Rubber Vulcanization Ovens
Vulcanization is a chemical process for converting rubber or related polymers into more durable materials through the addition of sulfur or other equivalent “curatives.” These additives modify the polymer by forming crosslinks (bridges) between individual polymer chains. Vulcanized materials are less sticky and have superior mechanical properties. A vast array of products is made with vulcanized rubber including tires, automotive weather strips, sealings, shoe soles, hoses, and hockey pucks. The process is named after Vulcan, the Roman God of Fire.
Uncured Natural Rubber is sticky, deforms easily when warm, and is brittle when cold and hence is very poor in elasticity. The reason for inelastic deformation of un-vulcanized rubber can be found in its chemical structure. Rubber is composed of long polymer chains. These chains can move independently relative to each other, which lets the material change shape. Crosslinking introduced by vulcanization prevents the polymer chains from moving independently. As a result, when stress is applied the vulcanized rubber deforms, but upon release of the stress, it reverts to its original shape.