Import VS. Domestic. The age-old dilemma.

Monday, December 2 - 2019

With more and more availability of imported products, our team at American Biltrite is often faced with the question: When to choose imported rubber sheet and when to stick to domestic? This question usually raises more questions:

  • Is this a critical application?
  • Does the application call for a certain % of the polymer when a blend is being specified?
  • Does the application have a specific ASTM callout?
  • Are any special certifications needed for safety? Examples: Food Grade (FDA), NSF/ANSI Standard 61 for potable water, AASHTO grade for highway and bridge construction, Military Specification Grade, MSHA, etc.
  • With the limited information provided on the technical datasheet, are you confident that all specifications of your end-user will be met? Ex: tensile, elongation, temperature range, ozone resistance, abrasion resistance, oil resistance, compression set, pressure rating, etc.

How you answer these questions should lead you to the product that is ideal for your application. The crucial point is understanding the application and the rubber’s role within. Asking questions and ideally obtaining the required specification is imperative. Without this information, products can be selected in error with devastating effects both to the project and to your company’s reputation. Gathering the data prior to product selection is a step that can never be emphasized enough.

This is NOT to say that imported rubber sheet has no place in the market. Imported sheet is a good economical solution. It certainly has a place in our product offering. Our imported sheet rolls are very consistent in their physical properties as well as the format. Gauge tolerances are commercial sheet rubber standards, full rolls, one-piece, and always the same length.

To determine if an imported option is best, ask yourself; is this application low pressure or less critical? In other words, when it wears can it be easily replaced hence remaining a low-cost solution with very little risk? Some good examples:

  • Thin gauge pipe wrapping
  • Thick gauge pads for equipment
  • General gasketing
  • Industrial drop sheets for protection, for example in paint shops
  • Skirtboard

Where you source your imported sheet rubber from is a vital decision for your company. Are you procuring from an importer or an imposter? Unfortunately, some rogue importers supply bogus technical specification data. A regrettable and unsuccessful ploy that we have seen for years in the market. Fortunately, since we have never participated in this derision, it has encouraged customers to come to us for consistent products that meet the specifications that we promise.

When it comes to your company’s reputation, what you supply is what you endorse. At American Biltrite, all of our suppliers go through a rigorous qualification process. The first step of this process is a plant tour by our team including at least one member of senior management. We only import from sources after the completed supplier evaluation process. We receive samples from randomly selected production runs for testing here in our lab as part of our ongoing audit processes.

Are you buying rubber sheeting or rubber cheating? Don’t trouble yourself. Your peace of mind is our priority here at American Biltrite.

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