Since World War II, rubber has found its way into an innumerable amount of industries, for an even greater amount of applications. While rubber was originally desired primarily as a substance from which to make tires, it was quickly seen that there were more uses for it than on automobiles. With physical properties such as elasticity, resistance to abrasion and high tensile strength, as well as the ability to perform under harsh conditions, rubber has become a desired commodity in a number of different fields. Whether it is to create large sheets of rubber or small rubber parts, the potential uses of elastomer/rubber products are nearly endless, given the amount of technology and research that is being invested into the field. One would be surprised at the places in which they could find some form of quality rubber products—black rubber is even making its way into the fuel and energy industry! Who would have thought that a material which was originally used as a ball for an ancient Mesoamerican ball game would have evolved into a product with dozens upon dozens of uses, most of which are an integral part of our daily lives! While the following list is nowhere near what it could be, it will still be a helpful first-look into all the uses of rubber that are quickly coming into the fold of industries.
Tires, obviously! Over 20 million tires are produced every year. This accounts for 56% of all rubber production. This is perhaps the oldest and most important use for black rubber. This is where good old black “rubber meets the road!”
Elastic in tight-fitting garments such as wetsuits, swimsuits, and cycling shorts. Elastic is rubber in its fiber form
Hydro-blasting to remove coating (such as paints and other forms of elastomers)
Repairs in the form of epoxy
Spray-able protective coatings
Rubber flooring, perhaps the first among quality rubber products for use in gyms, kitchens, and basements.
Rubber mats and matting to protect any floor or walkway, as well as the person who treads those paths
Gaskets and seals, some of the most useful of all small rubber parts
Flexible hose and ducting products
Anti-vibrations pads and mounts in vehicles; also works well as sound-proofing material
Safety airbags in cars to protect you and your loved ones from those unfortunate automobile accidents
Rubber gloves! Stay sanitary and safe in the lab or hospital, or even when cleaning!
Belt skirts, belt scrapers, filter scrapers
Lining and patching for bins, launder chutes, ducts, and mixer lining
Cement and asphalt; rubber is now being incorporated into these mixtures to create sidewalks and streets that are better to walk on!
Railroad cross-ties to help with the transportation of freight that still takes place on our railroads
Cross-over pads for vehicles to protect electrical wires during construction projects
Rollers for transport (for items such as paper)
There are uses of elastomer/rubber in a number of industries. You can find quality rubber products in agriculture, construction, mineral processing, paper processing, and in transportation, to name a few. Both large and small rubber parts are being seen in the military and aerospace industries, in the production of petroleum-based fuels, in producing energy, in chemical research and experimentation, as well as in other commercial and industrial locations. The list of potential uses for black rubber will only be expanding in the coming years, given the amount of research that is being devoted to it and the technologies that are now being produced from it. This research and development is an investment into our futures and the future of our planet, so do not be surprised when you find more and more of the items you use everyday to be made from rubber!