Rubber has been used as cable insulation and sheathing material long before other insulation such as PVC and PE can to be commonly applied. It remains widely used across domestic and industrial applications.
Initially, natural rubbers were used but these have been largely replaced by various synthetic rubbers. All rubbers are thermoset or cross-linked by a process referred to as Vulcanisation. As thermoset materials they do not soften or melt when exposed to heat.
The properties of these base rubbers can be significantly changed through the addition of various additives including fillers, vulcanising agents, accelerators, antioxidants, and antiozonants.
Typical rubber cable compounds include Natural rubber, SBR or Styrene-Butadiene Rubber, Butyl, EPR or Ethylene Propylene Rubber, Silicone, Polychloroprene, Chlorosulphonated Polyethylene (PCP), and Fluorocarbon.
The principle advantage of all rubber cables over other insulated cables is the excellent flexibility in temperature range. They also have very good water absorption properties. Many rubber cables also have superior abrasion resistance and weathering resistance making them particularly suitable in harsh environments as trailing leads for portable electrical appliances, power tools, pumps and generators. Rubber cables are also compounded to give excellent resistant to oils and other chemicals.
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