The use of rubber is widespread, ranging from household to industrial products, entering the production stream at the intermediate stage or as final products. Tires and tubes are the largest consumers of rubber, accounting for around 56% total consumption in 2005. The remaining 44% are taken up by the general rubber goods (GRG) sector, which includes all products except tires and tubes.
Other significant uses of rubber are door and window profiles, hoses, belts, matting, flooring and dampeners (anti-vibration mounts) for the automotive industry in what is known as the "under the bonnet" products. Gloves (medical, household and industrial) are also large consumers of rubber and toy balloons, although the type of rubber used is that of the concentrated latex. Significant tonnage of rubber is used as adhesives in many manufacturing industries and products, although the two most noticeable are the paper and the carpet industry. Rubber is also commonly used to make rubber bands and pencil erasers.
Additionally, rubber produced as a fiber sometimes called elastic, has significant value for use in the textile industry because of its excellent elongation and recovery properties. For these purposes, manufactured rubber fiber is made as either an extruded round fiber or rectangular fibers that are cut into strips from extruded film. Because of its low dye acceptance, feel and appearance, the rubber fiber is either covered by yarn of another fiber or directly woven with other yarns into the fabric. In the early 1900’s, for example, rubber yarns were used in foundation garments. While rubber is still used in textile manufacturing, its low tenacity limits its use in lightweight garments because latex lacks resistance to oxidizing agents and is damaged by aging, sunlight, oil, and perspiration. Seeking a way to address these shortcomings, the textile industry has turned to Neoprene (polymer form of Chloroprene), a type of synthetic rubber as well as another more commonly used elastomer fiber, spandex (also known as elastane), because of their superiority to rubber in both strength and durability.
Natural rubber is often vulcanized, a process by which the rubber is heated and sulfur, peroxide or bisphenol are added to improve resilience and elasticity, and to prevent it from perishing. Vulcanization greatly improved the durability and utility of rubber from the 1830s on. The successful development of vulcanization is most closely associated with Charles Goodyear. Carbon black is often used as an additive to rubber to improve its strength, especially in vehicle tires.