The following is a guest post by Mark Tool & Rubber located in Franklin, LA.
In the oilfield and wastewater business, splash zone water erosion and unmanaged rust are big problems that can jeopardize operations and lead to huge financial losses. That’s why elastomers, also known as industrial “rubbers,” have been used to coat pipes for nearly a century. They were the standard coating for nearly all pipes until the introduction of polyurethane coatings more than half a century ago.
High-density elastomer Splashtron coating has been used to coat pipelines for over 30 years, up to depths of over 1,000 feet. Splashtron is great because it:
- Bonds strongly to metal
- Bends with its surface — it will never crack or disband as a pipe flexes
- Shields from saltwater and oxygen; features exceptional durability
- Resists buildup of scale, fungus and sea life; is easy to clean
- Is a great electrical insulator
- Absorbs shock and resists impact damage
- Lasts indefinitely
Premium Splashtron coating isn’t for everyone, and it isn’t necessary for all purposes. Some simpler jobs call for simpler, more affordable coatings, and that’s when this rubber and polyurethane enters the picture.
Customers regularly ask about the difference between rubber and urethane options. In order to explain how they’re different and the pros and cons of each, let’s look at their benefits, first:
Advantages of Custom Molded Rubber
- Very strong; less rigid than other materials
- Withstands more stress and exhibits less wear
- Acts as non-conductive insulator
- Very affordable
Advantages of Cast Urethane
- Better strength, toughness, durability and versatility than rubber
- Is better suited for specific applications than rubber (due to strength)
- Has adjustable / customizable chemical properties for different applications
- More affordable than Splashtron
So, as you can see, the main difference between cast urethane and custom-molded rubber is cost. Polyurethane is all-around a better customizable solution, but rubber is quite simply more affordable — and both solutions are more affordable than the premium Splashtron coating for pipes.
A better way to understand the difference between rubber and urethane is to determine which applications call for their use most often:
Custom Molded Rubber Applications
- Pipe Rollers
- Tensioner Pads
- Custom molded equipment
Cast Urethane Applications
- Forklift Pads
- Pipe Line Supports
- Pipe Spacers
- Pipe Rollers
- Push Knee Pads
- Towline Protectors
- UreGuard VIV Strakes
Which should you use?
As you can see, cast urethane has more applications than rubber due to its higher versatility, strength, and durability. But rubber is still the material of choice for simpler applications, like pipe rollers and tensioner pads. Rubber is also preferable for custom-molded equipment.
It’s difficult to truly distinguish between the benefits of each material and what you’ll need for your project given a specific budget.