Who Invented Rubber And How?

Rubber is extensively used in our lives today. Have you ever wondered how the world would have been if there was no rubber. Have you ever wondered who invented rubber and how. This will perhaps help you to appreciate the value of rubber even more. This is not only the story of an invention but one of determination, struggle and success after all the hardships, a typical motivational story

Who was Charles Goodyear

Charles Goodyear was born in 1800 in New Haven. He had six siblings and his father’s name was Amasa Goodyear. Charles Goodyear learnt hardware business and when he was only twenty one, he entered his dad’s business. Their business was into manufacture of ivory and metal buttons as well as agricultural implements.

Charles Goodyear was married in 1824 to a lady named named Clarissa Beecher. After two years of marriage Charles Goodyear moved to Philadelphia where he opened his own hardware business. He was however known for the agricultural implements that the firm was making. Charles Goodyear was successful in his business but as time moved on, the health of Charles Goodyear started to suffer. He was diagnosed with dyspepsia. Because of his health most of his business failed. He became a poor man and especially 1829 – 1830 was a very bad time as he had to really struggle.

Gum Elastic 

When the business was suffering losses Charles Goodyear heard about the gum elastic. He read the newspaper and tried to closely understand all those materials that were made of the gum elastic. The Roxbury Rubber Company at that time was well known for the gum elastic. They believed that they could be able manufacture anything from the gum elastic. Charles Goodyear went to New York where he spotted some life preservers. He saw that these tubes were not good enough. He got back to Philadelphia and started to work on the tubes.

Continued Experiments Despite Finances

What he came up with was much better. He visited the Roxbury Rubber Company and showed the new tube. The owner of the company was impressed but he told Charles Goodyear that the business was soon going to collapse. This was mainly because the goods that they made failed to impress the clients. A lot of quality issues were also coming up in these products. The gum was sticky and it would get rotten very easily. Charles Goodyear decided that he will find a way out and design a better rubber. On returning to Philadelphia Charles Goodyear was arrested as he was not paying the loan and was in debt. Sitting in the jail Charles Goodyear would do the experiments that changed the concept of rubber.

Charles Goodyear did his experiments with India rubber as this rubber was not very expensive. He heated it and used his hands to shape it. He also mixed a little magnesia into the elastic gum. The result was a white substance that was not sticky at all. Charles Goodyear knew that he discovered the solution and it will definitely make elastic rubber more effective. After Charles Goodyear was free from jail he went on to continue his experiments in his house. The first item of rubber that he made was a shoe. He was helped by his family and friends. His creditors were not pleased with these experiments and wanted the money back. Charles Goodyear sold his house and furniture paid all the debts and sent his family to a quite village. He went to New York where he continued his experiments.

He continued experimenting with the India rubber. He tried to also use quicklime and water to improve the quality of the India rubber. Charles Goodyear realised that the process was good enough. He wanted to tell the world about his discovery. However, one day he saw that acid falling on to the rubber tube can make it soft again. He knew that acid will be present in any industry and so he needs to work more on this concept.

Softening Issues of Rubber

His experiments went on. He finally realised that rubber is dipped in nitric acid can ensure that it will not get soft no matter what happens. These experiments made Charles Goodyear sicker. He got into partnership with an old man and he started a factory. He started to manufacture rubber products. These were very successful. As the threat of 1837 came up Charles Goodyear became penniless. He went to Boston and with the help of the owner of Roxbury Rubber Company they started to manufacture rubber products.

It was here that Charles Goodyear was able to find new ways of making rubber and the products he made were becoming immensely popular. In 1838 Charles Goodyear came up with the concept of vulcanised rubber. In 1860 Charles Goodyear died after he was told of his daughter’s death. He was a great inventor who lived a life of challenges.

During his life he did not get the fame that was given to him later. In 1898 Goodyear tyre and rubber company was started. Whenever there is mention of rubber today the name of Charles Goodyear cannot be left unmentioned. He is among the six people who are named in the National inventors’ hall of fame. The ACS rubber division has introduced a Charles Goodyear medal for those who make contribution in the field of rubber.

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