Almost all industrial hoses used to be made of rubber. 20th-century industry would have been much like 19th-century industry without it. But today there are numerous synthetic types of rubber compound, and hose construction has also diversified.
Different types of “rubber” are more suitable for different applications. Here are just four and the purposes to which they are put.
As you might suppose, these have the great advantage of lying flat, or easily rolling up, when not inflated. This provides a huge advantage for storage and allows mobile pumps or fire engines to carry a far greater length. Once connected to a pressurised supply, the profile of the hose changes, enabling it to deliver at the same rate as a round hose.
For most purposes, layflat hoses are made of soft PVC. This can be reinforced to withstand higher pressures. Common uses include irrigation, flood relief and construction projects that need to mix lots of concrete far from a convenient water source.
The Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS) grew out of the British Water Works Association that came together in 1919 to ensure the quality of all plumbing-related equipment throughout the UK (see https://www.wras.co.uk/about_us/history_of_wras/). In practice, “WRAS hose” has to meet higher standards of safety and hygiene so that it can be used to conduct water intended for human consumption. Common scenarios include festivals and camp sites.
Quality standards are defined in BS6920. As you might suppose, a WRAS hose should only be used with drinking quality water.
Hydraulic hoses must contain the high pressures used to operate things like brakes, power steering and industrial control switches. Reinforced rubber, silicone or EPDM can all be used, and your choice will be determined by the qualities of the fluid they will carry. Brake fluid, oil, and other transmission fluids have different chemical compositions that affect different materials.
Silicone hose manufacturers such as https://www.goodflexrubber.com/pages/silicone-hose-manufacture will happily advise you on the ideal hose for your application.
This is often used as a general term for hoses expected to be in contact with potentially noxious or aggressive chemicals. Silicone hose manufacturers provide hoses with excellent chemical and temperature resistance.
Silicone hoses are also ideal in food production scenarios because they are non-toxic and hygienic, but epichlorohydrin rubber is a popular choice for fuel lines.