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Sally Reed

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Vital Information About Rubber Manufacturing

Rubber is one of the most commonly used products all over the world. Rubber manufacturing bear close resemblance to that involved in the production of plastics. The two are, however, in different industries. The raw material that is required for this process is obtained from trees or manufactured synthetically from petroleum products. The final product is more or less the same regardless of methods used.

Processing of rubber to make the final products occurs at what are termed fabricator plants. In these fabricators a number of process take place including mixing, compounding, mixing, shaping and vulcanizing. Although there are many forms of products that are produced, tires have taken the largest share of the market. Tires are highly demanded by the automobile and aviation industries. They are also a major component of conveyor belts in many industries.

Natural rubber is produced from latex, a raw material that is obtained from trees. The trees are grown in many parts of the world that include Southeast Asia and Africa. Latex is an emulsion that comprises solid particles of the polymer polyisoprene. Only about 30% of the final product is in the latex. Latex is tapped in several large tanks so that several sources are blended together.

Recovering rubber from latex involves a series of stages. The first of these stages is termed coagulation. In this stage, an acid is added to the initial emulsion and the mixture left to stand still for about twelve hours. Solidification takes place during this period. To squeeze out any excess water, the coagulum is passed through a number of cylindrical rollers. The next stage is drying in a smoke house. Several days are required for this.

As the product is dried it takes a dark brown colour and is at this stage called ribbed smoked sheet. Folding and packing into bales is done for ease of shipping to various processors. In some cases, the product will be air dried rather than smoked. The resultant rubber in this instance is known as a dried sheet. The latter type is considered as being of superior quality. Two steps of coagulation may be undertaken to yield a product that has even better quality than the other two types.

Synthetic rubber production starts with the synthesis of polymers from petroleum. The processes that are involved here the same that are used in the production of any form of polymers. The only difference is that the polymers that are produced are in the form of bales rather pellets or liquid resins. At the fabricators, the first process that takes place is compounding in which other substances are added. The type of additive that is added depends on the intended use of the product.

Carbon black is one of the most commonly used additives. This carbon is obtained from the decomposition of hydrocarbons using thermal energy. Carbon is responsible for enhanced tensile strength and reduced risk of tearing. Most products are black in colour because of this carbon. Another benefit is the ability of this carbon to reduce damage by ultraviolet radiation.

Other types of additives commonly used include china clay, styrene, antioxidants and phenolics. All additives are thoroughly mixed so as to get uniform dispersion of the constituent ingredients. Products that are to be used in tires and conveyor belts require filament reinforcement. The role of this process is to reduce extensibility without losing the other desirable properties. At the end of this process, the final product is ready for use.

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