Rubber Media

Rubber media appear as porous, flexible rubber sheets and microporous hard rubber sheets. Commercial rubber media have 1100-6400 holes/in.2 with pore diameters of 0.012-0.004 in. They are manufactured out of soft rubber, hard rubber, flexible hard rubber and soft neoprene. The medium is prepared on a master form, consisting of a heavy fabric belt, surfaced on one side with a layer of rubber filled with small round pits uniformly spaced. These pits are 0.020 in. deep, and the number per unit area and their surface diameter determine the porosity of the sheet. A thin layer of latex is fed to the moving belt by a spreader bar so that the latex completely covers the pits, yet does not run into them. This process traps air in each pit. The application of heat to the under-surface of the blanket by a steam plate causes the air to expand, blowing little bubbles in the film of latex. When the bubbles burst, small holes are left, corresponding to the pits. The blown rubber film, after drying, is cooled and the process repeated until the desired thickness of sheet is obtained. The sheet is then stripped off of the master blanket and vulcanized. Approximately 95% of the pits are reproduced as holes in the rubber sheet. The holes are not exactly cylindrical in shape but are reinforced by slight constrictions which contribute to strength and tear resistance. This type is referred to as "plain," and can be made with fabric backing on one or both sides to control stretching characteristics. If the unvulcanized material is first stretched, and then vulcanized while stretched, it is called "expanded." Resulting holes are oval and have a higher porosity (sometimes up to 30%). Special compounds have been formulated for resistance to specific chemicals under high concentrations at elevated temperatures, such as 25% sulfuric acid at 180°F. The smooth surface allows the removal of thinner cakes than is possible with cotton or wool fabrics. Rubber does not show progressive binding and it can be readily cleaned and used in temperatures up to 180°F. On the other hand, because a clear filtrate is difficult to obtain when filtering finely divided solids, a precoat often becomes necessary.

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