Over the last few years, elastomer technology has developed into a highly interdisciplinary field of research, which is being worked on in close cooperation between the University of Leoben and the Polymer Competence Center Leoben.
The area of elastomer chemistry deals with efficient cross-linking strategies for solid rubber and latex materials as well as new approaches for the production of biocompatible elastomers. In basic research work, switchable elastomers are developed that can adapt their chemical structure and material properties to environmental conditions. In addition, the development of polyurethane-based nanocomposites and isocyanate-free elastomers is breaking new ground in the production of sustainable materials.
The main focus of research in the area of elastomer processing is on process simulation and the development of new approaches for error-free production processes. Simulation models for the metering and injection phases are improved by including viscoelastic material data. In addition, sophisticated control systems are being developed that are able to adapt to changes in the process and the rubber compound. In-line sensors enable the calculation of the cross-linking density and provide an important basis for in-line control and the adjustment of cross-linking times in case of process deviations.
Characterisation and simulation
Research in the area of characterisation and simulation deals with the material properties and reliability of elastomers under demanding environmental conditions and complex load conditions. The failure mechanisms of elastomers are investigated in detail, for example under rapid gas decompression and in hydraulic systems (including abrasion), in order to develop essential principles for the development of "fail-safe" seals and hoses. In addition to structural properties, research is also aimed at characterising and producing functional mechanical elastomers (e.g. load coupling effects in fibre-reinforced elastomers).