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Introduction to Tire Recycling for Carpets
Scrapped vehicle tires can be recycled and used in the manufacture of numerous floor coverings such as rubber carpets and carpet tiles.
The floor coverings come in many different colors, and are reputedly more stain and wear resistant than the traditional nylon/wool carpets, with the added bonus of being recyclable.
This is another article on the use of recycled vehicle tires, where we examine the floor coverings manufactured from the processed rubber crumb.
We begin with an overview of the tire components and their processing to rubber crumb; the basic ingredient to make the floor coverings.
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Overview of Tire Recycling Process
A typical vehicle tire is made up from the following components:
- 40% Natural and synthetic rubber
- 30% Carbon black
- 15% Reinforcing steel wire
- 15% Fabric, fillers and chemicals
Scrap tires are sent to a specialist recycling center where they are split in two and fed into a shredding machine which cuts them into sizable chunks of rubber. These chunks are then ground to a fine rubber crumb which is passed under magnets to remove the pieces of steel reinforcing wire, before being fed through screens and filters which removes dust and particles of nylon fibers and fluff.
The crumb is then bagged for further processing.
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Processing Floor Coverings from Rubber Crumb
Rubber crumb is delivered from the tire recycling company to the floor covering manufacturer in 2000 lb canvas bags. Here, it undergoes processing into various components used in floor covering manufacture.
- Sheet Rubber in Rolls
Various carpet manufacturers are involved in developing techniques to produce carpets resembling conventional nylon or wool pile carpets from rubber crumb.
However, currently there are only smooth rubber carpets available and examples are shown at the end of this article.
The rubber crumb is processed to produce smooth rubber carpets on rolls. These can have a soft or hard backing, and are usually stuck to the floor using special glue. They can also be laid atop of underlay if increased insulation qualities and resilience is required.
Rubber carpets are slip-resistant and can be used in many applications such as kitchens, bathrooms, entrance ways, offices and hospital wards where durability and non-slip properties are required.
Carpet tiles are also produced from the rubber crumb, in various colors, sizes and in smooth or piled finish, with a slip-resistant rubber also processed from crumb.
These are easily fitted to the floors of any room in the house and have the advantage over carpet in that a single tile can be replaced if damaged, rather than changing a complete carpet.
I have shown some examples of carpet tiles produced from 100% recycled tires in the end section.
- Foam Rubber in Rolls
Foam rubber is also produced in rolls being used to manufacture duracushion (carpet underlay) in various densities to suit different applications. This underlay is superior to the convention synthetic foam rubber underlay, having better insulation and support properties, along with increased compression resistance and durability.
Some rubber components smell like the inside of a tire supply store, but the rubber vulcanization process used in domestic floor coverings to eliminate any hazardous elements also reduce rubber smells.
In the final process, floor coverings are sealed with urethane to promote durability and stain resistance as well ensuring that there are no rubber aromas in the finished product.
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Recycled tires can be used to manufacturer various floor coverings such as rubber carpets, carpet tiles and rubber doormats, using the fine rubber crumb processed from the recycled tires.
This entails producing rubber sheets for rubber carpets, and piled carpet tiles along with foam sheets used for carpet underlay.
Normally an item made from reprocessed rubber exudes a heavy rubber smell. However in floor covering produced from recycled tires this is eradicated by vulcanization and application of urethane during the processing.
At present carpets on rolls with the conventional piles from recycled tires are still being developed.
However, carpets are being produced from recycled plastic beverage and drink containers, so the manufacture of carpets from recycled tires can’t be too far away.