Charles Goodyear (1800 - 1860)
Patented the Vulcanization of Rubber (Industrial Process for Producing Rubber)
Hi and welcome to Bootkidz, a small design company based in London. This page is about Charles Goodyear, the inventor of the process called "The Vulcanization of rubber".
Today rubber is one of the most useful natural products known to mankind.
Rubber is used in the manufacture of rain boots, clothing, tyres, medical equipment, rain jackets, sports equipment,
kitchen utensils, and thousands of other products.
What exactly did Charles Goodyear invent? Answer: Charles Goodyear invented the process of vulcanization - and without vulcanization, rubber would simply decay - like every other organic material.
He invented a chemical treatment process to prevent rubber from getting soft in hot weather and brittle in cold weather. "Rubber" as we know it today is actually a chemical compound combining natural "Latex" or "tree sap" with sulphur and other chemicals. Charles Goodyear did not discover rubber he invented a treatment for rubber called "Vulcanization".
New! Watch this video about Charles Goodyear on the History Channel website.
Charles Goodyear (Born 1800 - Died 1860)
Charles Goodyear was born in New Haven, Connecticut. He invented the process of the vulcanization of rubber - patenting the process in 1844 after spending many years perfecting the process.
Goodyear triumphs over adversity
He was imprisoned many times for bad debts incurred due to his investment in his inventions. In the end, his invention of vulcanized rubber is one of the most important inventions of our modern economy, vital for the transport industry in the form of rubber tyres for vehicles.
Roxbury Rubber Company
Goodyear worked with the owners of the Roxbury Rubber Company (read Scientific American no. 787, Jan 31, 1891) to perfect their rubber products to prevent them from decaying after being sold. This led to his invention of the vulcanization process.
Charles Goodyear Books
Goodyear Motor Company
Rubber tyre from Goodyear Tyre Co
The Goodyear Motor Company
named itself in honour of Charles Goodyear. See here for more information on the
rubber tire. Note: Spelling of Tire is US, Tyre in UK.
Although natural rubber is often replaced with synthetic rubber in modern tyres, Charles Goodyear made a profound impact on
the economy of the world with his invention of vulcanized rubber. Almost as important as the invention of the wheel
itself, is the rubber to go around it. Without rubber tyres, planes couldn't land and the transport system would be
running on metal or wooden wheels.
See here for a history of the rubber tyre.
Vulcanization is the process of converting latex (from a rubber tree - Hevea brasiliensis) into the useful substance which we call rubber; useful for products like Wellington Boots (Rubber Boots), tyres for vehicles, and erasers for pencils. The process of vulcanization involves the application of a combination of heat and sulphur in specific proportions to a latex base mixture. The purpose of vulcanization is to prevent or slow down the natural decay of rubber.
Examples of rubber products
Here are some examples of everyday products made from rubber. If it weren't for Charles Goodyear's invention of vulcanization many of these useful daily gadgets and products would not exist today.
Who invented rubber Wellington boots?
No single person was responsible for the invention of rubber Wellington Boots. Goodyear was responsible for creating the process that produced the first rubber that made the manufacture of rubber Wellington boots possible. The Duke of Wellington designed the Wellington Boot (although not called the Wellington boot at the time) for his soldiers for the Battle of Waterloo, in 1815, fighting against Napoleon. The distinguishing feature of the Wellington Boot was the low-cut heels and the calf-high tops. The Duke of Wellington, defeated Napoleon at Waterloo, and in the wake of this victory and his ensuing popularity, Wellington boots became popular, originally made in hessian, but later made in rubber. The hessian boot was the forerunner of the both the cowboy boot and the Wellington boot.
Wellington Boots Origin
In 1847, S.C. Shive, in America, patented the patterns and crimping
board for what is known as a Full Wellington.
This was a two piece boot that found wide acceptance among the military, horsemen, and adventurers of the time,
possibly due to the news of the Battle of Waterloo.
Of interest is that by 1868 Wellingtons were almost exclusively an American style.
Europe preferred the Hessian boot style - which had tassels and a more pointy toe.
Ref: Full account of boot history
Hiram Hutchinson licensed Goodyear's rubber process to manufacture rubber boots, although these were not originally called Wellington Boots, and were mainly sold for farm labourers to use instead of wooden cloggs. He started the Aigle company - now well known for producing quality Wellington Boots. By 1857 Aigle was producing 14,000 pairs of hand-made rubber boots per day! Read more about the history of Aigle here.
Synthetic Rubber and Neoprene
Synthetic rubber is used to substitute for the real thing, usually in cases where the impurities found in natural rubber are not desired (such as in medical applications). One of the most successful synthetic rubbers is Neoprene (invented by DuPont in 1931); Neoprene is used in wetsuits and Wellington Boots - and has superior insulation, are weather proof/water proof, and exhibit chemical inertness.
Charles Goodyear Jnr. (Welting Process Invention)
Charles Goodyear's son invented machinery to create shoes. He patented a shoe welt machine (in 1871) and created the Goodyear welt construction process, which to this day is the process used to make the finest boots and shoes.
- Charles Goodyear has been noted as an innovator who helped build America.
- Goodyear has been credited with over 60 inventions relating to rubber (see this PDF in online Rubber science journal (payment may be required)).
- Rubber.org - scientific website focused on rubber inventions
- Charles Goodyear
- Obtaining Latex from a Rubber Tree
- Charles Goodyear Hall of Fame #68 - Invent Now Hall of Fame
- Vulcanization Process
- History of the Goodyear Tyre Company: Charles Goodyear
- Charles Goodyear's Patent No. 240 - relating to the vulcanization of rubber