TARRC Company History
Company History

The Tun Abdul Razak Research Centre is one of the world's leading and most progressive rubber research and development laboratories in the world. It was founded as the British Rubber Producers' Research Association (BRPRA) in 1938 to carry out fundamental scientific research into natural rubber, to establish its structure and explain its elastic behaviour. Over the next 20 years or so most of the basic work in these areas was completed and by the mid-1950s much of the early work was consolidated into a solid body of knowledge about rubber structures and behaviours, not least the relationship between vulcanisate structure and properties. Better understandings of chemical creep and stress relaxation were developed and proved important in the prediction of the service lives of engineering components. In the field of vulcanisation, chemical probes were used for the analysis of crosslink density and the measurement of the relative proportions of poly- di- and mono-sulphide crosslinks. This work paved the way for the development of efficient and semi-efficient vulcanisation systems, which have played an influential role in the reversion and heat resistance of both synthetic and natural rubber.

The need to evaluate tyre performance led to the development of an accelerated wear test rig which made it possible to obtain comparisons from runs as short as fifty miles thus reducing the time for expensive, time-consuming fleet trials. In the late 1950s laminated rubber/steel bearings were developed and proved so successful that they set the pattern for all future bridges.

In 1957 Malaysia once again became a an independent nation and BRPRA changed first to 'Natural'RPRA and to 'Malaysian'RPRA in 1973. From the early 1960s to mid-1980s much of the scientific work of the early years began to bear practical fruit. During this period work on the engineering uses of rubber came to the fore as a result of much brilliant and innovative work by Lindley. Collaboration with consulting engineers led, in 1964, to the development of building mounts to isolate structures from ground-bourne vibrations which eventually led to the development of using bearings for earthquake protection.

In 1974 the research centre moved to its current location at Brickendonbury, near Hertford where the mansion was restored to provide office accommodation and existing buildings were modified and extended to provide an excellent laboratory block. As the Research Centre entered its second half century in 1988 there followed ten years of high quality research achievements including an outstandingly successful programme of work on blends that opened up new opportunities for natural rubber to be blended with synthetic rubbers, including nitrile and ethylene propylene rubber and ENR. These produced new useful materials with enhanced properties, which extend the working limits for natural rubber, a feature of importance to Malaysia. Another major programme involved the development and assessment of natural rubber truck tyre retread compounds. Natural rubber rich treads were shown to have almost as good wear properties as an all-synthetic rubber tread with significantly lower rolling resistance and hence better fuel economy. One of the most exiting developments in the field of modified rubber involved combining technology from two of the Research Centre's discoveries: TPNR and ENR. The new material, TPENR, combined excellent oil resistance with outstanding ageing performance. The work on earthquake bearings was extended to develop systems suitable for smaller, lighter buildings and the Research Centre was involved in a 'world first'; to retro fit bearings to a building in Armenia with minimal disturbance to the residents. The bearings for this were manufactured by two Malaysian companies.

The work done in the 1960s established the laboratory as a centre of excellence for the design of rubber engineering components and that reputation was maintained in the 1990s as the new computerized design tools emerged. MRPRA had its home in the 'Tun Abdul Razak Laboratory' at Brickendonbury since its naming in June 1977 by the then Malaysian prime Minister, Tun Hussein Onn. At that time the funding of the Laboratory was almost entirely from the research cess collected from the Malaysian rubber producers, since its role was consumer oriented research to support the use of Malaysian rubber in the West. Times changed and the Malaysian Government began to focus more on encouraging and supporting the downstream rubber industry and MRPRA became the Tun Abdul Razak Research Centre (TARRC) to more truly reflect its new role. TARRC's research programme was accordingly tailored to serve the interests of the expanding Malaysian rubber product manufacturing sector, as well as to extend the opportunities and markets for high quality Malaysian natural rubber.

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June 2010
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