Foam rubber has its beginnings as early as 500 B.C. Early civilizations used the white sap from the rubber tree to waterproof homes and maintain heat within the walls. In the 1900’s synthetic rubber was finally patented. Today polyurethane is used for foam products. The United States consumes the most foam rubber at a staggering 4.8 billion pounds used in 1997.
Rubber foam is a benefit for people and has a wide range of usage. There are two types of foam in use today. One is flexible foam and the other is rigid foam. The flexible version of the foam is used in furniture, car seats, insulate walls, and even in the very shoes that we wear. The rigid form of foam rubber is used in insulating buildings, appliances like freezers and refrigeration trucks.
There is a technical process for the production of foam rubber. The first step is material preparation. The material used is usually delivered in tanker cars by train. From there they are pumped into holding tanks until the chemicals are ready for mixing. The second step is the mixing process. Pumps measure the exact amount of each chemical and deposit them into a mixing tank. From there they are mixed and then pour onto a belt where is cures and rises. As the belt moves along the third step takes place where the foam is cut into smaller pieces. After the rubber foam is cut it is allowed to set for another twelve hours. From this point the foam is formed into the product that is needed by consumers. After the product is made there is an inspection and testing period to check its physical properties.
The waste created by the process is taken care of by recycling. The process for recycling rubber foam is an ever developing one. One method used today is to break the foam into smaller pieces and use them in the formation of new rubber foam. Another way to recycle the foam is to break it down into smaller pieces and use the pieces in the formation of car seats cushions for furniture. Rubber foam will have a rich future in the times ahead as better and new technology refines the process