The discovery of rubber has led to an incredible amount of research, consumption and manufacturing of it. Rubber is one of the most amazing natural products that possess the property of elasticity i.e. it can stretch and return to its original shape after manipulation. Rubber can be recycled and is eco-friendly. With new developments in technology and creative ideas of scientists, rubber has many advanced applications and has surpassed its simple uses of decades ago. Today many rubber companies manufacture natural and synthetic rubber moldings and components associated with raw materials for electronic, military, commercial and aerospace applications.
Here are some of the amazing facts about rubber you may not have heard of:
- The origin of natural rubber lies in South America. It is produced by a tree called Hevea Brasiliensis that belongs to Euphorbia family. This tree has a height of 15-30 meters with a trunk diameter of up to one metre.
- Olmecs were the first to use rubber, they used to boil the latex coming out from the tree and prepare balls for their games which are similar to today’s basketballs and footballs.
- In olden days, rubber tyres used to be white in colour because of the white colour of natural rubber. In the early 1900s, it was found that adding carbon black during manufacturing of rubber created beneficial qualities for tyre rubber.
- Today, rubber is produced in high quantities by Southeast Asian countries.
- Sulfur is added to rubber to strengthen the bonds between the individual molecules of the polymer. This helps to strengthen the material thus making it resistant to water and abrasion. Many rubber industries utilise this process in rubber manufacturing.
- The first rubber factory was established in Paris in 1803. The company initially produced suspenders and garters.
- The first synthetic rubber for tyres was made from the combination of styrene and butadiene at I.G. Farben in the Soviet Union.
- Rubber can be molded into many unique products like Rubber O Rings, gaskets, and other rubber components. It can also be pressed to create sheets that are used in many applications.
- Prior to World War II, German scientists invented a synthetic substitution named as Buna rubber that was used when the import of natural rubber from East Indies was cut off. Today, about 60% of world’s rubber production constitutes synthetic rubber.
- The rubber tree plant is non-toxic to humans but can be toxic to dogs!