Welcome to the wonderful world of polymers! At Rubber Band University you will learn everything there is to know about our favorite invention – the glorious Rubber Band. From rubber band sizes to the history of rubber – you’ll find it all here. Click an icon below to get started on your journey.
HOW ARE RUBBER BANDS MADE?
Rubber is received by Alliance in 75-pound blocks. It is machine cut into small pieces and mixed in a Banbury mixer with other ingredients that are needed to cure the rubber. Pigments for color and other chemicals are added to increase or diminish the elasticity of the resulting rubber bands.
The rubber is then milled and cut into strips. The strips are fed into an extruding machine which forces the rubber out in long hollow tubes. Many overseas competitors use different processes such as dipping and steam curing.
HOW WAS RUBBER DISCOVERED?
Mesoamerica refers to the region in central and southern Mexico and on into Guatemala in Central America where advanced native civilizations such as the Olmec people (followed by the Mayans and Aztec) thrived.
The Olmec people would collect the neat, milky-white sap they collected from the Hevea trees indigenous to their area, mix it with the juices from morning glory vines, and work it into balls to create an old age version of the kick ball.
This is the first archaeological evidence of the beginnings of rubber.
Time marches on and the Mayans continue to enjoy kickball as the Olmec people did. The Aztec people then take a huge leap forward by varying the ingredient proportions of latex to morning glory vine juices to create different strengths in the resulting product. They then used this surprisingly sturdy stuff to create leakproof containers and, by adding it to fibers, created waterproof clothing.
They used it to make sandals, jewelry and, of course, continued with the ever popular "gooey stuff" balls.
Remember, the word "rubber" doesn't exist yet.
The Spanish conquistadors (under the leadership of Hernan Cortes) overthrew the Aztecs in 1521. The spoils they brought home included the gold they were after but also included the substance that later would become known as rubber.
In Europe (around 1770), Joseph Priestley observed that the material was extremely good at rubbing off pencil marks on paper and it became known as "rubber."
This was an era of expansion and trade and rubber slowly made its way east.
Synthetic rubber is a complex chemical compound that is created by refining oil, coal or other hydrocarbons into naphtha. The naphtha, a flammable liquid hydrocarbon mixture, is then combined with natural gas to produce monomers. Synthetic rubber (Polyisoprene) is petroleum-based and lends itself to brighter colors and better adhesion of ink for printed bands . Synthetic rubber is also classified as “non-latex” making it a solution for the 3-5% of the world population who are affected by latex allergy reactions.
Want to learn more about Non-Latex® Products for the Healthcare Industry?
ARE THERE OTHER TYPES OF RUBBER COMPOUNDS?
COMMON RUBBER BAND TERMINOLOGY
Ratio of stress to strain. Also expressed as the tensile strength at a given percentage of elongation.
The extension or “stretch” of a rubber band.
Whether a band can withstand normal strain.
The ability of a rubber band to return to its original shape after being stretched.
This term is used to describe the length of time a rubber band can be used over a period of time without breaking.
The number of bands in a pound.
You have made it through our first section on Rubber Band Basics!
In the next section, you will learn about the different manufacturing processes of rubber bands, the different grades of rubber, and gain a better understanding of count per pound.
Click the button below to begin!