Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

Diagnostic test for weak interfaces in rubber products

Planes of weakness may occur in rubber products where material interfaces come together during processing. A test has been developed to diagnose if such weaknesses are present in a moulded rubber product. The test is a gas decompression (GD) test.

Gas is dissolved into the rubber under elevated pressure and temperature conditions for a period of time. When the pressure is released, the gas forms bubbles that may grow and cause fracture at a weak interface. A number of variables are available to adjust the severity of the test (type of gas, pressure, temperature, time, decompression rate).

By adjusting the severity of the test conditions, a test can be performed that only causes damage when a weak interface is present. The test was developed using test pieces with controlled and measurable interface strengths. The test has been successfully applied to a rubber pad from a tracked vehicle to show the effect of different processing methods. The methodology can be extended to consider weak bonds in rubber-to-metal bonded components and other interfaces such as with reinforcements in tyres. The methodology may therefore be applied to a range of industrial rubber products where structural integrity is important: tyres, mounts, bushes, seals etc.

It is also applicable to components that are required to operate under high pressure/high temperature conditions e.g. seals and hoses used in the oil and gas industry. The methodology is particularly relevant to rubber materials that possess low ‘tack’, where the risk of weak interface formation is greater i.e. materials used for high temperature applications.

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