A rubber blanket is a product made with either natural or synthetic rubber. Rubber blankets are used in a number of different ways and industries. Specific styles of rubber blanket can be obtained from various manufacturers, along with accessories for products such as rubber heating blankets. Generally, the type of rubber blanket someone is referring to is clear from the context of the discussion.
Historically, rubber blankets were issued to soldiers who might be lying on the ground. Also known as gum blankets, these blankets were used to create a layer of waterproofing between the soldier and the soil, keeping people more comfortable during sleep. Blankets of a similar design may also be used as groundsheets by campers and other people have cause to be outdoors and who may want a waterproof ground cloth or drop sheet.
In the printing industry, rubber blankets are used for offset lithography. In this printing technique, an image is transferred from rollers to a rubber blanket, and from the blanket to the medium being printed on, usually paper. Rubber blankets for lithographic presses are available through printing suppliers. Rubber blankets are also sometimes used for making molds and dies for various industrial processes.
People who work with electricity may utilize a type of rubber blanket in their work. In this case, the blanket is designed to insulate someone from live electricity. For example, a rubber insulating blanket may be spread out while working in a lab to prevent accidental electrical contacts which could interfere with an experiment or process in the lab. Such blankets are also sometimes used by utility workers to protect themselves from high voltage.
Another use of rubber blankets is in rubber heating blankets. The heating element is embedded inside the rubber, reducing the risk of an electrical short or a similar problem by insulating the electricity and allowing the rubber to dissipate the heat. Rubber blankets distribute heat very evenly, as well, making them effective in a number of settings where blanket heating is desired.
Rubber is highly useful in all of these settings because it is flexible, durable, easy to handle, and an excellent insulator. It also resists water and some types of corrosion, depending on how it is produced. A rubber blanket can also be specifically treated to address particular corrosive concerns, prolonging the life of a blanket and ensuring that it will operate as expected for the duration of the product's life.