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Urethane: What’s up with this deal?

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

You would think that I would get many more calls and questions in regards with squeegee materials and how the material relates with each other. I think users probably need to be better educated on this topic. I feel the end-user just thinks that there is one squeegee for his or her machine and that’s it. Well, rest assure that there are at least five squeegee materials available. Some function good or average while some are very good while still others are excellent. You want the excellent one, right? Yes, indeed!

So, let me begin with a customer that was using a squeegee for several years before that question arose. This is a small rental house, so these machines could go into a wide range of environments. She has a number of 5680 and 5700 Tennant walk-behind scrubbers. These models are almost identical machines, the 5700 being the heavy duty version of the pair. So when she contacted me for squeegee discussions, I was all ears.

Here’s a quick brief on these two Tennant walk-behind scrubbers. Of course they walk-behind scrubbers with a solution tank capacity of 30 gallons. They are battery machines with a typical run time of 4 to 4.5 hours on a charge. They are listed as scrubbing approximately 30,000 sq.ft/2840 sq.m. per hour. They hold up well even in the toughest of environments, being very versatile.

So the main question came down to: Why do the squeegees last longer during some rentals then others? Wow, what a million dollar question, but there is an answer. I will attempt to give you the scoop why this is. So here we go. There are several different types of rubber materials that make up squeegees.

These are: tan gum, red gum, neoprene and urethane are among the most popular. And, I will tell you that these four squeegee materials will solve any squeegee problem that arises. So, what are some of the squeegee problems?

  1. Wears prematurely for early replacement.
  2. Wears easily and hinders the functionality.
  3. Does not squeegee properly leaving streaks.

The physical compounds that make up these materials has become known as tensile strength. This tensile strength is one of the determining factors whether your squeegee will hold up.

Even though neoprene is a good material that holds up against oils and oil compounds, it lacks the tensile strength to resist tears. It would do well in a truck/auto repair shop where the floors may become oily but not do well in a machine shop where there are steel and steel shavings on the floor. The tensile strength of neoprene is 1000 PSI.

Another good example of a problem is the wiping action of the squeegee. Among the most difficult surfaces are tile and terrazzo floors. The natural choice in this situation is tan gum. It is among the top squeegee to perform an excellent wiping/squeegee action with a low temperature flexibility. The tensile strength for this one is 3400 PSI.

But, when you have a rental business and don’t know what environment the machine is going into with one exception, my recommendation will always be urethane. With a tensile strength of 4500 PSI it is by far the squeegee that has the longest wear factor. The performance traits are such that it does well in chemical, acid, oil and hot water applications. The resilience and performance factors far exceed any other materials the OEM’s may offer. There is simply no substitute for urethane. However with that being said, urethane has one “Achilles heel” and that is low temperatures. This means that it does not perform well in a cold storage facility for example. This is the one drawback for this material. Tan gum or red gum has the advantage in these types of environments. Urethane just does not have the flexibility in cold temperatures and remains too rigid. Of course durometer matters also, but that is another story.

I hope this article is helpful and thanks for reading.

Creamer’s Corner is a monthly conversation with Hi-Gear’s Mike Creamer giving you advise, technical assistance, brand comparisons and on the job stories on repairing, maintaining or replacing your sweeper/scrubber. For your comments or questions, please e-mail Mike at networkeditorial@wcinet.com.