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A History of Elasticity

Aug 17, 2007
Man has, since the early times, found out how useful elastic materials are. And today's man has improved on this idea and constantly finds ways to make more elastic materials to suit his everyday needs.

Elasticity refers to the property of an object to deform when load is applied to it, and to return to its natural form when the load is relieved. Many of the everyday things you see around you are elastic materials: rubber bands, sports balls, slingshots, bows, and even bungees!

From the earliest days, man found out that certain objects would 'spring' back to its original shape if pressure to deform the object was removed.

At first, this sort of annoyed him since the most common things that showed this property were animal parts which he ate. Somewhere between inventing fire and creating the wheel, he thought, "Hmm, maybe I could use this for something."

Thus was born the first elastic strings made of animal gut to hold stuff together. As time passed by, man found out that these elastic strings made from animal gut could be used as a weapon. When a projectile was loaded in to these elastic strings, they were propelled through the air at great speeds. Thus was born the bow and arrow.

Rubber is one of the more popular elastic materials around. Many products derived from rubber are bounced around, stretched, and pounded - and they come back to shape.

Because of this property, many people find diversified reasons to love rubber. If people were to use rigid materials, those objects would break, or get deformed. And for some objects deformity equates to unusability.

Rubber was used by the Early American Indians before Columbus even set foot on the Americas. They called the substance Caoutchouc, which comes from the word cahuhchu - meaning weeping wood. This substance came from the sap of the rubber tree.

At first the westerners found out that this substance could be used to rub out pencil stains. Therefore, it was called rubber - to commemorate its glorious ability to rub.

Other elastic materials have varied uses in today's world. Rubber is used for tires, elastic bands, and other 'bouncy' objects. Coiled spring is used for suspensions, and spring-loaded applications. They are even used in variable sized sheathings.

The most common example of this is the condom. Elastic materials are commonly used on clothing to provide a comfortable fit on people. They are also useful in cases where you need watertight equipment.

Elastic materials are also handy in creating cushioning materials: tires, soles for shoes, for cars, for beddings and other uses. These applications require materials that will protect the user from sudden shock. Elastic materials absorb the energy and disperse them in a non-traumatic manner for cushions.

These materials are also used in sports. Insulated, elastic balls are integral to many sports because non-elastic balls would deform when used. Basketballs, volleyballs, and soccer balls have to be elastic to allow them to return to their normal shape after being subject to load and trauma.

There seems to be no sure hint that the use of elastic materials will abate. There will constantly be use for these sort of materials. As man steadily finds ways to make use of these wonders, he also steadily finds better ways to create more elastic materials.
About the Author
James Monahan is the owner and Senior Editor of
ElasticHub.com and writes expert
articles about elastic.
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