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What Is The Purpose Of Vulcanized Rubber?

The history of vulcanized rubber spans thousands of years, from ancient Latin American civilizations to modern-day tire manufacturing. Along the way, notable figures such as Charles Goodyear and Charles Macintosh aided in its development. Arnaud B. Tibi (Rubber B – CEO) takes you on a fascinating journey through the discovery, manufacture, and use of vulcanized rubber. 

What is Vulcanized Rubber? 

Scientifically speaking, vulcanizing rubber is the process of curing elastomers. In layman’s terms, it means that natural rubber is treated with sulfur or a different type of curative, such as peroxide or a metal oxide, in order to reinforce the rubber and make it more durable than it would be on its own in its naturally occurring state. 

This is accomplished by forming cross-links between sections of a polymer chain, which must be accomplished at a molecular level. This can also be accomplished by treating the rubber with heat as well, in certain instances. 

A Very Brief History of Vulcanized Rubber

Despite the fact that the process sounds scientifically complicated, and it certainly is, there is evidence that some of the earliest civilizations on Earth were using some form of vulcanized rubber in their day-to-day lives. 

The Olmecs, who are one of the earliest civilizations to have lived in what is now Mexico, are believed to have used a type of vulcanized rubber to waterproof their clothes and for ritualized ball games. They accomplished this by combining the boiled sap of the rubber tree with boiled vine sap in order to create a stronger chemical compound. 

In the 1820’s, a Scottish chemist named Charles Macintosh and an English inventor named Thomas Hancock managed to further refine the original Olmec formula by dissolving natural rubber in benzene and subsequently heating it. This would allow for the first mass-produced rubber sheeting (and explains why, if you are from the United Kingdom, how raincoats got that name in the first place.) 

Why Would You Want to Use Vulcanized Rubber? 

If natural rubber has been vulcanized correctly, it retains all of the benefits of natural rubber while losing many of the weaknesses of that material at the molecular level. By chemically reinforcing the rubber with newly crafted polymer chains, the rubber shrinks and becomes harder, which makes it far less susceptible to becoming deformed or damaged. Vulcanized rubber also has increased tensile strength when compared to non-vulcanized rubber as well. 

Vulcanized rubber is highly resilient to wear and tear, does not absorb water easily, has a high resistance to oxidation and abrasions, is an excellent insulator, and is resistant to organic solvents. In short, it is a fantastic choice to use for custom watch straps, because it is durable and doesn’t degrade easily from regular usage. 

Vulcanized rubber is particularly ideal, in terms of watch straps, for anyone who maintains an active lifestyle. This is because it is one of the only materials that is capable of withstanding both human sweat and water and the exertion of movement that a watch undergoes while you are playing sports or undertaking any kind of rigorous physical activity. 

Where Else Would You Encounter Vulcanized Rubber? 

Vulcanized rubber is used in a variety of different products, many of which are extremely common and which you use every day within your home. These can include, but are certainly not limited to, the following: 

  • Children’s toys 
  • Shoe soles 
  • Rubber hoses 
  • Erasers 
  • Insulation
  • Vibration dampers 
  • Rubber-lined tanks
  • Shock absorbers 
  • Conveyor belts 

Where Can You Learn More About Vulcanized Rubber? 

The team at Rubber B recently authored a white paper that goes into more detail about the process of the vulcanization of rubber. It explains how rubber is found in nature and sourced, as well as the chemical bonds that occur in it naturally, and then how those bonds can be reinforced by a variety of different means to make the material stronger. 

If you would like to learn more about this topic, you can simply click How Does Vulcanization Occur And What Are The Properties of Rubber? to read the entire white paper in full. We hope that the article provides an informative, scientific, but brief look at the vulcanization process that will allow the reader to have a greater comprehension of the myriad of ways in which rubber can be reinforced

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