Classification of properties of elastomers using the “optimum property concept.” I. Introduction



An attempt is made to distinguish properties of elastomers by types. “Basic properties of materials” or “network properties” in elastomers are properties which either increase or decrease from the liquid to the solid state of materials or over the range of the “elastomeric plateau” of elastomers. From these are distinguished properties that exhibit characteristic maxima and are therefore “maximum properties” or bivalued properties. Mechanical failure properties show the characteristics of “maximum properties.” The maxima in “maximum properties” generally do not coincide. This noncoincidence of the maxima with a change in a “basic property of a material” has major theoretical and practical implications, for example, it is the cause of the crossovers in the relative performance rating of materials under different test conditions. The implications of this noncoincidence of the failure property maxima on the relevance of correlations between these properties are discussed. A change in the testing conditions is reflected in a shift of the optimum value in a “basic property of a material” with respect to a specific “maximum property.” Data and certain conclusions in the literature are interpreted on the basis of this concept. Examples of the limitations of the validity of mathematical relationships are presented. Also, a definition of the term “state of cure” is proposed and a suggestion for the rating of severities of test equipment and applications of elastomeric materials recommended. The effect of increased degrees of crosslinking for a series of polymers and crosslinking agents is assessed. It is suggested that the “mechanisms” of failure properties will remain elusive if their rationalization is attempted on the basis of other failure properties, e.g., the mechanism of abrasion on that of tear strength or cut growth. The main purpose of this proposal is to provide support for a drastic reduction in laboratory testing by identifying those properties which can lead to different relative ratings in routine evaluations and actual applications. A more empirical approach to materials evaluations is recommended based on the calibration of laboratory instrumentation with respect to specific applications. A de-emphasis of routine evaluations of materials on the basis of their “maximum properties” seems to be justified.