The flammability of a rubber or polymer material depends significantly on the formulation. As these materials are utilized in common consumer products, the characterization of their flame resistance becomes critical to ensuring safety.
Rubber and polymer formulations have been developed and improved to include a variety of flame retardants to improve their safety characteristics. The burning process for polymers involves several key stages which need to be studied to understand the potential for flammability and smoke generation:
- Condensed phase: At this point, the polymer is still a solid and can experience melting and different flow characteristics.
- Mesophase: Between the condensed phase and gas phase, one can generally observe charring and pyrolysis
- Gas phase: As heat and exposure time increase, the release of gases from the polymer can cause combustion and smoke.
There are numerous fire, flammability, and smoke testing standards to verify the performance of a rubber or polymer material. We commonly test rubber and plastic blends, seals, fabrics and various types of electrical wire.
- ASTM D635 - Standard Test Method for Rate of Burning and/or Extent and Time of Burning of Plastics in a Horizontal Position
- FMVSS 302 - Flammability of materials used in the occupant compartments of motor vehicles
- ISO 3795 – Road Vehicles, and Tractors and Machinery for Agriculture and Forestry – Determination of Burning Behaviors of Interior Materials
- UL 94 - Standard for Tests for Flammability of Plastic Materials for Parts in Devices and Appliances