Glass Fibers Embedded In Rubber

Canadian researchers are developing less expensive ways to embed glass fibers in a stretchy elastomer that could one day be used in slip-resistant winter footwear.

The material, which is made up of glass fibers embedded in a compliant rubber, could be used in the soles of slip-resistant winter boots. The researchers describe the manufacturing process in a paper in the journal Applied Physics Letters, from AIP Publishing.

The material looks like regular rubber and will stretch and deform in similar ways, said Rizvi, a postdoctoral fellow at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute who works on developing materials that can provide better traction on ice. The material also performs just as well as regular rubber on dry surfaces such as quarry tile, he added. But on ice the rubber-glass fiber composite provides significantly better traction.

Existing methods for fabricating the material require first extruding a rubber slab with glass fibers running parallel with the surface. The slab is then cut and reoriented so that the fibers stick out of the surface like the pins in a pincushion.

"The materials required for creating a high friction composite are not expensive, but the process of slicing and rearranging the rubber is not easily scalable," Rizvi said. The team has found a way to automate the process so that the material could be cheaply mass-produced.

The team noted that there is further work to be done to improve the wear-resistance of the material. Their testing has shown that the slip-resistant properties of the material fade with use so it would not be appropriate for commercial footwear until its robustness is improved.

Source: aip.orgAdded: 10 July 2015

Tags: materials