Have you ever found yourself wondering just what is gum rubber? Also known as pure gum rubber or simply natural rubber, the product has a far-reaching history full of fun and interesting facts. There are a number of natural rubber company and plantations that grow the trees from which rubber originates from on large plantations. These firms turn the “Para” rubber tree sap into modern day parts. These suppliers contribute to the vast amount of goods that are produced from elastomers, whether they are small parts or large gum rubber sheets.
Where It Comes From: Natural rubber comes from the tree Hevea brasiliensis, also known as the “Para rubber tree” which is located in tropical regions on both hemispheres of the Earth, but primarily in South America, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia. There are a number of other countries that have Para rubber tree plantations, but these countries are by far dominating the production of pure gum rubber. The trees are “wounded,” and the latex that is secreted as a part of the tree’s natural healing process is collected and then processed.
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What is Gum Rubber? Simple Answers for a Simple Question
How It Spread Across the World: Explorers from European countries such as Britain and France conducted expeditions to South America. The trees and the substance that they released were studied and observed by scientists. The seeds of the Para rubber tree were eventually brought to Britain in the year 1876 by an explorer by the name of Henry Wickham; the seeds were subsequently sent to Britain’s Southeast Asian colonies to be cultivated.
Earliest Uses: The product in its natural form was first used as a ball in a Mesoamerican ballgame much like today’s basketball, soccer, and football. The substance was taken from the tree and boiled. Later, the product got its name because it could “rub” away written text, and thus rubber was used to make erasers. Finally, the popularity of elastomers exploded when it was found to be useful to create tires for automobiles.
Properties: As you may well know, rubber is elastic, which makes it the desirable commodity that it is today. This elasticity means it can stretch, absorb force, provide cushioning and is able to protect the human body and machinery alike. Rubber can be vulcanized, a process which involves heating the substance with sulfur in order to strengthen the bonds of the chemical compound, isoprene, which rubber is comprised of. This process would be used in order to create gum rubber sheets.
Processing: A natural rubber company or producer cannot simply take the material straight from the tree and use it to create finished goods. After the latex has been collected from the tree, compounds are added to it through emulsions (mixing of substances which would otherwise not mix), and then, a material of a homogenous state is produced. Other substances can be added to strengthen, color, solidify, and prevent the product from oxidation.
Uses: Of course we know that elastomers are used to create tires, but there are a number of other different uses for rubber that we may or may not have thought of on our own; here are just a few:
- Flooring and matting
- Creating seals and gaskets
- Hoses and ducting products
- Industrial belting
- Protective gloves
- The creation of elastic for clothing and other products
- Anti-vibration mounts and padding
- Flotation equipment and inner tubes
As research continues and technology improves, we will find that the number of uses for rubber will only increase!
Now, when anyone asks you just what is gum rubber, you’ll be able to impress them with your knowledge of the product! You will be able to inform them of the many uses of natural rubber and surprise them when you tell them how many applications it is found in. You will be considered the go-to person amongst your friends and colleagues when they want to know about pure gum rubber or perhaps even purchase gum rubber sheets for use in their home or business. Let them know that there are many natural rubber company, but be sure to recommend to them your preferred choice for all of your rubber products!