The History of Rubber Tubing
Rubber tubing has been in use in some form or another since the 1800s. For example, in the mid-1800s, a number of different inventors created models for rubber tympanostomy tubes, which are tubes inserted into the eardrum to relieve fluid accumulation in the middle ear. These included the rubber tube by Lincke and the hard rubber drain by Ádám Politzer.
When people first began using it, rubber tubing was made from pure gum rubber (natural rubber). For several decades, latex tubing was the most popular rubber tubing. However, in the 1980s, allergists discovered that a small portion of the population had developed latex allergies. Once they knew this, they began decreasing their latex usage. In particular, they replaced latex gloves with non-latex gloves. Long before this happened, though, manufacturers began producing those synthetic rubbers that made possible the switch from natural rubber to its alternatives. Scientists working for Bayer developed the very first viable synthetic rubber material in 1909. They had been seeking to create a synthetic rubber material so that they could make newly popular car tires more rapidly and more cheaply. After synthesizing the first rubber material, scientists quickly made many more, and began applying them other applications, including rubber tubing. Rubber tubing types like butyl rubber tubing became important during both World Wars I and II.
In 1957, the DuPont Company (formerly E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company) perfected another significant rubber tubing material, Viton. Viton, a fluoroelastomer, gave engineers in the aerospace industry the ability to create tubing with sufficient corrosion resistance, chemical inertness and temperature ranges for their purposes.
Today, rubber tubing continues to diversify and become available in an ever-wider range of shapes, sizes and materials. Rubber tubing provides exciting possibilities for professionals and end-users worldwide.
Rubber Tubing Design
Option 1: Latex Extraction and Treatment
The process of harvesting natural rubber involves extracting it from plants like the Pará tree. Extraction is achieved by tapping the latex-producing plant much as one would tap a maple tree for syrup and collecting the free-flowing latex with anything from a bucket on.
After it is extracted, the latex is mixed with other substances so that it might gain qualities to make it more useful.
Sometimes, for example, technicians add heat and Sulphur to it during a process called vulcanization. Vulcanized latex is stronger than non-vulcanized latex. Other substances may render latex rubber tubes: sterile, conductive, spark-resistant, explosion-proof, reinforced or extra flexible, elastic or resilient.
Option 2: Rubber Synthesization
During this process, manufacturers mix different substances in order to fabricate their own rubber material.
To actually fabricate the rubber tubing, manufacturers use the rubber extrusion process. During extrusion, an extruder forces uncured rubber to go through a die and adapts its cross-section.
After extruding the tubing, manufacturers may put it through a wide range of finishing and/or secondary processes. These include: cutting, curing, coating, drilling, labeling, etc.
Examples of rubber tubing materials include: natural latex/gum rubber, neoprene, silicone, vinyl rubber, EPDM, viton and more.
Considerations and Customization
Manufacturers make decisions about rubber tubing design based on application specifications like: intended environment (moisture, temperatures, pressure level, etc.) and the fluid to be conveyed. Using these details, they create tubing ranging in diameter and thickness from a few thousandths of an inch to several inches, with all sorts of properties, colors, shapes and attachments. Tubing may connect to instruments, tools or additional tubing with the assistance of hose barbs, fittings, gaskets, grommets and other attachments.
Types of Rubber Tubing
The latex used in latex tubing is derived from the Pará rubber tree and a wide variety of other plants. It is therefore considered a natural rubber, which is valued for its flexibility and chemical inertness. Latex is often used for conductive rubber tubing, surgical tubing, rubber hoses and black rubber tubing. Latex tubing, unfortunately, cannot be used for all applications because of its status as a somewhat common allergen. This is where synthetic rubber tubing like neoprene steps in.
Neoprene tubing is hypoallergenic, buoyant, elastic, lightweight and chemical and abrasion resistant. Neoprene tubing is used widely to transport liquids and gases, and it can also protect wires and cables.
PVC Rubber Tubing
PVC, or vinyl, rubber tubing offers a variety of favorable qualities, including: solvent resistance, acid resistance, alkali resistance and insulativity. Vinyl rubber tubing can be purchased as rigid or flexible tube, and it is available in clear pvc or in virtually any color. This versatile pvc tubing can be used many different applications, such as: food and beverage processing, brewing, drainage, pool cleaning, wastewater management, protective insulation and pharmaceutical processing.
Silicone tubing (silicone rubber tubing) is elastic, pliable, flexible, smooth and very resistant to heat, weather and water.
EPDM is another example of strong synthetic rubber tubing. Derived from ethylene propylene diene monomers, EPDM elastomer is most often used with industrial rubber and automotive applications.
Finally, viton tubing is quite new. Created in 1957 for use in the aerospace industry, it is the world’s first synthesized fluoroelastomer, which is a special, high performance rubber that resists substances and conditions that other rubber tubing cannot.
Microbore tubing is a type of medical tubing used for intravenous lines. It is strong enough to support itself while allowing the free flow of sensitive liquids. Also, it is sterile, ultra-smooth and inert.
