Fraunhofer LBF steps on the rubber – New working group for elastomer technology.

From tree to technical application, many elastomers are still based on natural rubber

Elastomers are technologically highly complex and innovative materials. Their elastic, flexibly adjustable properties make them indispensable for a large number of applications in mobility, mechanical engineering, medical technology and many other areas of daily life. Fraunhofer LBF is enjoying increasing demand from industry and can now handle it even better with enhanced material expertise.

Elastomers and their applications

Since Charles Goodyear’s discovery of the vulcanization of natural rubber by adding sulfur in 1839, a new group of materials has become established which in effect have enabled numerous developments, such as the automobile. But besides the best-known application in rubber tires, elastomers carry out their function mainly in secret. Bearings, dampers and anti-vibration systems, among other things, make travelling more comfortable and safer. Seals and hoses enable the loss-free transport of media in a large number of mechanical engineering applications. Even modern medicine cannot exist without rubber products like surgical gloves, tubes and plugs. Rubber, however, is not made of caoutchouc alone. Rubber is more. Modern elastomers are a synergy of the elastic properties of the caoutchouc, the strengthening effect of fillers like technical carbon black and chemical cross-linking between the rubber molecules.

Elastomer technology at Fraunhofer LBF

With the launch of the new Elastomer Technology working group in the plastics division, Fraunhofer LBF is accelerating its involvement in the field of this special group of materials. Among other things, the group will be built on the work of other departments like the development of active elastomer bearings in smart structures, on characterization to investigate the ageing of elastomers from plastics division and on work for testing the fatigue strength in the structural durability division. It was only logical to establish an independent group given the cross-sectoral interest in the elastomeric materials described..

Advantages for the customer

The new working group pools the R&D work on elastomer processing and development. In future, it will be possible to develop and produce customized materials in the newly equipped laboratory for elastomer technology. Practical mixing and molding equipment is available for this purpose. This enables the upscaling to industrial production processes, specifically to offer added value to customers from the rubber industry. Therefor the portfolio of Fraunhofer LBF covers the whole value added chain from formulation of rubbers to fatigue strength testing of components and entire systems..