“How Is It Made?” you ask. Here’s How It’s Made – today, rubber bands!

 

I simply find it hard to believe how labor intensive this production line is.  I might actually avoid purchasing rubber bands from now on.  Do you use them and if so what for?  I wonder how many tonnes of talcum powder they use in this factory.  Wow.

Here you can see a video of how rubber is actually collected from the tree (its a very slow process – you can see that the ants are moving faster than the rubber is dripping.)    This film was produced by www.wildfilmsindia.com

History of Rubber as we know it…

“In 1736 several rolled sheets of rubber were sent to France where it fascinated those who saw it. In 1791, an Englishman named Samuel Peal discovered a means of waterproofing cloth by mixing rubber with turpentine, that must have smelt disgusting.

English inventor and scientist, Joseph Priestly, got his hands on some rubber and realized it could be used to erase pencil marks on sheets of paper.

Thomas Hancock another English inventor founded the British rubber industry. He invented the masticator, a machine that shredded rubber scraps, allowing rubber to be recycled after being formed into blocks or rolled into sheets. In 1820, Hancock patented elastic fastenings for gloves, suspenders, shoes and stockings. In the process of creating the first elastic fabrics, Hancock found himself wasting considerable rubber. He invented the masticator to help conserve rubber. The first masticator was a wooden machine that used a hollow cylinder studded with teeth – inside the cylinder was a studded core that was hand cranked. In 1821, Hancock joined forces with the Scottish chemist and inventor of waterproof fabrics, Charles Macintosh.
Together they produced Macintosh coats, or Mackintoshes, named after Charles Macintosh!”  See what you are learning about?  Fascinating – start off with rubber bands and end up learning about Mr Charles Macintosh.
Charles Macintosh inventor of waterproof fabric

Charles Macintosh inventor of waterproof fabric

 

In 1823, Charles Macintosh patented a method for making waterproof garments by using rubber dissolved in coal-tar naphtha for cementing two pieces of cloth together. While he was trying to find uses for the waste products of gasworks, Macintosh discovered that coal-tar naphtha dissolved India rubber. He took wool cloth and painted one side with the dissolved rubber preparation and placed another layer of wool cloth on top.

By Purves, M., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17975818

In the pre-Goodyear and pre-vulcanization age of rubber age, the masticated rubber that Hancock invented was also used for pneumatic cushions, mattresses, pillows and bellows, hose, tubing, solid tires, shoes, packing and springs. It was used everywhere.

Hancock became the largest manufacturer of rubber goods in the world. The wooden masticator turned into a steam-driven metal machine and this is what was used to supply the Macintosh factory with masticated rubber.

This created the first practical waterproof fabric, but the fabric was not perfect. It was easy to puncture when it was seamed, the natural oil in wool caused the rubber cement to deteriorate. In cold weather the fabric became stiffer and in hot weather the fabric became sticky.
When vulcanized rubber was invented in 1839, Macintosh’s fabrics improved since the new rubber could withstand temperature changes..

Image of Charles Goodyear

Charles Goodyear, an American whose name graces the tires under millions of automobiles, is credited with the modern form of rubber.

Before 1839, rubber was subject to the conditions of the weather. If the weather was hot and sticky, so was the rubber. In cold weather it became brittle and hard.

Goodyear’s recipe, a process known as vulcanization, was discovered when a mixture of rubber, lead and sulfur were accidentally dropped onto a hot stove. The result was a substance that wasn’t affected by weather, and which would snap back to its original form if stretched. The process was refined and the uses for rubber materials increased as well. Interestingly, Goodyear developed this recipe while in jail for bankruptcy,

debyclark.blogspot.com

his name was given to the company after his death.

This new rubber was resistant to water and chemical interactions and did not conduct electricity, so it was suited for a variety of products. The process of making the rubber product improved as time went by, and now various chemicals are added before the mix is poured into molds, heated and cured under pressure.

On March 17, 1845, Stephen Perry of the rubber manufacturing company Messers Perry and Co, Rubber Co Manuf London patented the first rubber bands made of vulcanized rubber.   Perry invented the rubber band to hold papers or envelopes together.

Vulcanized rubber came about as a result of an accident.

I’ve copied this fascinating article from Antoon’s website.  Charles Goodyear’s recipe, a process known as vulcanization, was discovered when a mixture of rubber, lead and sulfur were accidentally dropped onto a hot stove.

The result was a substance that wasn’t affected by weather, and which would snap back to its original form if stretched. The process was refined and the uses for rubber materials increased as well.

This new rubber was resistant to water and chemical interactions and did not conduct electricity, so it was suited for a variety of products. The process of making the rubber product improved as time went by, and now various chemicals are added before the mix is poured into molds, heated and cured under pressure.

Rubber Bands today:

At the present time Antoon Versteegde uses the same kind of rubber bands to fasten the bamboo poles in his transient constructions.  His creative pursuits are astonishing.  I’ll link to his website again here.

Recently there was an article in The Archi Blog about him.

 

Can you believe this structure is built with bamboo and rubber bands!
Antoon Versteegde calls himself a “bamboo artist” and he mainly seeks his artistic freedom outside established institutes and exhibition spaces, in public locations with free access for everyone.
He conceives life-sized constructions, which he designs as transient outdoor installations that he constructs with lightweight materials such as bamboo, flags, rope and rubber bands.  For more information about Anton and his use of rubber bands and bamboo click here.

Rubber Bands and curious facts:

Generally, rubber bands are numbered from smallest to largest, width first. Thus, rubber bands numbered 8–19 are all 1/16 inch wide, with lengths going from 7/8 inch to 3​12 inches. Rubber band numbers 30–35 are for width of 1/8 inch, going again from shorter to longer.  I find this fact quite confusing.

At Officeworks, they are sold by weight – you can buy 100grams of rubber bands for about AU$4.00.  Considering all the work that goes into making them, I think this is a bargain.  What do you think?

What would you like to learn about with me in the future?

jenie

 

 

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