Load-bearing pads are a critical component of railway and construction. Installed between the steel rail and the sleeper in rail systems, load-bearing pads protect the sleeper from wear and damage. They are also essential in construction applications such as precast and prestressed concrete bridges, building and structural steel-bearing applications, machinery equipment foundations, railway tie pads, shock vibration isolation and shock reduction.

For over a century, rubber compounds have been the material of choice for load-bearing pads. Cheap and readily available, soft natural gum rubber was among the first wear materials to be used in bearing pad applications. Today, there are many natural and synthetic rubber compounds used to manufacture load-bearing pads for various industries.

Although rubber compounds have long been the industry standard, they are not without shortcomings. Read on to learn more about the drawbacks of rubber load-bearing pads, and the solutions Iracore has for the railway and construction industries.

Fair-Weather Protection?

Natural and synthetic rubbers are popular wear materials for many reasons. Primarily, their characteristics generally include high resiliency and resistance to high-impact abrasion, making them perfect for handling the railway industry’s demanding requirements.

However, although rubbers are highly resilient in high-impact wear applications, they are prone to ozone and other environmental deterioration. Changes in temperature and long-term exposure to ultraviolet rays and ozone will eventually cause rubbers to “dry out,” lose resiliency, and ultimately fail over time. While some synthetics (neoprenes and butyls) perform better in this regard, most rubbers available today are highly susceptible to deterioration.

While maintenance and replacement cycles can keep an operation moving, an inferior wear material will end up costing operators both time and money in the long term. Repairs and installation of new bearing pads are expensive enough on their own, let alone the lost productivity and working hours involved in that undertaking. Finally, North America’s wildly varying climate and weather put additional strain on rubber wear components, requiring them to require replacement significantly sooner.

Urethane Load-Bearing Pads: A Cost-Effective Solution

As leaders in advancing wear technology for over 60 years, Iracore sought to give operations a cost-effective, value-adding alternative to rubbers. Using our experience developing urethane-based wear materials for heavy industry, we’ve engineered the next generation of load-bearing pads for North American industry’s demands.

Iracore polyurethane compounds have superior abrasion and ground-level ozone resistance compared to rubber, neoprene, and other wear materials. This means less environmental deterioration, allowing urethane to outperform traditional materials and save your operation time and money.

Iracore engineers polyurethane compounds suitable for every application and use case our customers face. Our proprietary formulations are developed through decades of field knowledge to meet rigorous operating conditions, including the railway industry’s unique challenges. All Iracore load-bearing pads are AREMA-approved, exceeding all regulatory requirements and standards. Our pads are also approved by all major North American railway companies, including CN, CPR, and BNSF, making them a superior choice for any North American operation.

Iracore compounds have been proven to stand up to the harshest environments, offering superior load-bearing capabilities compared to other materials, both in the lab and in the field. Our compounds are proven to retain performance and durability at temperatures as low as -40ºF, making them suitable for the harshest North American conditions.

Custom-Engineered Solutions

Iracore’s in-house team of chemists and engineers create custom-engineered bridge load-bearing pads to meet all design needs. No matter what your next project requires, our team can find the right compound and fabricate load-bearing pads to exacting specifications, including custom dimensions, holes for clearing bolts, and other considerations.

Our manufacturing facility is capable of high-volume output, allowing us to support projects of all sizes and scopes. We are committed to our ISO 9001 quality management system, allowing us to deliver top-quality products on-schedule for operations around the world.

Ready to Learn More?

Contact us today to learn more about Iracore’s load-bearing pad solutions.