Rubber Field Info

Rubber Field Info

Shelf Life of Rubber Products

Shelf Life vs Service Life

There can be some confusion regarding the distinction between the service life and shelf life of a rubber part.

Service Life refers to the actual maximum recorded lifespan of a rubber product. It is a crucial parameter in many customer applications, especially for installations that require a high level of product reliability. Repairing or replacing a critical rubber part can often be more costly than the initial purchase of the part itself. Therefore, it is essential to determine the expected service life of a specific rubber application before selecting the polymer compound for its production.

Shelf Life, on the other hand, represents the maximum duration, starting from the time of manufacture, during which a rubber product, appropriately packaged, can be stored under specific conditions. Once this period has elapsed, the product is considered unserviceable for its original intended purpose.

Cure Date refers to the time of manufacture for rubber thermoset (vulcanized or cured) elastomers. In the case of rubber products, the cure date is typically considered the date of manufacture.

Rubber Storage & Shelf Life

Elastomers are prone to degradation through aging. The speed at which this degradation occurs is influenced by various factors:

  • Temperature              store between 15-25°C (59-77°F) and away from direct heat sources
  • Light                           avoid exposure to direct sunlight, artificial light or UV
  • Humidity                    below < 65% recommended
  • Ozone                         avoid placing near electric motors or high voltage electrical equipment
  • Chemical media        avoid exposure to any liquids or vapours
  • Deformation              tension, bending and twisting should be avoided. Do not hang, fold or roll 

Rule-of-Thumb Values for the Shelf life of Elastomer Compound

Storage TemperatureStorage Period
Over 25°Cmax. 5 days
20°C–25°Cmax. 14 days
below 20°Cmax. 28 days

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What is the shelf life for rubber?

A: The recommended storage duration for a rubber material is referred to as its shelf life. Different rubber materials have varying recommended shelf lives. Silicone stands out with its significantly extended shelf life in comparison to other rubber materials, enabling it to remain in storage for a duration of up to 20 years.. The following table presents the standard shelf life for various rubber materials, based on information from MIL-HDBK-695D Military Standardization Handbook for Rubber Products: Recommended Shelf Life.

Rubber MaterialRecommended Shelf Life
Natural Rubber3-5 years
Isoprene3-5 years
SBR3-5 years
Neoprene5-10 years
EPDM5-10 years
Butyl5-10 years
Nitrile5-10 years
Viton20 years
Silicone20 years

Q: How do you store rubber?

A: The storage conditions greatly impact the shelf life of a material. Inappropriate or unfavorable storage conditions can significantly reduce the expected shelf life of the material. It is advisable to store rubber in an environment with temperatures below 38°C, away from direct sunlight, UV rays, or intense artificial light. Ideally, the storage area should maintain humidity levels below 75%, or the rubber should be stored in sealed moisture-proof bags. Placing rubber near electrical motors or high voltage equipment should be avoided, as well as exposure to liquids or vapors. To prevent material deterioration, it is important not to hang, fold, or roll rubber products during storage, as this can cause tension and bending. Whenever possible, it is recommended to minimize the duration of rubber material storage.

Q: How do you prolong the life of rubber?

A: Numerous rubber materials feature double bonds within their polymer chains, making them readily vulcanizable with sulfur. However, these double bonds can react with oxygen or ozone present in the air, leading to rubber deterioration over time. To counteract this phenomenon, rubber compounds can be fortified with “antioxidants” and “antiozonants.” These chemical additives aid in enhancing the service life of the compound by mitigating the effects of oxidative and ozone degradation.

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