considerable mechanical stress.
The Compression Set
In terms of compression set, Viton generally comes on top. The material’s lower compression set means that it will be able to still maintain its properties and form after going through multiple compression and decompression rounds – at least much better than an EPDM elastomer for sure.
Taking On Abrasive Forces
For abrasion resistance, EPDM might be better here. Viton’s abrasion resistance is generally great, but you need to remember that this can depend on the formulation or grade you’re working with. For an EPDM rubber seal, you’re pretty much set every time.
Which Material Is Denser?
Usually, you’ll find Viton coming at a higher density rating than EPDM. It is heavier, and as you can imagine, this can be both a benefit and a drawback depending on what you want.
This density rating is generally one of the most considerable factors when you’re comparing an EPDM rubber seal with SIlicone or some other synthetic material.
Do They Soak In Water?
In terms of water absorption, Viton is another clear winner. The material doesn’t absorb so much water, and while EPDM has better weather resistance, Viton might be a better option if you’re only worried about water intake.
Viton vs EPDM: Where Do They Shine Best?
So we see where both materials stand and how they operate. Now, for the next part of the comparison between Viton and EP rubber, let’s see the applications where they do especially well:
The Major Applications Of Viton
Chemical Processing Applications
The primary use of Viton is in chemical processing. Manufacturers use the material to make O-rings, seals, and more, capitalizing on its ability to stand firm in the face of chemical exposure.
Transport System Development & Operations
For automotive and aerospace industries, Viton also lends its resistance to chemicals and high temperatures. You can see it used in designing hydraulic systems, fuel lines, components for engines, and more.
For the oil and gas industry, Viton helps in developing the same gaskets and seals that need to be exposed to harsh conditions in order to operate optimally.
Once again, Viton seals and gaskets can work in this industry since they repel heat and can also hold their own against chemicals.
General Environments With High Temperatures
Pretty much any industrial or manufacturing environment where high temperatures are a concern can use Viton. And these days, which of these environments doesn’t have temperature concerns?
Where EPDM Operates Best
Car Manufacturing & Operations
Easily the most prominent among EPDM rubber uses is in the vehicle manufacturing industry. We can create EPDM orings and other materials and add them to doors, windows, and even radiators to improve their functionality and resistance to external weather components.
Construction Industry Functionalities
Again, EPDM seals, gaskets, and others work in the construction industry thanks to their ability to resist the sun’s rays and other elements of weathering. And with the material’s flexibility in low temperatures, it is as versatile as you could need.
Contributing To HVAC Stability
We also see EPDM rubber being used to improve the functionality of HVAC systems. EPDM o-rings, for instance, can help to bolster their operation by resisting temperature changes and other weathering factors.
Its Use In Outdoor Tasks
An EPDM O-ring and seal can easily be fitted with a window or door. At least you know that exposure to weather elements won’t affect it in any way, shape, or form.
Applications With Low Temperatures
Thanks to its ability to maintain its properties at low temperatures, Viton comes in handy when you need something to work in low climates generally.
EPDM vs. Niton: Which Option Costs More?
In the manufacturing industry, one of the most significant factors to be considered is cost. Finding that perfect balance between cost and quality is always important, and manufacturers do a lot of work to ensure that they can always focus on their bottom line as much as possible.
So, as part of the EPDM versus Viton debate, you also need to discover which option is more pocket-friendly. Regarding cost, there are some critical points you might want to keep in mind.
Overall, Viton is seen to be more expensive than EPDM. As a premium fluoroelastomer, the material also attracts a bit of a premium price overall. As you would imagine, the material’s comparatively higher cost generally stems from the fact that its properties are more desirable. And when you pay for it,you can at least rest assured of optimal quality.
That said, we also pointed out the fact that EP rubber tends to be more ideal for specific functionalities. When you consider this, and the fact that the material is also more cost-effective, you’d find that it has a lot of advantages overall.
EPDM vs. Viton: Which Material is Right for Your Parts?
When choosing what to use based on cost, you need to keep a few things in mind:
What Do You Need Them For?
As you would imagine, the first thing you need to do is consider your specific needs and what you want to use any of the materials for. Both materials have very interchangeable functionalities, but they generally have where they shine and where they could use a little bit of work.
How Long Will It Last?
Longevity is a major consideration for any material. The last thing you want is to have to come back every now and then to replace it, so consider its longevity and overall lifespan.
At the end of the day, both options last pretty long. But, their overall lifespan can be affected based on the conditions you subject them to. So, it is important to keep a close eye on this and consider how it can affect the ability of your chosen material to last as much as possible.
Can You Afford It?
At the end of the day, affordability is another major factor that can’t possibly be downplayed. You need to make sure that you can afford the material, and that it won’t burn too big of a hole in your pocket.
That said, always remember that affordability isn’t the major factor. Quality should be top on your list, and balancing both factors should be a major priority.
The Quality Of The Material
Without a doubt, you need to also consider the quality of what you’re getting. Generally, this is why we recommend that you only work with reputable manufacturers who know their onions and are able to get you the best in quality products.
What Are Their Characteristics?
We already provided a detailed comparison of the different features and characteristics of both materials. As a result, it is important for you to determine what you really need for your use and let that factor into your overall decision-making.
The Market Conditions Play Here
Material availability and conditions tend to vary based on the dynamics of the market at the time. Besides the fact that you want to work with different manufacturers to find your sweet spot, you also need to understand where the market it and let it factor into your choice.
Can They Be Customized?
If you need to get a particular grade or material formulation for what you need, then you need to know if customization options are available and how you can access them.
Today, Viton and EPDM have pretty much become two competing rubber variants for different uses. As we’ve pointed out, both are incredibly functional and can come with their benefits. At the end of the day, understanding your requirements will go a long way in helping you to decide between both options.
If you’d like more information or would want to get your hands on high-quality materials, feel free to reach out to us at Legenday.