Synthetic rubber differs from natural rubber in that it is engineered using petroleum-based products. Natural rubber is produced from latex, which occurs naturally in some plants, particularly the Para Rubber Tree.
The rubber produced from natural latex is widely used throughout industry, but some of its properties make it unsuitable for use in many applications.
EPDM rubber molding features all of the useful properties of natural rubber and avoid the troublesome properties. EPDM rubber molding is characterized by its high ethylene content, which makes it very easy to form. Because of this feature, EPDM molding is frequently used to make weatherstripping, rubber seals, garden hoses, washers, roofing membranes and electrical insulation.
Nearly all recently manufactured vehicles make use of EPDM rubber molding for door and window stripping as well as trunk and hood seals. EPDM rubber molding is widely used in industrial, commercial and consumer products contexts because of its resilience and versatility. I
ts resistance to heat, extreme temperatures and weather conditions, oxidation, corrosion and other damaging forces makes it ideal for such a range of applications. However, EPDM rubber molding is not intended for use in situations in which it would come into frequent contact with petroleum products; in some cases this kind of contact can cause EPDM to degrade or disintegrate.
EPDM is a thermoset rubber, which means that it is formed by the application of heat, and, once formed, it cannot be easily reformed. It is possible to recycle EPDM, and recent studies of the efficacy of EPDM recycling methods have shown some promise.
EPDM rubber is one of the most widely used materials for flat roof covering. Properly installed and maintained EPDM membranes are often advertised with a guaranteed service life of between 10 and 12 years, though they often continue to function without significant degradation for closer to 20 years.
After the end of their service lives, though, they must be replaced. Because EPDM rubber has been installed on so many roofs, many industrial recycling efforts are investing in the discovery of more effective and efficient means of EPDM recycling. Be
cause EPDM rubber is derived from petrochemicals, the extraction and development of which are closely tied to global politics and economics, developments in the recycling of EPDM and similar synthetic rubber products is increasingly becoming a priority for industry.