Metal Rubber Tubing
Another new development is metal rubber tubing, which can be frozen, stretched and exposed to chemicals, and still return to its original state undamaged. This flexible and lightweight rubber tubing is made from polymers with metal ions.
Conductive Rubber Tubing
Rubber tubing that has been imparted with certain qualities may be named as such. This is the case with conductive rubber tubing, which is designed to prevent the harmful accumulation of static electricity and to shield electronic equipment from electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio frequency interference (RFI). Among the most frequently conductive rubber tubing varieties are: conductive silicone rubber tubing and conductive latex rubber tubing.
Sterilized Rubber Tubing
Sterilized rubber tubing is tubing that is disinfected using chemical treating, gamma irradiation or dry heat.
Thermoplastic Rubber Tubing
Thermoplastic rubber tubing, made from any thermoplastic rubber, is generally elastic (flexible and stretchy, but able to return its original shape), stiff, durable and abrasion resistant. It can also usually be recycled.
Flexible Rubber Tubing
Flexible rubber tubing can be stretched and bent without the risk of breakage, kinks or weakening. Among other applications, flexible rubber tubing is ideal for beverage applications that may operate in very small or unconventional spaces, like bags in boxes.
Surgical tubing is, of course, made to accommodate the requirements of a medical setting and the human body. To help with free flow, surgical tubing is usually thin-walled.
Black Rubber Tubing
Black rubber tubing absorbs heat better than clear tubing, and thus lends itself to insulation and heat retention applications. One type of black rubber tubing, black nitrile rubber tubing, is especially resistant to vegetable oils, mineral oils and acids.
Hose Rubber Tubing
Hose rubber tubing is rubber tubing reinforced by stiff rubber or thin metal wires. These reinforcements help the hose assembly keep its shape even when it’s not in use. Rubber hoses are common as garden hoses, while industrial hose can be used for applications like material handling.
Foam tubing is solid, which means it is not used to convey fluids. Instead, it serves cushion, insulation or a grip to products like handles.
Advantages of Rubber Tubing
Rubber tubing provides its end users countless advantages, regardless of the type of rubber with which it is made. First, it’s affordable. Standard rubber tubing is less expensive than plastic tubing and much less expensive than metal tubing. Because metal pipes are sold by weight, the longer the tube, the more you have to pay. This is not so with rubber pipe, which on average, cost less than $10 to start. Even with customization, you will still likely pay less for rubber tubing than you will for metal tubing. Speaking of customization, rubber tubes are super versatile. Rubber tube manufacturers can cater to virtually any aesthetic or tube characteristic goal. Next, because you can roll it or fold it regardless of its weight, rubber tubing is easy to tote around and store. Another advantage of rubber tubing is the fact that it is simple to maintain. To learn more, check out the information we provide under Proper Care for Rubber Tubing. Finally, rubber tubing is (literally) flexible. No matter the journey your tubing must take around your facility, it will be able to provide unhindered fluid flow.
Proper Care for Rubber Tubing
For the best results, you need to take care of your rubber tubing. For some advice on how to do that, keep reading.
The first thing you need to know is how to handle your tubing. Because rubber tubing is so soft and flexible, if you’re not careful it may tear or sustain abrasion or other damage. Even if your tubing has protective layers, it’s still a good practice to not rough handle it. Instead, treat it with care. Never let it drag on the ground while you’re carrying it. Store it up off the ground and away from moisture and dust. Never tie it in knots, crush it or place your weight on it.
Make sure you only ever use your tubing for its designed application. For example, do not use it to convey an alternative flow. If you do, any number of things could happen. For example, your tube could corrode or the rubber could leech into and contaminate the fluid. Your tube could even explode. If you have an additional application, go back to your manufacturer for new tubing.
Cleaning and Inspection
The final step in maintaining your rubber tubing is cleaning and inspection. Check with your supplier how often you need to clean it, then set up a routine based on that time frame. Usually, the best way to clean the tubing is with a cloth and soapy water, then letting the tubing air dry. Remember to also clean the attachments. Perform the other component of this routine, inspection, before cleaning the tube. Check the tubing for damage and spot leaks. If the leak is wide, you can either replace the tubing or cut of the portion of the tubing with the leak and then reconnect the two tube parts with a connector.
Rubber Tubing Uses in the Concrete Sector
Rubber products are widely used in the construction industry. They are essential in material transportation and carrying out operations in construction projects. Hose, belts, mountings, rollers, sheets, floorings, tires, adhesives, and sealants are some of the rubber components used in construction sites. But this article will only focus on the discussion of rubber tubings used in the concrete sector.
