Rubber is an indispensable product to modern society, and the rubber industry has traveled an interesting path throughout history. From being used to make waterproof clothing to creating car tires, rubber has been refined and adapted to suit various uses. While indigenous people living in the South American rainforests have used rubber for generations, rubber extrusion wasn’t widely adopted until the mid-1800s. Here is a brief history of the rubber industry:
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Pre-colonization to Charles Goodyear
Rubber’s exact origin is unknown, but Mesoamericans, specifically the Mayan and Aztec people, discovered and used rubber long before the arrival of European explorers. They extracted latex from rubber trees to make waterproof footwear and balls for games. This craftsmanship paved the way for what we know as modern rubber extrusion. The arrival of European explorers in the Americas helped expose rubber to a broader audience. Later in the 18th century, scientific interest in rubber emerged, setting the stage for future breakthroughs.
While many scientists and artisans were involved in perfecting the production of rubber, one of the most significant developments was made by Charles Goodyear. He discovered vulcanization, a process to transform indigenous rubber into a more durable and elastic material. He discovered this after accidentally dropping a combination of sulfur and rubber on his hot stove. This caused the materials to char while maintaining plastic and elastic properties. The resulting product, vulcanized rubber, was flexible, water-resistant, and durable. Vulcanization made rubber easier to use across multiple applications, preventing it from becoming sticky in hot weather.
19th Century to Today
With the invention of the automobile in the 19th century, there was a need for pneumatic rubber tires. This significantly increased the demand for rubber. The surge in demand spurred innovation and industrial growth for rubber manufacturing. Research intensified following the disruption of World War II, which led to the development of synthetic rubber.
Over time, advancements in technology enhanced the rubber extrusion processes. Modern rubber manufacturers use high-end equipment, technologies, and die-cutting tools to produce profiles, shapes, and forms with varying thicknesses, densities, colors, and textures. Rubber extrusion and injection molding processes have made rubber more versatile, widening its application. Custom extrusion components are regularly used in the automobile, appliance, construction, transportation, and solar industries.
Modern Rubber Extrusion Processes
Advancements in technology have significantly propelled the rubber industry while helping manufacturers deliver high-quality rubber components. Today, rubber belongs to a class of materials with a unique property of high elasticity. Here are some of the most popular rubber extrusion processes used by modern rubber manufacturers:
- Precision die cutting: This process produces parts for appliances, machines, and automobiles. Manufacturers leverage advanced equipment to deliver punch press, rotary, and steel rule die-cutting configurations for various products.
- Rubber injection molding: Injection molding helps produce rubber products with complicated shapes. Rubber manufacturers employ contemporary injection, transfer, and compression molding techniques to create prototypes and large volumes of high-quality rubber components.
- Custom rubber extrusion: These processes incorporate specialized machines, precise temperature control systems, and advanced die designs to produce various sizes and shapes of rubber profiles. Custom extrusion creates rubber gaskets, seals, tubing, weatherstripping, and other components for industrial applications.
Custom Rubber Solutions for Your Industry
Rubber extrusion has played a significant role in the evolution of the rubber industry. Technological advancements allow manufacturers to create diverse, custom products for different industries. As materials like silicone rubber open new avenues for extrusion applications and additive manufacturing gets integrated with extrusion, the future of extrusion holds promising prospects. Today, renowned rubber manufacturers provide customized services, making them a one-stop solution for your industrial rubber part production needs.