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Rubber

At this time of year, people living in northern regions all over the world are faced with the same problem: icy sidewalks. Boots with otherwise grippy soles still slip, and spikes don't do well on stretches where there is no ice. Researchers from the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and the University of Toronto are developing what could be a better alternative, however – rubber soles with bits of glass embedded in them. Read More
Graphene is a cutting-edge wonder material, used in applications ranging from solar cells to supercapacitors. Rubber bands, on the other hand ... well, they're not so high-tech. By combining the one with the other, however, scientists have created ultra-cheap body motion sensors that could make a big difference in the field of health care. Read More
Most 3D-printed objects are made out of rigid plastic or resin materials that aren't necessarily ideal for every project. Now, for a limited time online shops like i.materialise are offering designers the chance to play with experimental materials that have properties akin to rubber. Currently these materials are only being offered on a limited basis, but they're already paving the way for new ideas, including one haute couture dress that paraded down the catwalk at Spring Fashion Week 2013 earlier this year. Read More

Project Piola is combining the ethos of fair trade and the French design flair to create shoes with organic rubber and cotton from Peru. Read More

Looking for a more effective solution to the all-too-common wobbly table dilemma than a folded up bit of cardboard or piece of rubber under the leg, University of Virginia physicist Lou Bloomfield created a new type of silicone rubber called Vistik – it's malleable enough to take on any shape when pressed, but is still resilient enough to offer support, as it gradually starts to return to its original shape as the pressure is released. The material could have many applications ... beyond just steadying up wobbly tables. Read More
It's reckoned that most of the 22 million tons of rubber that is processed every year worldwide goes into making vehicle tires and that once rubber products reach the end of their useful lives, for the most part they end up being incinerated. Even when the rubber residues are reclaimed and re-used to make new products, the lack of techniques for producing high-quality materials means that the recyclables are relegated to secondary products such as arena or playground floor coverings or padded doormats. Looking for new ways to optimize the recycling of rubber waste, researchers have developed a material called EPMT that has the desired material properties and characteristics for use in the manufacture of high quality products such as wheel and splashguard covers, handles, knobs and steerable casters. Read More

It’s good for the environment when manufacturers can find ways of using less fossil fuels, while consumers – along with the environment – benefit when products last longer. Now, thanks to the humble soybean, both parties may be able to get what they need. Researchers from the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company have discovered that soybean oil can help reduce the amount of petroleum used in tires, while also extending those tires’ tread life. Read More

A new generation of environmentally-friendly tires has been launched in Europe. Dutch tire company Apollo Vredestein has produced prototypes of tires manufactured using natural rubber made from guayule and Russian dandelion, the latter also the subject of research being carried out by Bridgestone. The prototypes will now move on to an intensive testing phase before they get to the production phase. The hope is to create an alternative to Asia's rubber monopoly, where the world’s main source of latex, Hevea brasiliensis, mostly comes from. Read More
Taraxacum officinale, or dandelion, the herb used for tea and salads, is an excellent liver tonic and diuretic. But there’s another variety of dandelion known as Russian dandelion, aka Taraxacum kok-saghyz, which Bridgestone Americas is researching as raw material to make high-quality rubber for car tires. After preliminary tests, the company said it will continue to assess the material at its technical laboratories in Akron and Tokyo in coming months, and will follow that with larger-scale testing in 2014. Read More
Over the past few years an unlikely material has found its way into wetsuits: limestone. One would think that using rock to create rubber might cause a wearer to sink, but the porous yet closely-packed cells found in a limestone-based rubber is said to make the wearer more buoyant. De Soto Sports, a San Diego-based company that makes clothing and gear for triathlons, developed its own brand of limestone-based rubber, GreenGoma, to use in its wetsuits. Starting with the 2012 line, which first hit stores this past fall, all of the company's T1 wetsuits are made with GreenGoma, which eliminates the use of petroleum products in the line. Read More
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