- What is rubber?
- Where produced? How prepared?
- Some of the uses?
- The coming of synthetic rubber.
Rubber is one of the products of tropical forests. It is the dried juice or latex of a certain tree or plant, and this rubber plants sympared?” rubber continue to yield this juice year after year. Some times the workers collect them from plants growing naturally in the jungle.
With his axe, the searcher makes a number of gashes in the bark of the tree. Beneath each cut a cup is fixed to catch the juice that slolwy oozes out. But he does not wait until the cups are filled with the milky juice. He passes on in search of other trees, which he treats in a similar manner.
The “tapped” trees are visited at intervals, in order that the contents of the cups may be emptied into the large cans carried for the purpose. From time to time, other gashes are made in the trees at varying heights, and the rubber-juice is dully collected. The liquid rubber is conveyed to the camp or depot, where it is converted into solid raw rubber by being dried slowly over a “low” fire.
Until comparatively recent times, the world’s supply of raw rubber was obtained form the trees and creepers that grow wild in the Amazon basin. This was the famous Para rubber of Brazil. At a later date, “wild” rubber trees in the Congo basin of Africa were tapped in a similar manner. But an important change was pendng. It became evident that the rubber industry was a profitable undertaking. Steps were taken, therefore, to establish rubber plantations where the work could be carried on under more favourable conditions.
In Brazil and in Africa rubber plantations began to flourish, and the annual output increased enormously. But Para rubber continued to rank first for quality.
Originally the rubber of Malaya was poor in quality, but seeds and young trees from the Amazon were imported. They flourished, and now Malaya supplies the bulk of the world’s rubber, and it is of fine quality. But the scientists of Europe and America have now discovered how to make artificial or “synthetic” rubber in their factories, and this is, to some extent, affecting the demand for the natural material. But it is not cheaper than real rubber, nor is it so good for certain purpose.