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Thomas Hancock - Elastic

Thomas Hancock invented the rubber masticator


Thomas Hancock - Elastic

Thomas Hancock

Thomas Hancock was an English inventor who founded the British rubber industry. Hancock invented the masticator, a machine that shredded rubber scraps, allowing rubber to be recycled after being formed into blocks or rolled into sheets.

The Masticator

In 1820, Thomas Hancock patented elastic fastenings for gloves, suspenders, shoes and stockings. In the process of creating the first elastic fabrics, Hancock found himself wasting considerable rubber. He invented the masticator to help conserve rubber.

Hancock kept notes during the process of invention. He made the following comments: "pieces with fresh cut edges would perfectly unite; but the outer surface, which had been exposed, would not unite... it occurred to me that if minced up very small the amount of fresh-cut surface would be greatly increased and by heat and pressure might possibly unite sufficiently for some purposes".

Thomas Hancock Invents A Pickle?

An eccentric Thomas Hancock initially did not choose to patent his machine, instead he gave it the deceptive name of "pickle" so that no one else would know what it was.

The first masticator was a wooden machine that used a hollow cylinder studded with teeth - inside the cylinder was a studded core that was hand cranked. To masticate means to chew.

In 1821, Thomas Hancock joined forces with the Scottish chemist and inventor of waterproof fabrics, Charles Macintosh. Together they produced macintosh coats, or mackintoshes. The wooden masticator turned into a steam-driven metal machine, used to supple the Macintosh factory with masticated rubber.

Thomas Hancock Patents The Masticator

In 1837, Thomas Hancock finally patented the masticator, perhaps motivated by the Charles Macintosh's legal problems with his patent for a method for making waterproof garments being challenged.

In the pre-Goodyear and pre-vulcanization age of rubber age, the masticated rubber that Hancock invented was used for pneumatic cushions, mattresses, pillows and bellows, hose, tubing, solid tires, shoes, packing and springs. It was used everywhere. Hancock became the largest manufacturer of rubber goods in the world.

Continue > Charles Macintosh

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