"Over the years you have been very helpful when we needed a fast turn around time in expediting an order, or special pricing on special customer orders. Plus you have been very quick to respond, and accept responsibility when there was a problem. "
Purchasing Manager, Coon Rapids, MN

The Magic of Rubber

Rubber of one type or another touches our lives so often it is largely unnoticed. There is probably rubber under you where you sleep and on the nightstand next to you. It is under your feet upon rising and over your head above the ceiling. Rubber is in your bathroom, livingroom, and all over the kitchen. It is most likely in every room and within most of the walls of your home.

There is probably an even greater concentration of rubber at your workplace. There is rubber in your monitor, in and under your computer, and in your computer mouse. More than 200 pounds of rubber make it possible for you to comfortably travel at high speeds in your car, and less than half of that 200 pounds is in the tires. All aircraft from ultra-lights to space shuttles and ships from sailboats to nuclear submarines use rubber for a multitude of critical operations. Take a look around you. Within your view, at least a hundred things consist in part of rubber.

What makes this remarkable substance so valuable?

It's so flexible. Perhaps the way rubber stretches is a metaphor for what man has been doing with his environment, testing the limits and creating new ones. Consider the wonder of a rubber band, stretching to three or four times its original size, then returning with no signs of stress or damage. The rubber band is not only flexible, it's strong.

Generations before the vulcanizing process was accidentally discovered in 1839 by Charles Goodyear, the natives of Brazil slashed the bark of the rubber tree, letting the latex drip onto leaves, where it could be molded by hand into vessels and sheets, impermeable to rain. Rubber is not only flexible and strong, it's leakproof.

In 1888, it was John Dunlop's desire for his son to win a bicycle race in Belfast that caused him to invent the inflatable tire. This was a vast improvement over the solid rubber tire. Tires, fan belts, conveyer belts, bathtub mats, bottoms for shoes and all manner of devices - all share a need to grip another surface. Rubber is the natural choice because it is flexible, strong, leakproof, and has a high coefficient of friction.

The space shuttle's rubber tires must pass from the sub-zero of space through the tremendous heat generated by re-entry and landing. Rubber is used to safely contain the acid in batteries, line corrosive-liquid tanks, and form hoses and valves that contend with fuels and other caustic materials. In all of its uses, rubber is expected to resist destruction. It is flexible, strong, leakproof, has a high coefficient of friction, and is resistant.

Some molds for microscopic computer chips are made of rubber. Rubber forms giant sheets of waterproofing over concrete slabs between floors of some high-rise buildings. It is formed into toy dog bones, action figures, tubes, pucks, gloves, stoppers, rings, balls, balloons, exercise mats and motor mounts. This amazing stuff called rubber is flexible, strong, leakproof, has a high coefficient of friction, is resistant and moldable.

Sponge rubber is lightweight, soft and squeezable. Some sponge rubber soaks up liquids, some is made "closed cell". Rubber bowling balls are dense and hard, with differing degrees of hardness for differing lane conditions. A superball is the epitome of energy efficiency, bouncing almost to the height at which it was dropped. Rubber appears in every color imaginable. It can be bonded to metal, glass, almost any surface. All these characteristics are controlled by varying the type of rubber, additives, and other variables in the manufacturing process. Rubber is flexible, strong, leakproof, has a high coefficient of friction, is resistant, moldable and versatile.

And that's the magic that makes rubber so valuable!

For your amusement and enjoyment you'll find a "ridiculous list of everyday rubber products" here.

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Page Updated by Mike Manero
Copyright(c) ABBA Roller LLC, 1997-2001
Created: 9/14/97 Updated: 7/12/01