How Machines Make Magic Carpets from Oil and Cork (Mar, 1922)

How Machines Make Magic Carpets from Oil and Cork

A HALF a century ago a young inventor noticed that the film on a can of paint was tough. He exposed linseed oil to the air, oxidizing it, then mixed in cork and gum, and produced a substance that could be rolled out, like a pie-crust, into a carpet. Today linoleum, which he thus originated, is manufactured by the machinery pictured on this page.

In the color-design department this block-cutter is carving designs or “cuts” for printing linoleum carpet.

Heated rollers weighing 26 tons each, press into burlap a cement composition of oxidized linseed oil, cork, and gum, forming a waterproof floor-covering.

Above is shown one of the presses.

Here in the oxidizing sheds, boiled linseed oil drips from a conveyor to sheets of scrim that hang from the ceiling. Heat and oxygen turn the oil into semi-solid form.

Operated on a track, so that they can be moved from one end of the building to another, the printing-presses shown in the photograph above stamp color designs on wide sheets of linoleum.

Fresh from the printing-press, the sheet of linoleum is hung in loops to dry in a chamber or “stove” heated to 100 degrees. Above is a top view of the “stove”.

The semi-solid linseed oil on the oxidizing sheets is mashed and mixed with rosin and gum into a cement or binder that will hold the pulverized cork together.

Above are three of the vats in which linseed oil, one of the principal ingredients of linoleum, is boiled. From the vats the oil is pumped to the oxidizing sheds.

A pile of linoleum cement just after it has been poured from a vat for cooling may be seen in the photograph at the left. When dry, the cement looks like marshmallow.

  1. Hirudinea says: September 25, 20125:43 pm

    So do they still make Linoleum (and I get the name Linseed Oil = Linoleum) from Linseed Oil and Cork or is it all just Petrochemicals nowadays?

  2. DrewE says: September 26, 20129:57 am

    If it’s actual linoleum, it’s made essentially as described here, though with a few additional variations in fillers (various wood flours instead of or in addition to cork, for instance). In general usage, any sort of resilient flooring is sometimes referred to as linoleum, and often actually is vinyl (PVC) or something similar, especially for household use. (Actual linoleum is more common in commercial applications, as it has a very long life if maintained properly.)

  3. Hirudinea says: September 26, 201212:31 pm

    @ DrewE – Thanks for the info, seems to me, with the cache attached to all “green” products today real Linoleum could sell itself as an environmentally friendlier product, I mean linseed oil, cork and wood flour, all renewable, and it beats bamboo flooring in the kitchen.

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