Analysis of rubber samples and determination of filler particle dispersion

The distribution of filler particles in rubber compounds determines the mechanical-dynamic properties of the material. In addition, it is an indicator of the quality in the entire rubber production process. To characterize the rubber compounds, the distribution (dispersion) of the filler particles (e.g. soot, silica or gel) is to be determined. In addition to measuring the number of particles per area, the size of all particles should also be determined.

There are various methods for the qualitative and quantitative determination of filler particle dispersion. However, these methods are usually subjective, time-consuming and can often only be used by experienced operators. Often the methods are not suitable for all fillers and they are rarely automated.

With a measuring tool based on a FRT MicroProf® the topography of a sample cutting surface (gloss cutting method) is recorded and the filler particle dispersion is calculated. The optical sensor enables non-contact and non-destructive recording of the soft sample surface. Even highly absorbent mixtures containing soot can be measured in a short time. The dispersion measurement is fully automated. One or more samples are placed in a holder. The operator enters the sample labels and the number of measurements into the computer and starts the measurement at the push of a button.

An automatic compressed air cleaning of the cutting surfaces as well as measurements of all samples are performed. The analysis software automatically corrects the tilt of the samples, eliminates any cutting marks and analyses the filler particle dispersion, which can be identified by bumps or cavities in the surface. In addition to the number of particles, particle diameters, particle depths and particle volumes are determined.

This measuring method enables the analysis of rubber mixtures with soot, silica or gel filling as well as other fillers. In addition, the measuring tool determines the surface roughness of the rubber samples.

The MicroProf® is the universal tool that can be used for all steps from development to final inspection of your rubber samples. With the MicroProf® it is possible to examine sample areas of up to 300 x 300 mm² in one measuring process. The requirements for a fast, highly accurate, non-destructive and easy to perform measurement are fully fulfilled.

By adding the thermo unit to the MicroProf®, you can measure the surface topography of rubber samples under controlled thermal load. This is essential because changes in the components due to thermal stress can lead to functional problems or even failures. Both fully automatic measurements of the surface topography at different temperatures and dwell times at constant temperatures are completely adjustable. The thermo unit is available as an extension for all FRT tools and is mounted as a separate module like a normal sample holder.

FRT offers both manual and fully integrated measurement solutions with robot-supported handling, recipe creation, automatic evaluation of measurement data and a SEMI-compliant SECS/GEM interface for connection to the Fab Host. Thanks to the modular multi-sensor concept, the tools can also keep up with ambitious roadmaps in your industry.

Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. Our experts will be glad to help you solve your measurement tasks by creating the best possible system configuration for you. In our opinion, a comprehensive solution consists not only of hardware and software development but also of complementary support and effective technical customer service. FRT provides on-site support through a worldwide network of subsidiaries and distributors. FRT Remote Support enables our experts to assist customers worldwide with any questions.