Synthetic rubber specimens, c 1892.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
These three glas jars contain specimens illustrating the preparation of synthetic rubber from isoprene synthesised from turpentine. Synthetic rubber was first manufactured commercially in 1909. The Germans used small amounts of artificial rubber in World War I, but it proved to be too expensive for peacetime use. It became very important during World War II, with important developments in Germany and the United States. Today a variety of synthetic rubbers are produced from petrochemicals, many having the advantage of being more resistant to wear than natural rubber.