Category: 

What Is Vulcanized Rubber?

Stack of old rubber tires.
New tire.
Ice hockey goalies must stop a small disc of vulcanized rubber called a puck.
Article Details
  • Originally Written By: R. Kayne
  • Revised By: A. Joseph
  • Edited By: L. S. Wynn
  • Last Modified Date: 16 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
The Bloodhound is the only animal whose evidence is admissible in court.  more...

August 22 ,  1902 :  US President Theodore Roosevelt became the first US President to ride in an automobile.  more...

Vulcanized rubber is a natural elastomer that has been made more durable by a biochemical process that cures the rubber. During vulcanization, the milky latex from a rubber tree is combined with a curing ingredient — usually sulfur — and heated under pressure. This process, which was discovered by an American inventor named Charles Goodyear in 1839, made the rubber more stable, tougher and more resistant to heat, which made it more useful for industrial purposes and ideal for certain products. Its name comes from Vulcan, the Roman god of smiths.

Making Rubber Stronger

Before vulcanization was discovered, natural rubber could be coagulated with acid and made malleable so that it could be shaped and formed. At high temperatures, though, the rubber would become sticky or melt. At low temperatures, the rubber would become brittle. These qualities made this type of rubber impractical to use in industrial settings.

Vulcanization chemically combines the rubber and sulfur. At high pressure and high temperatures, the sulfur atoms form links or bridges between long chains of the rubber molecules. This increases the rubber's strength and durability and reduces its stickiness. It also makes the rubber retain its elasticity at a much wider range of temperatures, making vulcanized rubber more useful for many purposes.

Ad

Discovery

Goodyear had experimented with rubber for several years before discovering vulcanization. A former hardware store owner who had no scientific training or knowledge of chemicals, Goodyear suffered financially and went into debt while looking for a way to make rubber more stable and durable. It is often said that his discovery was by accident after a mixture of sulfur and rubber gum splattered onto a hot stove and formed a hardened material. Goodyear, however, claimed that it was not accidental but rather the result of a series of experiments and observations.

He sent samples of his cured rubber to British rubber plants. An Englishman named Thomas Hancock, who had been trying to make weatherproof rubber for 20 years, saw one of the samples and he noticed a telltale yellowish powdery residue — sulfur — on the surface of the sample. Hancock reinvented the process in 1843, four years after Goodyear. Goodyear obtained the United States patent for this process in 1844, but when he applied for the British patent, he found that Hancock had beaten him to it. The term "vulcanized rubber" did not come from Goodyear, but was coined by a friend of Hancock's.

Applications

Vulcanized rubber has come to be used to make a wide variety of products. Among the most common of these are automobile tires, rubber seals and gaskets, transmission belts, shoe soles and hockey pucks. The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, a well-known manufacturer of automobile tires and other rubber products, was named in honor of Charles Goodyear, although there are no family connections.

Ad

Discuss this Article

anon958615
Post 23

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Vulcan is the god of fire including the fire of volcanoes. Vulcan is often depicted with a blacksmith's hammer.

anon939097
Post 22

"Hockey pucks are indeed made of vulcanised rubber and are then frozen so they glide more easily." They get frozen automatically when on ice.

anon926529
Post 21

What else can you use vulcanized rubber for?

anon347879
Post 20

Hockey pucks are indeed made of vulcanised rubber and are then frozen so they glide more easily.

anon268510
Post 15

Aren't hockey pucks made of vulcanized rubber?

msaecdaily
Post 12

Check out the free online course about vulcanized rubber surfaces, at AEC Daily!

anon244986
Post 10

What country was vulcanized rubber made in?

anon116256
Post 6

anon77685-they should name a company after such a "freak" because if it wasn't for him they wouldn't be a company.

anon38161-think of just about anything rubber and that's a use. The soles of shoes, erasers, etc.

anon77685
Post 5

why should they name a tire company after such a freak?

anon38161
Post 4

What are the uses of vulcanised rubber

anon8388
Post 1

hi! i just have 1 question. how do you sulphurize rubber?

Post your comments

Post Anonymously

Login

username
password
forgot password?

Register

username
password
confirm
email