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Why use Fabric Reinforced Rubber Sheeting

05 Nov 2020 | Posted by Andrew Onions

Why use Fabric Reinforced Rubber Sheeting

Fabric reinforcement, more commonly referred to as insertion, is usually comprised of one, two or more layers of fabric vulcanized into the rubber at specified points.  The type of reinforcement can vary depending upon the polymer type and the application, but is commonly fabrics such as fiberglass, polyester, or rayon.

These reinforcement fabrics impart additional properties to the rubber over and above the normal mechanical properties such as dimensional stability in gaskets under load, increased mechanical strength and in some load bearing applications, lower deflection.

The right choice of fabric is not limited to improving mechanical properties.

Choosing the right fabric reinforcement for your rubber sheeting application can be critical especially where there are specific characteristics you are trying to maintain.  There is no point putting a cotton reinforcement in an application where you need to seal against liquids as the cotton has wicking properties that will draw through liquid by capillary action.  Similarly, you would not want a fabric reinforcement that allows electrical conductivity in an electrical insulation application, or a flammable reinforcement in a flame-retardant requirement.  

In applications involving UV exposure or liquid immersion conditions, a Fiberglass Fabric would be our best recommendation. Whereas Polyester fabric would be better in applications requiring good electrical insulation, or increased resistance to alkalis, acids, and solvents. Additionally, applications requiring Fire Resistance would be better served by a Rayon Fabric.   

We can recommend the correct rubber gasket material and fabric reinforcement for your application.

High Loads vs Good Deformation

In many applications a rubber gasket material is selected for its ability to deform under load and produce an effective seal, either stopping liquids or gases getting out, or stopping contaminants getting in. But deformation is mainly required in the thickness of the gasket.  Loss of volume due to compression set or creep can often cause the gasket to leak and installation guidelines recommend regular re-torqueing of bolts to maintain an effective load on the gasket material.

Depending on the grade of rubber material or the amount of load, one or more layers of an appropriate fabric reinforcement can improve the materials resistance to creep and therefore reduce the compression set of the gasket material, providing a longer life and better performance.

Conversely in applications involving high loads with either limited amounts or no restraint of material to deform, such as load bearings, engineers will not want the material to significantly compress or require it to deform in a predictable way.  To achieve this, multiple layers of fabric reinforcement can be built into the rubber as this will restrict the movement or deformation and consequently significantly increase the load bearing capabilities of the base material.

Using the Wrong Fabric Insertion !

Adding a high-quality fabric reinforcement to your material can improve the performance of your seal, gasket, diaphragm, load bearing, impact or insulation pad. Conversely using the wrong fabric insertion could undermine the quality of the finished article.

Low cost commercial materials will often use a loose weave insertion that does little to improve the mechanical performance in the way it might be envisioned by a design engineer.

Equally over specifying the fabric reinforcement can make the material inflexible or incompressible and therefore unsuitable for its application, especially gaskets where some degree of compression is required to achieve an effective seal.   

MacLellan has a wealth of experience in identifying the rubber sheet material and right fabric insertion for your application. We offer extensive technical support, to companies in a diverse range of industries operating in a wide range of environments, backed up by our global manufacturing and research partners.

For more information on how we can work with you, contact our sales team.