Rubber exists in our everyday lives. Products include gloves, tires, pads, and bands. But how do these products reach our homes? To make rubber, things such as a rubber mixer, acid, and even a tree are needed. Here’s an easy-to-understand, step-by-step rundown of how some of these items are ultimately made.
- Natural rubber, in fact, comes as sap from a rubber tree. These trees naturally grow in the Amazon rainforest, but today there are rubber tree plantations across the world. Synthetic rubber is made from an elastomer or a polymer that has the same elasticity and flexibility as natural rubber.
- To convert the raw rubber into something workable for something such as a tire, a factory will mix acids and other chemicals with the rubber liquid to cause it to solidify. Alternatively, a rubber mixer mixes rubber with other ingredients to create appropriate compounds.
- After hardening the rubber into a form that we’re more familiar with, the way different products are manufactured begins to diverge. For example, as shown an INSIDER video, rubber bands are made by creating hollow cylinders, making them into moistened tubes, and carving them into a uniform width which is often 1.5 millimeters. Molds and casts are typically used to make rubber gloves and other oddly-shaped items. According to Michelin, a premier tire supplier, over 200 ingredients go into an average rubber tire, which consists of many differently-shaped parts such as liners, plies, beads, and sidewalls.
- The company checks the product for quality and ships it to the store near you, where it finally reaches your home.
Rubber has been around since the rubber tree’s existence but only came into commercial use in the eighteenth century. Learning the history of simple, day-to-day products and how they are made helps us to learn not to take things for granted!