In 1887, rubber seeds which grow naturally in Brazil and South America were
shipped to England by a man called Wickham. Two months later, tiny rubber plants
grown from these seeds in London's famous Kew Gardens, were dispatched to Sri
Lanka and Singapore. There, the plants flourished and so not only was wealth and
prosperity brought to Malaysia, for the production of rubber is now Malaysia's
greatest industry; but also the world's rubber manufacturers are able to cope
with the phenomenal demands for rubber in practically every department of life.
Synthetic and man-made rubber, which is now being produced on a a very large
scale is helping to cope with these demands and may possibly in the future usurp
the position of the world's natural rubber.
Today, rubber is indeed man's
versatile servant. It serves you in your home. It is found on your radio and
television, on telephones, electric irons, toasters, coffee percolators and
sewing machines. It is found in the kitchen for the vacuum cleaner and
refrigerator. Where is the house without its electric fan containing rubber or
the desk that does not show an eraser, elastic band or vulcanized fountain pen ?
There are mattresses made of foam rubber and in colder climates, where is the
house without its rubber hot water bottle ? In the garden, rubber has a variety
of uses from hose-pipes to footwear. Rice and biscuits -- these on the
surface, would seem to have nothing to do with rubber. But, it is because of
rubber that the high polish on grains of rice can be obtained. the machine to
polish rice consists of an emery cone and rubber blocks. the rice revolves
between these two and it is the combination between rubber and emery board that
achieves the polished surface. we often eat biscuits with the 'brand' or maker's
name printed on the surface. 'Glaxo' or 'Peakfrean' are examples of this. A
printed metal stamp would be impracticable on the sticky surface of the dough of
which biscuits are made. It would stick ! Therefore, to stamp the biscuits, a
thin sheet of rubber is inserted between the stamp and the dough. thus, the
biscuit is stamped through the rubber rather like a carbon copy of a letter.
Rubber is used to make our raincoats or mackintoshed as they are called after a
Manchester firm 'Machintosh' who, in 1846, bought a patent for vulcanizing
rubber, invented by a man called 'Parkes' in Birmingham. Since Christopher
Columbus first saw natives of Haiti playing games with balls made from the gum
of rubber tree, thousands of different balls from the rubber, beach ball to the
golf ball, have been made out. Further a field from home, rubber is used for
furniture and gymnastic equipment. In the cinema, it is used for projectors and
cinematograph equipment of all kinds. Even down on the farm, it appears in
tractor tyres, milking machines and combine harvesters.
Rubber is used when you travel. Pavements and roads are sometimes made of it,
as are the steps of buses and trams. There would be little comfort in motor
vehicles without the pneumatic tyre first patented by J.B. Dunlop in Belfast,
Ireland in 1888.
Nowadays, with the increasing number of cars, pneumatic tyres take 90% of the
world's rubber. Rubber bearing springs and rubber sealing systems in rake
mechanisms of airplanes, ships and cars add considerably to our comfort.
Rubber is there when illness lands us in hospital. Because it absorbs shock,
it is used for sound proof flooring, tyres on wheel chairs and rubber rollers on
beds and trolleys. Rubber is water-proof