Natural Rubber: Overview and History

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Natural Rubber: Overview and History

by Bryan Quintero and JJ Trujillo

WARCO BILTRITE has been a leading manufacturer of natural rubber spanning over 100 years and continues to diversely expand. WARCO BILTRITE proudly executes on its heritage as the premier domestic producer of commercial natural rubber products, as well as specifically engineered products. The focus of this elastomer in the manufacturing industry provides for its elasticity, flexibility and its impermeable characteristic to water. Natural rubber has superior resilience, tensile, elongation, abrasion resistance, low temperature flexibility, compression resilience, and excellent adhesion to fabric and metals. WARCO BILTRITE manufactures a wide range of Natural Rubber products including Style 28, Pure Gum Floating, EZ Cut Non–Floating Gum and Tuff Stuff.

This elastomer can be traced back to 1600 BC with the Olmec civilization located in the city of San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán, just south of the Gulf of Mexico. They would boil the harvested sap and mold balls for their traditional games. The early knowledge that was gained by the Olmecs was later passed down to the ancient Mayans centuries later and would eventually become discovered by other growing countries to be exploited for its versatile characteristics. A French explorer by the name of Charles Marie de La Condamine is credited with introducing samples of rubber, extracted from the Pará rubber tree native to South America, to the French Academy of Sciences in 1736. Rubber received its name from an observation made by Joseph Priestly. He noticed that a sample of the material was good for rubbing off pencil marks on paper, hence the name rubber.

The basis for the focus of natural rubber is important to WARCO BILTRITE due to its extensive use. By definition, Natural Rubber is an elastomer – an elastic hydrocarbon polymer – originally derived from a milky colloidal suspension, or latex, found in the sap of some plants. The natural elastomer used for making rubber bands was originally derived from latex which came from the rubber tree Hevea Brasiliensis. It is planted in very large plantations in tropical countries such as Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. The purified form of this rubber is the chemical polyisoprene, which can also be produced synthetically. It is used extensively in many applications and products, as is synthetic rubber. One method is to have it vulcanized, a process where the rubber is heated with sulfur, peroxide and/or bisphenol to improve the elasticity, resistance and its longevity. The sap from the rubber trees is processed into a wide range of products around the world, although the use of synthetic rubber has resulted in a decline in the natural rubber industry. Rubber products are used across a broad range of applications in both household and industrial processes. Learn more about our AASHTO Unsupported Natural Rubber Bearing Pads.

Natural Rubber will affect the earthquake-bearing market by its ability to act as a semi–intelligent ‘seismic bearing’ characteristic to save buildings. This innovative use of rubber has the potential to spark a renewed interest in the production of rubber. With the bearing pads left in a normal condition, they are stiff enough to hold buildings or anything else that it is supporting still. That being said, it can also isolate vibrations effectively to help reduce the waves outputted by an earthquake. It is much more efficient than a standard foundation due to its elasticity.

Of course, WARCO BILTRITE isn’t the only company in the world that manufactures rubber. The Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries (ANRPC) includes the governments of Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. These 11 countries accounted for about 92 percent of the global production of natural rubber during 2010. About 48 percent of the global demand for natural rubber comes from China, India and Malaysia. All of which are three major natural rubber producing countries within the ANRPC.

WARCO BILTRITE is a domestic manufacturer of Natural Rubber goods including Sheet Rubber, Rubber Mats & Matting, and Extruded and Molded Rubber products.

If you have any specific questions that your would like us to answer, email your questions to sales@warco.com or you may contact us directly at (714) 532-3355