Facts About Rubber Bands

Written by michaelyn erickson
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Facts About Rubber Bands
The worlds' record in 2008 for the largest rubber band ball is held by a Florida resident. (rubber band ball image by Gale Distler from Fotolia.com)

A rubber band, also sometimes known as a binder, elastic band, lackey band, laggy band, lacka band or gumband, is a short length of rubber in the shape of a loop. The uses for these handy elastic holders are endless. The U.K’s Royal Mail Service decided to change the colour of their rubber bands to red in 2004 in an attempt to cut back on lost bands. As of 2006 there were 342 million of these red rubber bands used every year.

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Rubber Tree

The rubber tree first grew in the Amazon rainforest. Christopher Columbus first noticed the native people using the tree sap to make rubber balls. The substance that we harvest from the rubber tree is latex. The tree is tapped, exposing the latex to the air which causes it to harden and become rubbery. Rubber trees only survive in tropical climates. Today most latex tapped from rubber trees comes from plantations in Southeast Asia.

How its Made

There are a series of steps in rubber band making. The ingredients of rubber are mixed together with sulphur, which initiates the vulcanisation process. Vulcanisation is a heating process designed to stabilise and strengthen the rubber so it does not become brittle at cold temperatures. The rubber is heated to 260 degrees C then rolled out like pie dough into sheets. The sheets are made into tubes; the tubes are cut very thin to produce rubber bands.

Stephen Perry Bobstein

Stephen Perry Bobstein is the inventor of the rubber band. Originally he intended it to hold papers together. He was from a rubber manufacturing company called Messers. Perry & Co. in Australia. Bobstein received his patent shortly after his invention on March 17, 1845. Those early rubber bands were made of vulcanised rubber. Today three-quarters of the rubber produced is a synthetic made from crude oil.

Interesting Uses

Wind a rubber band around a leaky hose. They are waterproof and a temporary fix when wound with enough pressure. Put two rubber bands around your car visor. Now you have a place to slip paper or CDs for storage. Secure cling film around dishes. Extend a pant button by winding a rubber band through the buttonhole and securing the ends around your button. Wind rubber bands around glasses and cans for easy gripping.

Largest Band Ball

Joel Waul is a resident of Lauderhill, Florida, and the constructor of the worlds’ largest rubber band ball. It was recognised by Guinness World Records in 2008, after he had spent six years wrapping rubber bands to create the giant ball. It now sits in a Ripley's Believe It or Not! warehouse waiting to be put on display. The ball weighs more than 4082 Kilogram and stands at 6 feet 7 inches.

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