Giovanni Battista Pirelli is a fundamental character in the rubber industry in Italy and, consequently, in all the numerous industrial sectors utilizing this material.
In 1872, he founded the “G. B. Pirelli & C.” company for production of rubber articles. In a few years, in addition to tubes, belts, and rubber canvases, the company was producing carpets, waterproof fabrics and clothing and many items for haberdashery, typography, sanitary use, and toys.
In 1879, it began producing cables and wires for transmission of electrical energy and communications, rapidly becoming a world leader. In 1883, it began production of elastic yarns for weaving, and between 1884 and 1887, production of underwater cables. Beginning in 1899 it provided cables for the hydroelectric plant on the Niagara in Canada, realized by the Riva company. Initially, its production of tires was aimed primarily at bicycles, then beginning in 1901, with the birth of the first Italian automobile tire, called Ercole, it began also providing for cars and trucks.
Late 19th century
in the 1880s, the Pirelli company began production of copper cables for underwater use, essential for the emergence of intercontinental telecommunications. Given the importance of this new industrial sector, Pirelli commissioned a cable-laying vessel and had it built expressly in England. With the Città di Milano, as it was christened, he became entirely autonomous in every phase of the cabling of a network, from production to installation. Thanks to the Città di Milano and to other similar ships launched subsequently, the Pirelli company laid thousands of kilometers of cable in both italian and foreign waters. These cables, predating Pirelli’s industrial production, represent an example of those that would later number among the company’s most important products.
The mixer is a fundamental machine for the working of rubber. This specimen, dating back to 1948, is based on the same criteria as the machines that would subsequently be designed and produced: two cylinders with horizontal axes rotate in opposing directions and at slightly different speeds, thus carrying out the mixing procedure. The cylinders are moved by a system of belts and pulleys driven by a motor located at the lower part of the machine.
The birth and development of tires is a key condition for the progress of road transport. This tire from 1915 represents the production example that made Pirelli famous, more than any other, in the eyes of the greater public. The creation of a tire occurs through the packaging of the compound that combines the rubber – natural, synthetic, or both – with other ingredients such as carbon black, used as “filler” to give greater mechanical strength, and a mixture of oils to increase the degree of workability. Thus was born rubberized fabric, which constitutes the resistant element of the tire.