Discovered in the early 1700s, a natural rubber material was presented to the Royal Science Academy of France as a resource of interest. With its origins traceable to the rubber tree grown in South America, rubber emerged globally as a very promising material. The material properties of rubber are unique, especially given that one material could be home to so many useful traits. But, there was little initial knowledge about the material properties of rubber. Interest first sparked when it was discovered that rubber could erase pencil marks off of paper. Shortly thereafter, the name “rubber” was coined—after the rubbing motion done to erase pencil marks. After technology advanced and after more research was conducted on the material properties of rubber, rubber has quickly risen to the top of the global market, an industry involving many elements—from rubber sheeting suppliers to wholesale rubber rolls manufacturers to rubber sheet wholesale. Without this incredible material, many of the products we’ve come to know and love would not exist. Rubber materials have truly taken the world by a storm.
What Are 3 Physical Properties of Rubber?
Three physical properties of rubber are that it’s elastic, that it’s abrasion-resistant, and that it’s soft. As you’ll see though, there are many more material properties of rubber. Classified as an elastomer, natural rubber is primarily composed of the organic compound polyisoprene and of water—with a few other compounds mixed in. With its main content being latex, this soft elastomer has traits that allow for its hyper-elastic qualities. In its natural state, latex is extremely stretchy, flexible, and waterproof. Natural rubber material is extracted from rubber trees by cutting across the body of the tree and tapping the tree’s sap. Surprisingly, latex is found in many plants; it’s a milky fluid found in 10% of all flowering plants. Latex is a multifaceted blend, consisting of proteins, alkaloids, starches, sugars, oils, tannins, resins, and gums that, together, coagulate when exposed to air. Thus, rubber can be molded any kind of shape—such as a rubber circle, rubber discs, or a sheet rubber roll. And by taking these qualities and adding them to a several other compounds, a variety of rubber materials have been created—many of them ubiquitous to everyday life. So, when you ask, “what are 3 physical properties of rubber?” know that there are many more than 3 physical properties that make rubber so great.
What Are the Properties of the Rubber?
Generally, rubber is elastic, water-resistant, and chemical-resistant—among a litany of other things. Part of the appeal of rubber was discovered as individuals began forming new materials using this resource. As the material properties of rubber expanded, so did its usages. Now that you know what are the properties of the rubber, it’s safe to say that rubber’s possible applications are practically limitless.
Scientists deemed the process of forming rubber into different materials as vulcanization. Vulcanization refers to chemically altering rubber to form a material that is more durable. Typically, sulfur is added to the rubber material to increase its strength. But as technology improved—and our understanding of rubber with it—other curatives beside sulfur can be used to vulcanize rubber. Through these sorts of discoveries, many types of rubber products are now available to consumers—ranging from a rubber on a roll that could floor an entire gym, to rubber toys for a child’s playroom. Vulcanizing rubber materials results in a product that is less sticky and has superior properties—these traits are the material properties of rubber that we know so well today. Although rubber’s elasticity is still its defining property, vulcanization has allowed a plethora of traits to emerge. Rubber can now be altered to create a vulcanized rubber sheet that provides resistance against UV radiation, ozone, harsh chemicals, and even high temperatures.
Aside from the unique ability for rubber to form bonds with other compounds and its ability to be vulcanized into different materials, this viable resource gained its global praise for its elasticity. Although some other materials are elastic, too, rubber outshines them because it stores its strain energy thermally. In other words, rubber snaps back to its original shape after it’s been elongated. For applications where a thin piece of sheeting rubber is needed, such as to make drum pads, this quality works extremely well in providing a firm surface that is flexible yet durable. In other cases, rubber’s elasticity is utilized in more common products, such as rubber bands or shoe soles. This elasticity is also the reason for why soft rubber sheets make such good anti-fatigue mats. There are many more uses for rubber’s elasticity, but you get the point: Rubber’s elasticity is the crux of rubber’s usefulness. Without this, rubber wouldn’t be as well-known as it is today.
Which is the Most Useful Property of Rubber?
Of all the material properties of rubber, the most useful property of rubber is its elasticity. But, note that this is a general evaluation—in certain applications, the other material properties of rubber are most useful. Which is the most useful property of rubber simply depends on the task you’re trying to accomplish.
Rubber’s multi-functionality has made it a mainstay material in many of our everyday products. Rubber materials play a large role in our global market. Indeed, the material properties of rubber extend beyond everyday uses; the material properties of rubber are valuable resources to areas such as the science, too. Although you might see rubber sheet goods as the typical form of rubber, know that the usefulness of rubber extends beyond these applications. Without rubber, activities such as driving or flying would likely be impossible—or greatly hindered, at least. There are many things to be thankful for. Right now, take a moment to be thankful for the wondrous material properties of rubber.