Unfortunately, in our industry there are many people who have no knowledge of the product they are selling, or are simply trying to mislead the customer – each day we come across claims such as ‘100% rubber – made from pure natural Indian rubber, from the rubber trees themselves’ – this is a typical statement that is wholly untrue!
Why ? – if a standard animal mat were made from pure rubber (Hevea Brasiliensis) – weighing in at an average of 44kgs per mat – you should expect to pay around £124.00 per mat after processing as a minimum price ! *spot price USD3.50/kg green bale natural rubber India Jan2011
Fact – animal mats need to be cost effective (another word for cheap we’re afraid!) – to reduce costs, processors tweak the compound used – firstly inert additives can be used – carbon and clay are prime examples – secondly, by using pre-vulcanised rubber – either chipped or ground up as a filler, the amount of new rubber being used can again be reduced – often down to less than 7% of the mix. ROHSS compliant chemicals are used to process the material and re-vulcanise the recycled material, allowing this to be blended into the rubber mix or compound.
These compounds are then heat moulded under pressures of up to 400 tonnes, and the material is cured according to specfic time and temperature requirements.
The compounds we specify for manufacture are designed to give an adequate usable life of 10 years plus, and to be affordably priced. Our materials are primarily sourced from India, Malaysia, China and South America.
Rubber Materials used in Mat Production
NR – Natural Rubber – produced from Latex from various plant sources, principally the rubber tree, Hevea Brasilensis. The material in it’s vulcanised form has very good mechanical properties and high-wear characteristics.
SBR – Styrene Butadiene Rubber – this is basically a synthetic replication of Natural Rubber
EPR – Ethylene Propylene Rubber – this is a co-polymer of ethylene and propylene and is used mostly in strengthening other polymers.
EPDM – Ethylene Propylene Diene (M class) – this is a terpolymer or ethylene, propylene and diene used for its significant resistance to ozone attack and general weathering. It is typically used in water applications and can be supplied to WRAS (potable water) approval.
CR – Polychloroprene synthetic rubber, generally known as Neoprene. It has moderate resistance to chemicals, acids, ox=zone, oils, fates, grease and solvents.
NBR – Acrylonitrile-Butadiene – or Nitrile Rubber has good resistance to oils, fuels and gases, but is not particularly good for general weathering. In matting, it is often used for internal use in greasy envirnments such as kitchens or workshops.
These are the main polymers used in mat production. By blending different polymers and including various fillers, mats are produced for different applications. In the equine market for instance, a hard wearing rubber is required with a certain hardness which emulates dry ground conditions. Price is also a consideration, and by the addition of fillers and re-cycled material we can produce material that is both cheap and helps to reduce our carbon foot-print.
Hardness – rubber is measured according to hardness in a IRHD (International Rubber Hardness Durometer) scale – from as low as 10° to 95° Shore A(unit of measurement). Matting materials tend to be made from mid-range hardness of 60° to 75° but special production of softer or harder mats can be arranged. Hardness tolerance is typically ±5° on the base hardness used in production.
Tolerance – being flexible, rubber generally has a wider tolerance than plastics, which in turn have a wider tolerance to metal. We manufacture to BRMA (British Rubber Manufacturing Association) tolerances – based on thickness these are generally accepted as ±10 on materials over 10mm (18mm material can vary from 16.2mm to 19.8mm thickness
Weight – the tolerance allowed on the material contributes to the tolerance in sheet weight in both roll-form and moulded sheet materials. This is normally accepted at ±10% of the average sheet or square metre weight.
Temperature Effect – like all materials, rubber expands with heat and contracts with cold, so some movement can be expected in mats when laid at different times of the year. Each different polymer has varying resistance to temperature at both minus and high temperatures. Most synthetic polymers are suitable for temps up to and around 100°C, however Natural Rubber and SBR materials are only generally good at temperatures up to 70°C.
Specific Gravity – this is the basic density of the finished mat or sheet material – measured in kgs/1mm thickness / square metre (ie 1.4sg material at 17mm thickness would be 23.8kgs per square metre).
Measurement – the thickness of matting is measured from the top of the profile to the bottom of the mat and is classed as the overall thickness. We quote mat thickness based on the tooling used to manufacture the mats. As an example, a standard Bubbletop mat at 17mm thickness overall includes the bubble dome on the top of the mat which can measure up to 3mm in height (tooling is approx 2.7mm bubble height).
Dimensions – the tolerance on dimensions of rolls and sheets are also defined in the same way as material thickness. In general the allowance made on width is ±3% and on length ±5% – we do aim to keep well within these parameters, especially on matting products, but always suggest that anyone laying mats, measures the mats carefully before laying and places mats so they match corresponding mats – or simply trim them to size as being laid for that perfect finish.
Tensile Strength – this is the force per unit area of original cross section of the sample, required to stretch the original cross section of the sample rubber test piece to its breaking point. The unit of measure (force) is normally MPa (MegaPascals).
Elongation – this is a measurement of a test-piece of material and demonstrates how much the material stretched on the Tensile Strength test when it breaks. The measurement is taken as a percentage reading of the samples original length before being stretched. These tests are made on specific samples so often cannot be related directly to sheet or mats as factors such as thickness, temperature, edge profile (ie knife cuts) etc can affect the tear resistance, and therefore the test characteristics, of the material.
Tear Strength – using constant pressure, this is the force measured to produce a tear on a right-angled nick-cut in a pre-defined material test piece. The test is particularly useful in items such as belts or drive bands.
Compression Set – this is the amount – in percentage, that a sample does not return to it’s former thickness after a compessive load is applied for a specific time.
Cold Flow – this is a characteristic seen easiliy in EVA foam matting – under cold compression (no heat) the material physically stretches and spreads under load, normally the compression set figures for the material are therefore high, but more importantly the material becomes thinner and the sheet size gets bigger.
Odour – each type of rubber can have a particular odour, and those with keen sense of smell can identify some polymers. In the main, all rubbers smell of rubber – when newly moulded certain plasticisers and extenders used in the process will continue to leach out, making the rubber smell more pungent – this smell often dissipates within a few days (can last longer in hot weather) but can easiliy be masked with disinfectant – or simply left to air.
Taste – we no not suggest that animal grade materials should be eaten – while primarily made from non-toxic materials they are not designed to come in contact with human foodstuffs or drinks. We do have some materials that are either FDA, WRAS or NFA approved for use in direct contact with foods.
There are many other characteristics and resistance tables available for these and the many other rubber and plastic products that we supply, however the above information is provided for our most common products and should be used as a guide only when contemplating your particular requirement.
All recommendations and information contained in the above are to the best of our knowledge correct. Since conditions of service are beyond our control, users must satisfy themselves that the products are suitable for the intended use. No warranty is given or implied in respect of information or recommendations or that any use of products will infringe rights belonging to other parties. In any event or occurrence our liability is limited to the invoice value of our goods delivered to you. We reserve the right to change product design and properties.