Looking for a rubber component supplier can be a daunting task. The process is so multi-layered with discussions of materials (there are a bunch of them) and manufacturing processes (there are a bunch of those, too). And the variations of materials and processes makes for a fairly complex decision tree. But if you like asking questions, it'll be right up your alley. We've got two sets of questions for you. First up, questions that will help you identify the right manufacturer. Second, questions to help you figure out the right material for your part or product. Let's get to it!
1 | What manufacturing processes do they offer? The more processes they offer, the better. Here's a list of typical rubber manufacturing processes:
2 | Does the supplier have experience in the manufacturing process you need and have the right equipment and capabilities (tool shop, presses, molds)?
3 | Does the supplier have engineering and quality support available and on-site?
4 | What types of materials do they work in?
5 | How close is the supplier to the raw materials?
In 2016, the top three countries in natural rubber production were:
Locating your rubber component production close to where rubber is being made makes a lot of sense from a supply chain perspective.
6 | Do they have a control process for batching (to ensure raw materials are measured & mixed accurately)?
7 | What is the inspection process: IQC – QC – and Finished Goods Quality Inspection?
8 | Is there a Quality Laboratory with the proper testing equipment?
There are a lot of variables that go into choosing a material and a process, but one question in particular will drive the decision making process: What is the application? What will your product be used for?
Once you've answered that question, additional questions will follow:
The chart below provides an idea of each material and its resistance to heat, cold and other properties.
Chart courtesy of Datwyler Sealing Solutions USA, Inc.
Of course, you'll want to ask for references and samples. Check with your network to find out who they're using. There are plenty of rubber component supplier out there, it's just a matter of finding the right one. With a good bit of leg work, and your lists of questions, you'll be in production in no time.
Are you ready to scale up production? Download our free guide below: