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Choosing Elastomers for Sheeting and Film Applications

By Hygenic 8 years ago 17214 Views No comments


Sometimes the thinnest materials have the most important functions. Take elastomer sheeting and films, for example. Thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), natural rubber (NR), or synthetic rubber (SR) polyisoprene materials can be manufactured to create films and sheets as thin as 0.15 mm, or as thick as 1.02 mm—even this latter value is only about as thick as a dime coin. Despite these slight dimensions, it is enough material to meet the needs of many applications and industries.

Synthetic polyisoprene shouldn’t be confused with NR polyisoprene. Though they have some applications in common, they have contrasting material properties. Notably, NR has superior abrasion and tear resistance properties, while synthetic polyisoprene has superior chemical and UV resistance. NR is also environmentally friendly; materials are harvested from trees and are biodegradable. Although there is the potential for allergic reactions to NR, only 1% of the U.S. population is affected, so reactions are rare.

Anyone that has had blood drawn is familiar with the SR tourniquet that gets tied around the arm. Phlebotomists do this to identify suitable venipuncture sites and increase blood flow. Without a tourniquet, patients might suffer multiple needle stabs and longer draw sessions. While it might seem unremarkable, this slice of polyisoprene sheeting has been supremely engineered for this exact purpose.

Learn more about: Hygenic® HYSYNAL® Synthetic Rubber Tourniquets

The surface texture of the sheeting provides good tactility to hold a knot, but the knot must also release quickly to prevent tissue damage. The stiffness of the polyisoprene prevents the tourniquet from shifting on the patient’s arm. Sterility is imperative in medical applications, so not only must the product adhere to strict standards (including ISO 10993), but it must also be disposable without worry about wasted resources. Synthetic polyisoprene also lacks the proteins that incite latex allergies, meaning it is safe for all patients.

When a sheeting or film application calls for a non-NR material that behaves similarly, TPE is the optimal substrate. TPE can be formulated to closely mimic the properties of NR, such as high elongation and good compression set properties. It is also the best material when tear resistance or weatherability is a concern. Because it doesn’t cause NR latex protein allergic reactions, TPE sheeting and films are increasingly being used in bandages and medical equipment. A good example of TPE coexisting with NR is TheraBand® physical therapy and exercise bands. These bands need to stretch and recover multiple times without tearing or ripping apart.

Learn more about: Hygenic® HYPERFORM® Elastomeric Sheeting and Film

When choosing the proper elastomer for your application, there are many material property factors to consider. Here are some other key specifications for our thin-yet-resilient sheeting and film:

Some applications call for a custom formulation that alters material properties for a specific application. Others might just need a custom color or printing. Literally and figuratively, our elastomers are flexible enough for any application. For this reason, we try to work with all of our customers early in their design process to help them choose the proper material for their application.

If you want to learn more about the various Hygenic materials or to find one that works for your application, feel free to contact us.