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shore hardness

What is the Shore A hardness used for?

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The Shore A and D hardness tests are widely used by the rubber industry.  However, I'm not sure what practical use these numbers can be put to during design.  My current feeling is that Shore hardness numbers can at best give you a feel for the texture of the rubber - a Shore A value of 5 = gummy bear texture, Shore A = 40 implies erasure texture etc.

Can someone explain how Shore hardness values can be used in the design of mechanical components made of rubber?

Thanks in advance,

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