What is Latex, and How is it Made?
Rubber made from natural latex is different from that which is made from extruded or synthetic materials. Primeline utilizes a “continuous dip process” in which the rubber is built up in a layered process that offers superior physical properties. This process also allows virtually all of the proteins found in latex to be removed, with less than 50 micrograms of extractable protein per gram remaining. The proteins found in Latex can be responsible for allergic reactions, and therefore by reducing them this process reduces the risks of such reactions as well. Our tubing is also phthalate free.
Natural latex is a milky white extract from certain plants, primarily the Hevea Brasiliensis tree, grown in large plantations for commercial cultivation. Latex may be either converted into dry stock or remain in a liquid form. When combined with certain chemical ingredients such as anti-oxidants and curing agents, the physical properties of the finished product are enhanced. Most curing agents, or “cure packages”, contain sulfur and other activators which transform the raw latex into rubber under a common process known as vulcanization. The procedure for adding the necessary ingredients is known as compounding.
If the latex is to be converted to dry stock, the compounding must be added under a process known as mastication, in which the dry stock is first sheared by passing through rollers to reduce it into basic polymer chains, then the compound ingredients are added under additional forced pressure to result in a dry product. The dry product can be molded or extruded into a variety of finished products.
Primeline uses the original liquid form of natural latex, which avoids the mastication process. Water based dispersions are blended with the raw latex, resulting in an evenly distributed formula. The result is a superior base product with superior physical properties including greater tear resistance.. These properties are essential in providing strength and performance to rubber tubing, surgical gloves, condoms, balloons and other similar natural latex based products.
When compared to the dry stock approach, Primeline’s “continuous dip process” is far more time consuming and labor intensive, but the result is a better end product. It is not a method conducive to shortcuts and quick fixes. Our quality comes from attention to detail and continuous product refinement, based on many years of experience.