Concrete is a mixture of cement, water, aggregates, and additives. It is produced either on-site or at ready-mixed batch plants, depending on the location of the construction site and the volume of concrete needed on a regular basis. On-site production of concrete is beneficial when the location of the construction site is far from ready-mixed batch plants and for large construction projects where a steady supply of a huge volume of concrete is required. On the other hand, ready-mixed batch plants are advantageous for supplying multiple and smaller construction sites nearby. Both on-site and ready-mixed batch plants use rubber tubings in handling wet and dry materials essential in the construction of foundations, floorings, and exterior surfaces of commercial and residential structures. The specific applications of rubber tubings in the concrete sector are as follows:
Rubber tubings transfer dry materials such as cement, sand, and concrete powder using compressed air or gravity. They are commonly used to load/unload dry bulk powders to/from silos, storage bins, and trucks. Rubbers are generally known for their resilience and toughness in harsh environments, making them suitable for use in the concrete sector. Rubber tubings are made of abrasion-resistant materials to withstand the high-abrasion effects of dry powders, dry cement, sand, etc. According to ISO 4649, the typical abrasion resistance of the inner rubber layer or the rubber volume loss expressed in cubic millimeters ranges from 36 mm3 to 80 mm3. A smaller value of abrasion resistance means higher abrasion resistance of the material.
Dust Collection Ducts
Transferring dry raw materials from storage bins to the central mixers and concrete mixing operations generates dust. Raw material moisture levels, raw materials silt contents, raw material size distribution, concrete raw material mix, production rates, wind speed, and wind direction affect dust emission rates in a concrete batch plant. Having a system to collect these particulate matter emissions is needed to reduce environmental pollution and limit workers’ hazards. Exposure to powders, particularly cement particles, can cause skin and eye irritation and respiratory illnesses. Rubber tubings are used in dust collection systems in a concrete batch plant.
Rubber tubings are attached to concrete pumps to pump liquid concrete to respective destinations. Rubber materials used in this application are synthetic and natural elastomers that can withstand high or very high-pressure requirements. They are also abrasion-resistant and are designed to have a high kink resistance rating. One factor affecting the quality of concrete is the duration of discharge. Clogging due to hose kinking will prolong the time of discharge, which may lead to premature hardening of concrete during transfer.
Concrete is hazardous in all its forms. Reckless handling of its powder, liquid, and solid states resulting in spillage and pipes bursting can cause serious health and environmental damage. Thus the careful selection of materials to be used for its handling is required.
Rubber Tubing Standards
Standards for rubber tubing are crucial for several reasons. First, they ensure the safety and reliability of the product in various applications. Rubber tubing is used in a wide range of industries, including medical, automotive, industrial, and aerospace, where failure could lead to serious consequences, injuries, or damage. By adhering to established standards, manufacturers can produce rubber tubing that meets specific performance requirements, reducing the risk of accidents or failures.
In the United States, standards for rubber tubing are typically set by organizations such as ASTM International (American Society for Testing and Materials) and ANSI (American National Standards Institute). These organizations bring together experts from industry, academia, and government to develop consensus-based standards that address critical aspects of rubber tubing, including material properties, dimensions, testing methods, and safety requirements.
Standards can cover different types of rubber tubing, such as explosion-proof rubber tubing used in hazardous environments. These standards set forth specific criteria to ensure the tubing can withstand extreme conditions, such as high pressures, temperatures, or chemical exposures without posing a risk of explosion or combustion.
For both users and manufacturers, the consequences of non-compliance with standards can be severe. For users, using non-compliant rubber tubing may lead to accidents, product failures, or legal liabilities. Manufacturers, on the other hand, may face legal consequences, damage to their reputation, and financial losses through product recalls or lawsuits if their products fail to meet the required standards.
Adhering to established standards benefits both consumers and manufacturers. Consumers can have confidence in the safety and performance of the rubber tubing they purchase, knowing that it has undergone rigorous testing and meets industry-recognized criteria. For manufacturers, adhering to standards can streamline production processes, enhance product quality, and expand market opportunities. Compliance with standards can also serve as a competitive advantage, as it demonstrates a commitment to producing high-quality, reliable products that meet industry best practices.
In summary, standards for rubber tubing are essential for ensuring safety, reliability, and performance across various applications. In the United States, organizations like ASTM and ANSI play a vital role in developing and maintaining these standards. Compliance with standards is crucial for both users and manufacturers to avoid potential risks and legal consequences. Adhering to standards benefits consumers by providing them with reliable products, while manufacturers can improve their processes, quality, and reputation, leading to a competitive edge in the market.
Choosing the Right Rubber Tubing Manufacturer
To ensure you have the most beneficial outcome when purchasing rubber tubing from a rubber tubing manufacturer, it is important to compare several companies using our directory of rubber tubing manufacturers. There, each rubber tubing manufacturer has a business profile page highlighting their areas of experience and capabilities, along with a contact form to directly communicate with the company for more information or to request a quote. Review each rubber tubing business website using our patented website previewer to quickly learn what each company specializes in. Then, use our simple RFQ form to contact multiple rubber tubing manufacturers with the same form.
Rubber Tubing Informational Video