Abstract

Research in the prediction of durability and service life for elastomeric products has been actively pursued over the past decade because these materials are finding increasingly abundant applications in the automotive, aerospace and medical industries. Elastomers are used in many critical service applications that require long trouble free life, such as gaskets, seals, bridge pad bearings, tires, medical components and rocket fuel binders. For example, elastomeric seals are used in many applications where seals are relatively inaccessible and cost of replacement is too great. Thus, a fifty year service life for seal life is now a clearly stated objective for the energy industry (Hertz, 1997). The life expectation for elastomeric components on vehicles has changed dramatically over the past few years. Previously, many rubber components were viewed as items that would be replaced once or more during the life of a vehicle. Now, elastomeric components are expected to last the life of the vehicle, which is currently defined as 10 years/150,000 miles for both passenger cars and light trucks (Pett, 1997).

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