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Properties of Rubber

Natural rubber and synthetic rubber carry a variety of different characteristics and physical properties. To navigate your options and find the best rubber for your planned application, you must first understand the terminology used to describe various materials. The REDCO rubber manufacturing experts are here to help. Use this guide to help you better understand rubber characteristics, commonly used terms, and other properties of rubber as you evaluate your options.

Rubber Materials to Fit Your Needs

To get the best performance possible from your custom rubber components, a friendly and knowledgeable REDCO representative will guide you through your options to find the right solution for your production. Choices may include:

Download our Properties & Characteristics of Rubber fact sheet for information about specific rubber materials. If you’re still unsure which synthetic rubber is best for your production, call 775-882-3100 to speak with an expert directly.

Physical Characteristics of Rubber

Specific Gravity

Specific gravity describes the ratio of a rubber’s weight to the weight of an equal amount of water at a predetermined temperature. Specific gravity is an important physical property of rubber as it enables chemists to identify materials and part designers or technical buyers to estimate necessary square inches per pound.

A rubber’s specific gravity will vary depending on its chemical composition. For example, high-grade neoprene, nitrile, EPDM, and natural rubber materials have low specific gravity. Commercial synthetic rubbers will have higher specific gravity due to the greater percentage of heavy fillers.

Tensile Strength

Tensile strength describes the force required to pull a rubber part until it breaks. Sometimes called ultimate tensile strength, tensile strength is generally measured in PSI.


Also called rebound, resilience is a rubber material’s ability to return to its original shape and/or size after a temporary deformation. When manufacturing something like custom rubber gaskets or seals, you will want to select a rubber with a high degree of resilience.

Abrasion Resistance

Rubber parts and components may experience abrasion in tough applications due to scraping or rubbing. A material’s abrasion resistance notes how well it withstands that wear. This value is particularly relevant for conveyor belts, assembly lines, and custom rubber rollers.

Oxidation Resistance

Oxidation resistance describes synthetic rubber or natural rubber’s ability to withstand atmospheric oxygen.

Heat Resistance

Heat resistance measures how hot a rubber can become before its useful properties are destroyed, and the rubber component becomes inoperable.

Low Temperature Flexibility

Low temperature flexibility measures how low the rubber’s temperature can drop before the rubber becomes too stiff to function as designed.

Compression Set

A rubber’s compression set measures how well the material returns to its original thickness after being pressed beneath a load. This property is an essential rubber characteristic for seals, gaskets, and similar products.


Permeability is how easily a film of rubber allows a liquid or gas to pass through. High permeability allows a large volume to pass; low permeability allows a smaller volume to pass.

Flame Resistance

The flame resistance of synthetic rubber or other rubber measures the resistance of the material to burning. It can also be used in reference to how well the material will combust under ordinary conditions.

Acid Resistance

A rubber’s acid resistance describes the material’s ability to withstand concentrated or diluted acids.

Oxygenated Solvents

Oxygenated solvents are straight chain organic carbon structures such as alcohols, ethers, esters, ketones, and others.

Dielectric Properties

Rubber’s dielectric properties note how well or poorly it resists puncturing caused by electrical stress. In general, silicone rubber is the ideal solution for applications requiring synthetic rubber with excellent dielectric capabilities.

REDCO is Your #1 Source for Custom Rubber Manufacturing & Expert Knowledge

REDCO is your top provider of custom rubber manufacturing services and advanced industry knowledge. We process all types of thermoset elastomers, and our facilities include a developmental lab staffed with a full-time lab tech. With over 70 years in the business, we are ready to create custom compounds to meet your physical requirements or find a great solution from our library of rubber materials.

Contact us today to learn more about our custom services and material options. Request a quote to start your order.