rubber companies had the technology and the responsibility to build
the plants to produce synthetic rubber. The government provided an
equally important component, the capital. W. I. Burt, a B. F. Goodrich
engineer, chaired the committee that designed and built the first
government GR-S plant. Walter Piggot, also from Goodrich, chaired
the engineering committee for GR-S production.
plants were scattered across the country, some for polymerization,
others for the production of the monomers. The initial plants were
built and brought onstream in a record time of nine months.
produced the program's first bale of synthetic rubber on April 26,
1942, followed by Goodyear on May 18, United States Rubber on September
4, and Goodrich on November 27. In 1942, these four plants produced
2,241 tons of synthetic rubber. By 1945, the United States was producing
about 920,000 tons per year of synthetic rubber, 85 percent of which
was GR-S rubber. Of that 85 percent, the four major companies were
producing 547,500 tons per year (70%).
continued after the war ended in August 1945. Synthetic rubber was
improved and, after the wartime plants served again during the Korean
Conflict, became an integral part of the rubber industry. GR-S production
returned to private hands in 1955 when the government sold the plants.
As the 20th century draws to a close, the rubber industry has grown
to a $60 billion international enterprise with about 15,000 establishments
operating in the United States. Synthetic rubber is a vital part
of the transportation, aerospace, energy, electronics, and consumer