Environment Impacts Rubber Product Shelf Life
Rubber is durable, adaptable, eco-friendly and is widely used in multiple products throughout industries. From the everyday rubber band that holds letters together, to a specialty gasket used to build bridges, rubber is an essential part of modern life. While it’s true rubber products last for many years, it is also very important for users to remember that proper rubber storage will maximize the life of rubber products.
Please note, shelf life is different from service life. Shelf life is the period of time between the cure time and the first date of product use. Service life begins when the product is put into use for its intended purpose. For the purpose of this article we will only address the shelf life.
Proper rubber storage is key. Material properties and external factors can affect rubber. Consider the following elements when choosing a rubber storage facility.
- Temperature – Storage temperatures between 72° F (22°C) and 32° F (0°C) are ideal. If stored below 32°F some products stiffen and must warming before they are usable. Likewise, don’t store rubber products near sources of heat, such as radiators and base heaters.
- Humidity – Don’t store rubber products under conditions of high or low humidity. Certain compounds of rubber are susceptible to mold degradation.
- Ozone – To protect against the adverse effects of ozone, store rubber products away from electrical equipment that may generate ozone and should not be stored for any lengthy period in geographical areas of known high ozone concentrations.
- Sunlight – Avoid exposure to direct and reflected sunlight. Ultraviolet light can degrade rubber.
- Liquids – The material properties and hence, expected shelf-life of different elastomers of rubber will be adversely affected if exposed to or come into contact with certain oils, solvents and/or corrosive. liquids.
- Fumes – As is the case with oils, solvents and corrosive liquids, certain corrosive fumes will also adversely affect the material properties and expected shelf-life of rubber.
- Pests – It’s true, vermin such as insects, rodents and many others can degrade the material properties of rubber. How? They chew it, eat it, nest in it and worst of all urinate on it. The acid in animal urine can have an extremely adverse effect on rubber.
Recommended Life:The recommended storage life generally associated with products fabricated from various polymers based on information provided in MIL-HDBK-695F titled “Military Standardization Handbook Rubber Products: Recommended Shelf Life.” Use this information for guidance purposes only. It represents average shelf life under normal storage conditions. A typical timeframe for rubber storage is anywhere from 3-20 years depending on the elastomer and its formula. It varies depending on product specifications and compound design.