Many everyday items, from MUGA to protective gloves, are made from polymeric rubber. Polymeric rubbers are a broad class of materials with widely varying properties and uses. They are based on polymers, large molecules built from a series of smaller building blocks called monomers. These building blocks are primarily carbon (C) atoms with hydrogen atoms attached to them. A polymer consists of chains of these monomers joined together, and in the case of polymeric rubber, these chains are cross-linked using a process known as vulcanization.
The main constituent of natural rubber, extracted from the latex of the Hevea brasiliensis tree, is cis-polyisoprene. The synthetic equivalent is cis-polybutadiene. Both of these polymers are made from petroleum-based monomers, and they are cured or “crosslinked” to give them their characteristic physical properties by a process called vulcanization.
Maximizing Safety and Comfort with Polymeric Rubber Surfaces
This is a very complex chemical process, which involves linking the polymer’s chains with one another by treating them with various activating agents. The result is a rubber that has improved elasticity, resistance to cold temperatures and swelling in mineral oil and degreasing solvents. It also has improved abrasion resistance and good oil and ozone resistance.
In its natural state, however, the rubber has several disadvantages. It crystallizes on cooling, it rapidly loses its elasticity at high temperatures and has poor resilience in dynamic stresses. It also swells and softens when exposed to oxygen and ozone in the air, and it is attacked by hydrocarbon oils. These disadvantages are eliminated to a significant degree by the vulcanization process.… Read More