Man's physical universe



price of natural rubber has fluctuated from 3 cents to $1.35 per pound

Plantations can make an excellent profit

within the past twenty years.

when natural rubber sells at between 15 and 18 cents per pound provided

that shipping costs are normal. The manufacture of synthetic

rubber is likely to help to stabilize the price of natural rubber.

All the forms of synthetic rubber could be produced from petroleum

as the main raw material, and if our total supply of rubber were produced

from petroleum it would use only one third of one per cent of

the annual production of crude oil. To a large extent the petroleum

products used would be by-products, such as refinery gases, for which

there has been little sale up to the present time.

The possible production of natural rubber prior to " Pearl Harbor"

was 1,600,000 tons per year, while the normal consumption was only

1,000,000 tons. This surplus of natural rubber would have increased

as additional plantations came into production. Natural rubber is

superior to all synthetic rubbers in regard to elasticity and rebound,

extensibility, and resistance to stiffening at low temperatures. The

types of synthetic rubber now available would not displace


rubber in this country, except for specialized purposes, for a long time

to come unless wars made it impossible to ship the natural rubber or

other international upheavals make it impossible to obtain the rubber

for other reasons.

The expansion of the synthetic-rubber industry would probably

follow the usual pattern unless emergency conditions change this


This pattern is about as follows:

1. The introduction of a product of exceptional quality at higher prices

than the products which it will replace.

2. The gradual lowering in the price and improvement in the quality

as increased production and additional experience and research iron

out production wrinkles.

3. New applications made possible by lowered costs and increased

quality again increase production and again decrease the price until

it is competitive with the price of the product which it is displacing.

4. Competition results in more research, still lower prices, and improved

quality, with the result that the consumer can buy more

"better things for better living."


1. How do you account for Goodyear's "lucky accident"?

2. What is meant by "vulcanization of rubber"?

3. Describe some of the important new developments in the utilization of rubber.

4. Why do the automobile tires of today give much better mileage than the tires

of ten or twenty years ago?

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