An elastomer is a substance, characterized by high elasticity and viscoelasticity, which regains its original size and shape after being deformed. Elastomers include natural rubber and various synthetic materials with similar properties. All are polymers in which the molecular chains are folded; stretching the elastomer straightens the chains. Elastomers are widely used in various industries, including automotive, aerospace, medical, and consumer goods, due to their unique properties.


One of the key features of elastomers is their ability to deform and recover their original shape when subjected to external stresses, such as stretching or compression. This property is known as elasticity and is a result of the molecular structure of elastomers, which consists of long polymer chains that can easily slide past each other. When a stress is applied, the chains are stretched and aligned, storing energy in the material. When the stress is released, the chains relax back to their original position, releasing the stored energy and causing the material to return to its initial shape.


Elastomers also exhibit viscoelastic behavior, meaning they have both viscous and elastic properties. This is due to the fact that the polymer chains in elastomers are not perfectly aligned, and there is some degree of entanglement between them. As a result, when a stress is applied, the chains not only stretch but also slide past each other, causing the material to deform over time. This behavior is often described using a stress-strain curve, which shows the relationship between the applied stress and resulting strain over time.


There are many types of elastomers, each with its own unique properties and applications. Some common elastomers include natural rubber, synthetic rubber, silicone rubber, and polyurethane. Natural rubber is derived from the sap of rubber trees and is known for its high elasticity and resistance to abrasion and tearing. Synthetic rubber, on the other hand, is made from petroleum-based chemicals and can be tailored to meet specific performance requirements, such as resistance to heat, chemicals, and ozone.