Defining Extrusion Manufacturing Terms

There are many key terms in the extrusion manufacturing industry, extrusion and manufacturing being two of them. The terms that we will define here are elastomer, rubber, silicone, and plastic.


(noun) “a natural or synthetic polymer having elastic properties”

– Oxford Languages

Elastomers are materials that regain their original shape and size after the removal of a load or stressor. These materials are able to stretch extensively without breaking and have a wide range of temperature resistance. The term elastomeric is used to describe any material that contains the properties of an elastomer.

Other elastomeric properties vary based on the type but generally involve:

  • Hardness
  • Compression Set
  • Tensile Strength
  • Abrasion Resistance
  • Tear Strength
  • Color
  • Aging
  • Gas Permeability
  • Elongation at Break

To learn more about the specific properties of various elastomeric materials, check out our Elastomeric Material Selection Guide.


(noun) “a tough elastic polymeric substance made from the latex of a tropical plant or synthetically.”

– Oxford Languages

Rubber is an elastic, durable, and waterproof substance created from both natural and synthetic materials.

Natural rubber is created through natural sources. Natural rubber is present within nature through different types of plants, including Hevea Brasiliensis (the “rubber” tree), the Panama rubber tree, rubber figs, and even common dandelions. However, Hevea Brasiliensis has long been the top source of natural rubber, as it is extracted from the tree in the form of latex.

Synthetic rubber is artificially produced through the polymerization of monomers into polymers. Due to this process, there are several different types of synthetic rubber that can be produced.

To learn more about rubber, check out “What Is Rubber?” and “Natural vs. Synthetic Rubber” in our blog. 


(noun) “any of a class of synthetic materials which are polymers with a chemical structure based on chains of alternate silicon and oxygen atoms, with organic groups attached to the silicon atoms.”

– Oxford Languages

Silicone is a product manufactured from silicon, an element found in sand. It has both rubber- and plastic-like properties and can be shaped or formed, softened or hardened into basically anything. Silicone has many benefits including tolerance to low and high temperatures, thermal stability, excellent insulation properties, and resistance to water. It also carries flame-retardant properties and is less prone to deterioration than other materials.

To learn more about silicone, check out “What Is Silicone?” and “Three Types of Silicone Materials” in our blog.


(noun) “a synthetic material made from a wide range of organic polymers such as polyethylene, PVC, nylon, etc., that can be molded into shape while soft and then set into a rigid or slightly elastic form.”

– Oxford Languages

Plastics are a wide range of polymer-based materials that are lightweight, durable, flexible, typically inexpensive to produce, and easily molded, extruded, or pressed into various shapes. There are different types of plastic, categorized by their structure, how they respond to heat, and whether they are naturally or synthetically derived.

Plastic is made through polymerization in chemical plants. Petroleum, natural gas, or crude oil undergo a process called fractional distillation to produce hydrocarbons. The hydrocarbons then undergo polymerization and receive additives for color, stability, and/or additional plasticity. Finally, the material is shaped by injection molding, blow molding, extrusion, or calendaring.

To learn more about plastic, check out “What Is Plastic?” in our blog.


(adj) “denoting substances (especially synthetic resins) that become plastic on heating and harden on cooling, and are able to repeat these processes.”

– Oxford Languages

Thermoplastic materials are plastics that become pliable or moldable when heated and re-solidify when cooled.


(noun) “a compound that softens when initially heated, but hardens permanently once it has cooled”

– Oxford Languages

Thermosets are plastics that have been irreversibly hardened during the manufacturing process. In contrast to thermoplastic materials, thermosets cannot be melted for reshaping.

Custom Extrusion Manufacturer

Since our beginning, we have developed and maintained a solid presence in the custom-manufacturing arena. For over a quarter of a century, we have specialized in quality custom extrusion and molded products in rubber, silicone, flexible plastic, and other elastomeric materials. We have worked hard to become leaders in our industry.

Request a quote on custom extruded or molded products for your application, or contact us to find out what we can do for you.

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