Sport-utility-vehicle owners and conveyor-belt operators would like to know the same thing. When is the rubber they so depend upon going to rip apart?
Now, there's a new technique for testing the health of rubber in a tire, conveyor belt, seal, gasket, or other structure. The new test could help factories determine when to replace rubber parts in routine preventive maintenance, says Maria Forsyth of Monash University in Victoria, Australia. She described the procedure last month in Honolulu at the 2000 International Chemical Congress of Pacific Basin Societies.
In widely used methods of analyzing rubber's condition, testers either visually inspect the material or remove a sample and mechanically measure its density, tear resistance, and other properties, says Forsyth. She and her colleagues conceived of a new technique while working with a mining company to determine the health of its conveyor belts.