Hard Rubber combs have been in production since 1800s. Ebonite was initially developed by the automobile tire industry.
Hard Rubber combs have 3 primary properties that make it a viable product:
1) Resistant to heat up to 450%
2) Will not degenerate in barbicide solutions
3) Seamless - will not catch and break hair
For almost a hundred years, there were only 3 companies that produced Hard Rubber Combs: New-York Hamburg of Hamburg, Germany which is still in production, Sempirit of Austria which was purchased by NYH in late 90s and Goody Products (owned by Newell-Rubbermaid). Goody produced them in Arkansas under ACE until they shut down the plant in late 90s. In 1999, Goody sold 11 million Hard Rubber combs and Ace share of the market had fallen from 5.6% to 2.9%, but the numbers were still strong. Ace combs were an American icon among barbers.
Presto Industries' foray into Hard Rubber combs:
Although Presto Industries has been in the family since late 1800s, they started the comb business by producing the cellulose acetate combs in 60s (www.TheSpaComb.com) after purchasing the tools from a German factory. In late 90s, Presto was working with Goody Products who then owned the Ace production and distribution. When Goody was purchased by Newell, they wanted to close down their Ace production facility in Arkansas. Presto offered to purchase their tools and technology to produce exclusively for them. They declined. 20 years later, Ace combs have gone from a market share of almost 70% among hairdressers in the 90s to a very small market.
About the same time, Sempirit wanted to close down their Hard Rubber comb business - their primary business was with items related to rubber tires. They sold their distribution to NYH of Germany.
It has taken Presto almost 20 years to develop the product right. They now produce them under their own Pegasus brand. It is a capricious process. Today, along with NYH, Presto Industries is the only company that produces the genuine Hard Rubber Combs. Helen of Troy, the world's largest distributor of Beauty Products, retails 2 models for $ 9.99 that they label as Hard Rubber Combs but have a disclaimer in the back that they are produced from a thermoplastic process. Other manufacturers have labeled their comb as "Better than Hard Rubber". Carbon combs have some of the properties and are very popular because they cost much less to produce as most of them contain less than 30% carbon. Genuine Hard Rubber combs can be produced only via vulcanization to contain the properties. It is Presto's goal to develop the Pegasus market for Hard Rubber that Ace had in its hay days.
Hard Rubber combs can handle a temperature of up to 230 C (446 F). But what makes the Pegasus comb unique is that it is produced from Flexinite technology, which is an intelligent material - when the hair is exposed to high temperatures, the comb will soften to adapt to the hair in order to avoid damage or breakage to the cuticle. Once the hair cools down, so will the comb and it will become return to its initial hardness.