Rubber fiber

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A manufactured fiber in which the fiber forming substance is composed of natural or synthetic rubber (Federal Trade Commission definition). This includes fibers made from natural rubber, polyisoprene, polybutadiene, amorphous polyolefin, acrylonitrile/butadiene and chloroprene. Natural rubber was first made into fibers in 1850, when sheets of vulcanized rubber were cut into thin slivers. In the 1920s, the U.S. Rubber (now Uniroyal) developed a method for extruding rubber fibers. The filaments were usually prepared as a central core then wrapped in other fibers, such as cotton, to form elastic threads (Joseph 1986). Rubber deteriorates in sunlight and loses elasticity with time. Synthetic rubber fibers, later called elastomers, were developed in the 1930s and had superior elastic properties and greater durability. Most elastic fibers made from natural and synthetic rubber (Lastex) were superseded with the introduction of Spandex (1959) and its much superior properties. Rubber fibers were used in fabrics to produce lingerie, swimsuits, hosiery and athletic apparel.

Synonyms and Related Terms

rubber fibre; elastomeric fiber; fiber de caucho (Esp.)


  • Temperatures above 60C can cause degradation of natural rubbers.
  • Vulcanized rubbers can emit sulfur compounds as they degrade.

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Natural rubber: Damaged by petroleum solvents and chlorinated hydrocarbons
  • Degraded by oxygen, light, heat, oils, and oxidizing acids.
  • Cross section is square or circular.
  • Tenacity = 0.45 g/denier
  • Elongation = 700-900%
  • Density = 0.960-1.066

Resources and Citations

  • M. Joseph, Introductory Textile Science, Holt Reinhold & Winston, Fort Worth, 1986.
  • G.Cook, Handbook of Textile Fibres:II. Man-made Fibres, 5th edition, Merrow Publishing Co., Durham, England, 1984. p. 153.