Flexible rubber aerospace solutions

Few manufacturers can boast a legacy of 150 years of continuous trading, but Martin’s Rubber Company can claim just that. For nearly two thirds of their history they’ve worked closely with the aerospace industry, supplying everything from high-specification rubber materials to high-performance seals and cabin interior components that are 25% lighter than normal thanks to their innovative new FRlite silicone material. 

Martin’s Rubber Company has been trading continuously since 1865 but began working with the aerospace industry in the 1930s, during the earliest days of aircraft construction on the south coast of England. The Southampton-based rubber manufacturer has been supplying the industry ever since, devising cutting edge rubber solutions along the way, including components for rockets and satellites.

Martin’s Rubber has forged a sterling reputation within the aerospace industry thanks to their expertise in R&D, design for production, custom builds and rapid manufacture. They also boast extensive in-house processes suitable for a wide variety of products and stockholding of many standard materials and components. 

Over the years, their business has grown through recommendations founded on manufacturing excellence and glowing customer feedback. The ever-expanding range of processes and polymers available has vastly increased the range of possible solutions to any given problem. Martin’s Rubber harnesses the latest technology to develop exemplary aerospace rubber seal products and innovative weight-saving solutions.

Aerospace rubber products

The breadth of Martin Rubber’s product portfolio for aerospace applications ranges from high-specification materials designed for extreme pressure and temperature applications on engines and airframes, through to cabin interior components, like seat armrests, meal trays and footrests. They also turn their hand to ground equipment components, like ground box seals, electrical connectors, protective boots and transit caps. 

Martin’s Rubber works with all tiers of the aerospace supply chain. They are also preferred suppliers for several major aerospace manufacturers, including Augusta Westland. With materials that meet Boeing and Airbus FAR/JAR specifications, novel lightweight composite solutions, and FEA modelling to predict the performance of new rubber and sealing designs, Martin’s Rubber has certainly moved with the times. 

Among the many OEM products that they supply to the aerospace sector are fuel tank gaskets, rubber bellows, tank lid gaskets, coupling bushes, door seal strips, filter gaskets, footrest rubbers, seal kits, adhesives and sealants – to name but a few. However, one of Martin’s Rubber’s key markets is aircraft interiors. They supply moulded caps, bumpstops and grommets for cabin and galley areas, with special focus on seat armrests made from a novel lightweight material and bespoke moulded solutions, from drink tray mats to window blinds.

Innovative aerospace solutions

Speaking of novel lightweight materials, one of the innovative aerospace solutions that Martin’s Rubber has developed in recent times is a new, lighter silicone material, known as FRlite. FRlite is an innovative silicone that uses novel compositions and syntactic technology to reduce part weight by an unprecedented 25%. 

This remarkable material retains the performance levels of existing high-specification fire retardant solid silicones but is light enough to assist the industry’s ever-increasing focus on fuel consumption and weight reduction. FRlite is laboratory tested, with validation to the most relevant industry specifications (CS/JAR/FAR), and is used for the production of seals, grommets, armrests, gaskets, washers, and bespoke rubber mouldings.

Unlike closed cell porous sponge materials, FRlite utilises a self-reinforcing porous structure to reduce the density, without compromising the characteristics of solid rubber. It resists collapse, so load is transferred through the bulk of the elastomeric material. This lightweight material retains the load-deflection and compression characteristics of solid rubber, providing the necessary shape factor for engineering solutions.

Why choose Martin’s Rubber?

From their rubber factory in central Southampton, Martin’s Rubber deals with local, national and international clients on a regular basis. As a small and medium-sized enterprise, they can adjust their schedules and resources to meet the demands of their aerospace customers. Having every stage of the manufacturing line at their fingertips also means that they have complete control over their onsite processes.

The knowledgeable team at Martin’s Rubber use their tried and tested project management skills to work through the design process with their customers. They also provide samples for testing, working with the client to develop finalised solutions that suit their specific needs in terms of colour matching, product design and fitting solutions. They then supply direct to their customers’ production line, according to their demands.

One of the key benefits of working with Martin’s Rubber – aside from more than 150 years of rubber manufacturing expertise, state-of-the-art technology and a skilful team of engineers and support staff –  is that they are extremely responsive. The aerospace industry often works on extremely tight design and build schedules. Martin’s Rubber is agile enough to respond quickly to any design changes and adjustments with ease.