The History of Polymers: Then and Now

Many of the innovations used in commercial roofing today trace their roots to the late 1930s in the early days of World War II.

Around that time, the Japanese invaded Indonesia and Southeast Asia, and cut off American supply to the natural latex rubber plants there. Those plants served as valuable feedstock to U.S. rubber manufacturers, which were using half the world’s supply of natural rubber; most of it from Southeast Asia.

Losing access to this critical commodity during the war could have crippled our military, which relied on it for vehicle, airplane and tank tires, as well as on battleships, footwear and other equipment.

In response, the American government enlisted the help of the nation’s rubber industry and top research institutions to quickly develop a general-purpose synthetic rubber on a commercial scale. And fast.

What ultimately resulted, according to the American Chemical Society, was not only a high-quality, highly versatile “GR-S” rubber (Government Rubber – Styrene) that solved the military’s timely challenge, but also a flood of new knowledge about the polymerization process, production, efficiency and quality control, and a better overall understanding of the chemical structure of rubber.

Where the Rubber Meets the Roof

The possibilities post-war with this new, synthetic rubber were destined for wide appeal, and in particular, within the roofing industry. Through the use of polymers, our industry would be able to vastly improve the waterproofing and wear characteristics of roofs; and innovation ultimately followed.

Different manufacturers took polymers in different directions, and we saw roof systems like TPO, PVC and EPDM develop. Each were more advanced, and safer, than the commonly used coal tar and asphalt roofing systems, but each also had their kryptonite, so to speak. Or their failure points.

At Simon Roofing, we’re excited to be launching our own roof replacement solution; one that virtually eliminates the most common failure points on commercial roofs.

CLP Membrane

Our CLP Membrane is a hybrid, cross-linked polymer commercial roof replacement system that’s partially factory-made and part field-fabricated. It’s specially designed to be seamless, saturated, not laminated, redundant, and puncture-resistant – all of which can reduce or eliminate the most common failure points found in competing single-ply systems.

This may just revolutionize single-ply commercial roof systems.