Although for most of the world rubber wasn’t something that was used until the 19th Century, it is something that the native people of the Amazon and parts of South America were using for Centuries before the rest of the world was aware of it. The reason for this was the presence in that region of a very special tree.
The rubber tree is native to the Amazon rainforest, and this is the only part of the world where this tree grows naturally. Some seeds were illegally smuggled out of the country and taken to parts of Asia and Indonesia where the climate is also suitable for them, so although there are some trees there now, it is not a place where they occur naturally.
The native people of the Amazon basin realised that the sap from the trees could be turned into a useful material – rubber. They extracted it from the tree using a process called rubber tapping, and they then mixed it with juice taken from vines to make rubber. They realised that by mixing different substances and various quantities they could create different types of rubber that had different properties, and therefore could be used for more things, from footwear to balls!
When this was discovered, it quickly became popular around the world – rubber has many useful properties and became a useful material for a wide array of items. Of course, as science progressed through the 20th Century, new ways of obtaining rubber started to come about, and it is now something that can be man-made, although some rubber does still come from the rubber trees.
Vehicles were a huge factor in this desire for new forms of rubber and new ways of easily obtaining it. Tyres are made from rubber and as more and more people took to the roads in motor vehicles, rubber was becoming something that people needed more of in order to make those all important tyres.
As well as vehicles, rubber is used today in many different ways – modern rubber moulding companies like this www.meadex.co.uk/rubber-moulding/ make a range of things that are essential in our everyday lives – from cookware to heating components, so even though rubber has been used for centuries, it is something that shows no signs of going out of use in the future!