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Buna-N vs EPDM: Which is Better for Your Parts?

Posted by Joe Hoffman
Buna-N vs EPDM: Which is Better for Your Parts?

Choosing the right type of rubber for custom parts is essential for long-term part success. What makes material selection difficult is that there is a wide range of rubber materials available, and every one of them offers different benefits. That's why it's difficult to determine which rubber is ideal for your specific performance needs.

Part of this process often comes down to deciding between a pair of compounds, such as EPDM and Buna-N, also known as Nitrile rubber. Although both materials may seem similar at first glance, you'll actually find that they're pretty different.

If you're wondering whether EPDM or Buna-N is best-suitable for you, you're at the right place. Read on to find a complete EPDM vs. Buna-N breakdown to find out their major differences and uses.

EPDM vs Nitrile Rubber: Is Buna the Same as EPDM?

While EPDM and Nitrile are both synthetic rubbers that share some characteristics, there are some distinct differences between the two materials.

Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) is a type of synthetic material that consists of ethylene, propylene, and a diene comonomer. Buna-N has many different names, including Nitrile Butadiene Rubber (NBR), and Acrylonitrile Butadiene Rubber. It is a type of synthetic rubber that consists of acrylonitrile and butadiene monomers.

Both compounds offer distinct advantages, so it’s important to consider a few crucial criteria to see which is better for your parts. These criteria include:

  • Material resistance
  • Temperature requirements
  • Physical durability
  • Overall cost-effectiveness

Material Resistances

The first factor that sets EPDM and Buna-N apart is material resistance. EPDM is surprisingly resistant to many chemicals, such as alkali, mild acidic and oxygenated solvents, steam, and water. Moreover, EPDM is resistant to ozone, heat, and sunlight, making it an excellent option for any general purpose parts and outdoor applications.

One downside of EPDM rubber is that it struggles with gasoline, petroleum oil, grease, and other hydrocarbons. Buna-N is resistant to oil-based hydraulic fluids and liquids that are flame retardant. It can also withstand the effects of fats, animal and vegetable oils, water, great, and air.

Temperature Requirements

Both materials offer a solid operating temperature range and can be used for certain applications with higher temperatures. However, there are some slight differences between the two compounds in terms of temperature resistance.

EPDM provides excellent heat and steam resistance. Parts made with EPDM can perform is temperatures ranging from -60 degrees to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, EPDM offer high stability in both high and low temperatures. Nitrile doesn’t have quite as large of an operating range, but it still performs well in temperatures from -40 degrees to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

Physical Durability

If you need a highly durable compound for your parts, both EPDM and Nitrile are excellent options with good compression set and general toughness.

Whether it's a small rubber part or an entire roof, anything made with EPDM will last long regardless of the weather. This rubber material naturally expands and contracts, which is why it doesn't crack or tear in extreme cold or heat. It's ideal for many exposed parts as long as certain oils or other substances don’t pose problems.

Since Buna-N is resistant to high temperatures or chemical attacks, it's quite a durable rubber material. However, it also offer excellent abrasion resistance and good tear resistance. The downside is that it’s not nearly as suited for outdoor use. If you can shield Nitrile from the effects of weathering, it can also survive for a long time.

Invest in Quality EPDM and Buna-N Parts

At first glance, EPDM and Buna-N may seem like similar rubber materials, but their resistances, temperature requirements, and other qualities set them apart. Of course, it’s still not that easy to figure out the right part solution for your applications.

Fortunately, Timco can help. We partner with businesses to help them invest in customized part solutions that address their specific performance requirements and budget. Whether you need EPDM seals or Nitrile tubing, our experts can help you identify the best material and design the perfect part for your needs.

Are you in need of quality rubber parts? Give us a call at 800-969-6242 or contact us online to talk to one of our experts or get a quote for your project.