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What's the one thing all automobiles have in common?
They all need tires if they're going to get around. Tires are one of those parts people tend to take for granted, but they're one of the most vital parts of any vehicle. This is where the importance of rubber comes into play in auto manufacturing.

Automotive manufacturing is the driving force of the rubber industry, as about 75 percent of the world's natural rubber production is used to make tires for vehicles

The rubber tire protects the rest of the wheel and its internal parts from wearing down, which can be good for fuel mileage and road safety.

In addition to the all-important tires, parts such as wiper blades, engine mounts, seals, hoses and belts are also made from rubber. As with plastic, it's a very durable, cheap and flexible material that has a wide array of uses in automobiles.
Typical Properties of Common Rubber Compounds
Properties and Uses of Rubber
Aircraft tyres

For Tires

Rubber Boot
Rubber Tires
Rubber Raincoats
Rubber Sponge
Rubber Bowling Ball
Rubber pillows
Rubber electrical insulation
Rubber erasers
Rubber Heels
Rubber Soles
Rubber Shoes
Rubber grommets

Rubber grommets are used to protect or cover through holes. They help eliminate sharp edges so your wires are protected and add aesthetic value to your application.
Suction Cups

Suction Cups are a great product for automatic material handling applications. They come in a variety of sizes, with and without threaded screws or inserts.
Crutch Tips

These standard tips are used for protecting the ends of your products from wear and tear. Used on metal, wood, or fiberglass and designed to fit snuggly and hold in place.
Rubber toys, balls, rafts, elastic bandages, adhesives, paints, hoses, and a multitude of other products.
Most tires contain several kinds of rubber, both natural and synthetic. Radial automobile tires contain a greater percentage of natural rubber than other types of automobile tires because radial tires have flexible sidewalls that tend to produce a buildup of heat, to which natural rubber has a superior resistance.
Tubeless Tyres
How are tyres made?

In order to give you a better understanding of how tyres are made, we have provided a guide to some of the different components that go into making a tyre.

A vehicle's tyres are the main point of contact between the vehicle and the road, they are the only form of grip and ensure the driver's safety. The tyres used should meet the full requirements for the vehicle and should therefore provide great performance, as well as being hard wearing and robust. Good tyre maintenance is essential in order to ensure your vehicle's safety, control and maneuverability.

There are as many as 200 different components that have to be carefully combined to construct a tyre. The rubber compound or the "makeup" of the tyre is designed to grip the road, it can cope with high temperatures caused by friction and should be highly resistant to general wear and tear. The tyre treads are the grooved outer layer of the tyre that come into direct contact with the road surface.

The grooves and sipes upon the tyre are designed to channel water away from the tyres surface in order to maintain maximum grip on the road's surface, even in wet conditions.

Who discovered rubber?
What was the first practical use of rubber?
In England, Joseph Priestley, best known for his discovery of oxygen, noted that pencil marks could be "rubbed out" by the substance. From this early use, rubber derived its name.

What discovery marked the beginning of modern rubber technology?
Prior to 1839, the properties of rubber were dictated by the surrounding temperature. During the hot summer, rubber was sticky and malleable, while it became hard and brittle in the colder months. This was finally remedied by the discovery of the process of vulcanization. A mixture of rubber, white lead and sulphur was dropped accidentally upon a hot stove. When it was removed, the material was no longer affected by temperature. Despite stretching, it always returned to its original shape. This process of vulcanization made it possible to use rubber in raincoats, overshoes, and eventually many other products, including tires.

What are the two types of rubber?
The two types of rubber in common use today are natural and synthetic. Natural rubber comes from the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis). When a tree matures at the age of six or seven years, the latex is collected from a diagonal incision in the tree trunk. The tapping process does not affect the health of the tree and the tree wound later heals itself. Synthetic rubber is made by man from petrochemical feedstocks. Crude oil is the principal raw material.

Where is natural rubber produced?
Today more than 90% of the natural rubber supply comes from Southeast Asia. As rubber trees require a hot, damp climate, they grow only in the "Rubber Belt," an equatorial zone that stretches around the world. In 1876, the English, in recognition of the difficulties of securing quality rubber from the jungle, hit upon the idea of growing rubber on plantations. From their efforts, the cultivated rubber tree plantations of Southeast Asia and Africa have developed.

What accelerated the development of synthetic rubber?
The United States was cut off from virtually all of its sources of natural rubber in the Pacific during World War II. In order to meet the nation's needs for this vital material, the government built synthetic rubber plants and the industry operated them. Synthetic rubber production jumped from 8,000 tons in 1941 to 820,000 tons in 1945. After the war, the government sold the plants to the industry.

How is synthetic rubber produced?
General purpose synthetic rubber has its origin in two gases: butadiene, a by-product of petroleum refining, and styrene, captured either in the coking process or as a petroleum refining by-product. When the two are mixed in the presence of soapsuds in a reactor, liquid latex results. The dry rubber in this milky liquid is then coagulated into crumbs, washed, dried, and baled ready for shipment.

Does the industry utilize more natural or synthetic rubber in its manufacturing process?
Approximately 70% of all rubber used is synthetic.

How many chemical types of rubber are there?
There is only one chemical type of natural rubber. However, there are approximately twenty different chemical types of synthetic rubber, and within each type there are many distinguishable grades. The different types of rubber, each with its own properties and advantages, allow industry to choose the rubber that most clearly meets the demands of an intended use.

How much oil is required to produce a tire?
Approximately seven gallons. Five gallons are used as feedstock (from which the substances that combine to form synthetic rubber are derived), while two gallons supply the energy necessary for the manufacturing process.

How Rubber Works