Sumitomo Rubber Industries (SRI) says it has cracked the mystery surrounding rubber failure, in a joint study with the Dresden, Germany-based Leibniz Institute for Polymer Research.
This groundbreaking research has shed light on the heretofore unknown mechanism that causes microscopic voids within the rubber (i.e. the presumed origin of rubber failure) and leading to the formation and propagation of cracks.
These findings open up new possibilities for the future development of rubber compounds that feature greater wear resistance than any type of rubber that has come before. “Our company will continue working to translate the results of our cutting-edge research into high-performance tyres that resist wear to maintain their performance for longer lifetime, SRI says in a Press release.
While it has long been suspected that rubber failure (one of the major factors behind the phenomenon of tyre wear) is due to the formation and growth of cracks in the rubber resulting from the fracturing of rubber molecules and the formation of voids within rubber at the microscopic scale, previous research had failed to fully explicate this theory. “Thus, our company set out to observe the formation of voids in synthetic rubber. In 2015, we succeeded in shedding light on the formation of voids thanks to detailed molecular-level structural simulations that utilized our proprietary ADVANCED 4D NANO DESIGN as a new materials development technology, which has allowed us to establish new technologies to suppress void formation. With this latest joint research, we have now succeeded in directly observing internal structural changes in combination with the mechanical behavior of molecules within actual synthetic rubber specimens through two different types of experiments,” the company says.
The findings of this research will open up new possibilities for the development of rubber materials with extremely high durability by giving us greater control over viscoelastic properties of the rubber itself, SRI adds.