Rubber industry is very vital in our modern life. It provides the main materials for various products that people are using in their day-to-day activities. To create more innovations in the production process, the use of kaolin in rubber industry has become frequent. There are several benefits that it can provide to the industry.
How Does the Industry Benefit from Kaolin?
Kaolin provides significant contributions to the rubber industry, particularly in recent years. The material is mainly used as filler for many rubber-based products due to its characteristics. Filler in rubber manufacturing works as a reinforcing agent. It improves the strength and durability of the rubber product.
The more popular filler options are black carbon and silica. Unfortunately, these two materials possess numerous disadvantages. The most apparent disadvantage is from a financial standpoint, as silica is relatively expensive. Additionally, there are some chemical issues that the two filler materials have when interacting with other components.
Meanwhile, the use of kaolin in rubber industry is considered a breakthrough because of the following attributes:
- It provides more than adequate mechanical reinforcement to the mix.
- It improves the strength and stiffness of the rubber.
- It enhances the electrical insulation capability of the rubber product.
- It is capable of resisting abrasion.
- It provides better resistance towards heat.
- It does not absorb excessive moisture.
With reduced cost, the rubber manufacturer is able to produce high-quality products if it switches to kaolin filler. It means more affordable rubber-based products for people too. However, the natural kaolin needs enhancement to be able to perform well in production. Research is done to produce modified kaolin for rubber manufacturing.
Innovations of Kaolin in Rubber Industry
Scientists have come up with innovations related to the use of kaolin in rubber manufacturing. They go through a process called refinement. In the refinement stage, the structure of kaolin is modified so that it can produce certain results. After that, the modified kaolin is tested in a manufacturing experiment.
Here are some innovative kaolin products that are used as materials in the production of rubber:
1. Hydrous Kaolin
This type of kaolin has a very fine particle size like regular kaolin. However, the most palpable difference is that its particle has a lamellar or plate shape, and thus the kaolin product has chemical inertness. Using hydrous kaolin filler in rubber production will make extrusion easier, improve tear and tensile strength, and increase rigidity.
2. Water Washed Clay
This engineered kaolin is often named calcined kaolin. It is produced by heating the clay inside a kiln at a very high temperature. Usually, this type of kaolin in rubber industry is used as a filler in cable and wire manufacturing. It enables vibrant coloring and provides strong reinforcement to the structure.
3. Hard Kaolin
The particles of hard kaolin are considerably smaller. Because of that, it tends to be more stiff and durable. The surface is also more resistant to abrasion. This engineered kaolin product is commonly used in rubber manufacturing. The more popular variation is surface treated clay and air float clay.
4. Soft Kaolin
Soft kaolin differs from hard kaolin in terms of particle size. The particle size is significantly larger than hard kaolin. When the manufacturer wants to produce rubber cheaply, soft kaolin is often preferred. It does not offer the same strength and durability as the hard kaolin, but the extrusion rate is satisfactory.
5. SRSO Kaolin
The SRSO refers to the sodium salt of rubber seed oil, which shows the production process of this engineered kaolin. In rubber manufacturing, there is a curing step that turns the rubber into a more solid form. Using this kaolin as a filler can shorten the curing time while not sacrificing the strength and stretchiness of the rubber product.
More kaolin innovations are continuously created to produce high-quality rubber products. Extensive research in kaolin is not going to end soon as people begin to realize the importance of this material in the industry. Future direction will not only relate to the material’s functionality but also its environmental impact.
The switch to kaolin in rubber industry, particularly as the filler material, is quite novel. Despite that, it soon becomes a preferred alternative to the more expensive and unreliable material. There are many other innovations of kaolin products out there. They are not only used by this industry.