What To Choose Out Of Rubber And Polyurethane For Tubing?

Tubing has several applications. There are several tubing materials like PVC, polyurethane, rubber, etc. Based on the various factors like temperature, rust resistance, inertness, outdoor use, and much more, the right tubing material can be chosen for an application. Each material has its own unique characteristics that enable it to be suitable for a certain type of tubing. In case you are confused whether to choose polyurethane tubing or rubber tubing.

Polyurethane Tubing

Comparison of the characteristics of rubber and polyurethane:

#1. Weight

Advantage – polyurethane. Rubber tubing is heavier than polyurethane tubing. To be exact, it is two times heavier than polyurethane. So, rubber tubing is difficult to handle if the tubing is too long.

#2. Durability

Advantage – polyurethane. Polyurethane is considered to be one of the most durable materials, not only in tubing but in various other applications as well. So, this durability is extremely essential when the tube is used across rough and sharp surfaces, or if pulled around corners, etc. On the other hand, rubber is soft and thereby being easier to suffer wear and tear.

#3. Kink- resistance

Advantage – polyurethane. As polyurethane is a sturdier material, it is less likely to kink. But in the case of rubber, as it is soft, can easily kink and also has a kink memory. This means that it will kink again and again from the place it has once kinked and that leads to eventually damaging the tubing. On the other hand, polyurethane tubing has zero kink memory.

#4. Flexibility

Advantage – rubber. The rubber tubing being softer is obviously more flexible and easy to handle than polyurethane. The rubber tube can be wrapped back onto any reel or be folded uniformly and look neat while polyurethane has a certain amount of spring effect to it which makes it difficult to be nicely and neatly wrapped on a reel. So, while tubing in complicated spaces with a lot of turns and place with changing alignment that requires flexibility, polyurethane tubing is not preferred. Rubber is extremely flexible even at extremely cold temperatures.

#5. Pressure tolerance

Advantage – polyurethane. The tubing can burst if the inside pressure exceeds its pressure rating. Rubber has low-pressure tolerance as it is not as sturdy and durable as polyurethane. Rubber has a pressure rating of 150 PSI while that of polyurethane is 160 PSI. So, it is advisable to use polyurethane tubing at places where the fluid is flowing at extremely high pressures.

#6. Temperature tolerance

Advantage – rubber. Each tubing material has a temperature range that it can withstand. The wider the range, the beneficial. Rubber has a range of -40°F to 190°F while polyurethane has the range of -40°F to 165°F. So, rubber tubing is preferred more in industries.

Polyurethane Tubing

#7. Chemically inert

Advantage – polyurethane. Rubber can get decomposed when exposed to acids and can even contaminate water due to its reactivity. Polyurethane, on the other hand, is inert as it is a polymer and can withstand acidic natures of fluids as well. Polyurethane tubing is therefore considered safe for supplying drinking water. Polyurethane tubing is used in industries dealing with chemicals. Rubber tubing often transfers the rubbery smell and taste to the fluids flowing from within.

#8. Fittings

Advantage – polyurethane. As polyurethane does not kink, the fitting and maintenance are easier than rubber tubing. There is a very low maintenance cost for several years in polyurethane tubing. There is a limit to the diameter of the rubber tubing as it itself is heavy in weight and has less strength. So, it may not be able to withstand the weight of the fluid flowing through it.

#9. UV and sunlight resistance

Advantage – polyurethane. Rubber deteriorates with time under the effect of UV and sunlight. This cannot happen in the case of polyurethane tubing as it is highly resilient to sunlight and extreme weather conditions.

The factors that are essential for your application are to be considered while choosing the type of tubing.


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