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Plastic Tubing Vs. Rubber Tubing

Tubing, or a hollow form available in varying material compositions and configurations, has myriad uses in structural applications, electrical sheathing, and fluid transportation. It usually comes in a cylindrical profile, but there are many design options for shape, dimensions, thickness, and materials. In this blog, learn more about plastic vs. rubber tubing and the options for customizing plastic tubing.

Plastic Tubing Explained

Thick or thin plastic tubing consists of a polymer material and chemical mixture, enabling manufacturers to create flexible or rigid tubing tailored to your application’s requirements. One common plastic that manufacturers utilize for plastic tubing, polyurethane, has origins dating back to World War II as a rubber alternative. Its durability actually exceeds that of rubber for tubing, giving it great versatility. Other plastics applicable for tubing include polyethylene, vinyl, polycarbonates, polystyrene, and nylon.

Manufacturers typically use plastic extrusion, pultrusion, or cell casting to create this tubing, forcing heated plastic through a die to achieve the tubing’s required diameter. They can produce plastic tubing with varying degrees of elasticity or flexibility so that it can handle basic fluid transfer and flow, structural system or industrial tasks, and even electrical or heating assembly insulation and robotics applications.

To determine the right plastic tubing for your application, you should consider factors such as design, shape, size, and material construction. Also, decide if standard tubing will meet your needs, or if your project is sufficiently complex or specific that it would benefit from custom tubing. Customized tubing allows you to select the forming process, finishes, coloring, and material performance and resistance capabilities that will work best for your unique application.

Why Choose Plastic Tubing?

There are many benefits associated with plastic tubing. These include:

  • Strength. Plastic typically possesses good tensile strength. This durability gives it the ruggedness it needs to handle varying levels of general wear, abrasion, and corrosion.
  • Performance. Plastic’s optimal resistance capabilities for withstanding environmental conditions give tubing of this material good functionality.
  • Diversity. Plastic tubing is highly customizable. With numerous options for design, material construction, load capacity, resistance capabilities, color, and more, it’s a versatile option for diverse applications and industries.
  • Affordability. Of the various types of tubing available on the market, plastic tubing tends to be more economical.
  • Recyclability. As plastic is recyclable, tubing of this material is a good option for its sustainability.
  • Light weight. With the exception of some rigid plastics, this material is relatively lightweight, particularly when compared to metal.

Rubber Tubing Explained

Rubber tubing of synthetic and natural composites and elastomers has, to some extent, been around since the nineteenth century. Also referred to as rubber piping or hose, these tubes have applications in creating a protective sheath or moving gases and liquids, circulating them within industrial, construction, medical, or residential systems, to name a few. Available in an array of sizes, thicknesses, and diameters, versatile rubber tubing can fit varied needs.

The rubber content of these tubes is an elastomer with durable strength. The rubber composition within a tube gives it the unique capability to stretch and, as a result, deform, all without actually causing lasting damage within the tubing.

Manufacturers can make rubber tubing through two different techniques, using either extrusion or a mandrel. The extrusion process relies on pressure to force the rubber material through a die to shape it into tubing. In the mandrel process, manufacturers wrap strips of rubber around the surface of a pipe and apply heat.

Why Choose Rubber Tubing?

Like plastics, rubber tubing has its own advantageous qualities for certain applications. These include:

  • High tensile strength. Rubber is another durable tubing material option for its ability to hold up well under tension.
  • Resistance capabilities. Tubing made of rubber is able to withstand tearing, both high and low temperatures for thermal stability, resist some chemicals, and bear electrical discharges.
  • Flexibility. Rubber material generally has a degree of elasticity, even when the rubber is thick. This flexibility helps rubber tubing to absorb vibrations, impact, and shock. When it comes to rubber tubing, special bending isn’t necessary.
  • Aesthetic options. Rubber tubing is available in a variety of colors should your project require a certain aesthetic.

Plastic Tubing From Inline Plastics, Inc.

When you find yourself asking “Where can I buy plastic tubing,” turn to the experts at Inline Plastics, Inc. We specialize in custom plastic extrusions, and our work in plastic tubing, rods, profiles, and shapes is backed by over 25 years of experience in the industry. To handle specialized requirements, we utilize 20 different thermoplastics for versatile options that are FDA-certified, Class VI radiation sterilizable, commercial-grade, and NSF and U.L. approved.

Whatever your needs, our experts have you covered with quality extrusions and rapid turn times, all at competitive prices. Contact us today to learn more about our custom plastic tubing capabilities, or request a quote to start your project.

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