The Southbourne Rubber team has been bouncing a bit of rubber trivia around the office! Here are some facts and figures about rubber – where it comes from, what it is used for and how it is helped to save lives here in the UK and abroad.
Natural Rubber to Neoprene Through Time
1770 – Philosopher and historian Joseph Priestley is credited with the discovery of rubber and its name. In 1770, he reported “a substance excellently adapted to the purpose of wiping from paper the mark of black lead pencil” when using a rubbing action – hence the invention of erasers and “rubber”.
1839 – North American inventor Charles Goodyear, who devoted his life to rubber, discovered vulcanisation. This, by heating a mixture of sulphur and rubber, allows for natural rubber to be transformed into usable products.
1876 – British explorer Henry Wickham smuggled around 70,000 rubber seeds out of the Amazon, which – after being cared for at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew – lead to the successful cultivation of rubber trees in the areas we now call Sri Lanka and Malaysia.
1927 – During World War I, Germany made a synthetic rubber but it was too expensive for peacetime use.
1930 – Invented by DuPont scientist Wallace Carothers and originally called Duprene, neoprene [Materials – if we add neoprene] was the first synthetic rubber brought to market.
1933 – Danish-American inventor, with a background in airbrake systems for electric-powered streetcars, invented the o-ring [Products] we know today. The US government considered his invention critical to the war effort and seized the right to his patent, kick-starting the use of o-rings as seals for hydraulic systems for breaks in the aircraft manufacturing industry.
Did you know?...
- 250 million tyres are discarded yearly but recycling the unwanted rubber produces fuel that is comparable to petroleum-based fuels and coal. This makes rubber more eco-friendly than we thought!
- The white fluid inside a dandelion stalk is natural latex, although it is not harvested or used commercially.
- Rubber has been used by humans for more than 3,000 years. Rubber balls found in El Manatí, Mexico, date back to 1600BC.
- As well as being tough and resistant to water, the true success of rubber is its elasticity. It can stretch and then return to its original shape.
- Rubber can be moulded into unique products or pressed to create sheets that work well for many applications.
- Rubber can be used as a seal for things such as car windows, refrigerator doors, and camera lenses. It helps stabilise temperature and prevents the leaking of gases and liquids.
- Today, synthetic rubber accounts for about 60% of the world’s rubber production.
- More than 300,000 tonnes of neoprene are manufactured every year.
- O-rings are tiny but they are big news. In 2017, the global seals and gaskets market was worth $63.2 billion and is on track to reach $84 billion by 2022.
- O-rings save lives. As well as being used in hydraulic rescue tools such as Jaws of Life used to save victims trapped in vehicles following crashes, they are used as medical seals for a wide variety of devices.
- Southbourne Rubber makes customised o-rings in over 8,000 different sizes out of a wide variety of materials.
No matter what your rubber technology or extrusion needs, Southbourne Rubber can design, manufacture and see through your entire project – from start to finish. Call 023 92 255180 or use our online form to send an email.
From state-of-the-art machinery to skilled friendly staff who will deal with you directly for the best possible lead times and outcomes, Southbourne Rubber should be your first port of call for all your industrial rubber moulding needs.