Natural rubber consists of long, loosened isoprene polymer chains. The chains reconnect once separated: This gives the rubber elasticity it needs.
As opposed to synthetic rubbers, which are made from petrochemicals, natural rubber is made from the latex sap of the native Brazilian tree Hevea brasiliensis, commonly known as the rubber tree.
WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF NATURAL RUBBER?
In its native Central and South American regions, the rubber was harvested for a long time. The Mesoamerican civilizations used rubber from the plant known as Castilla elastica.
The old Mesoamericans had a ball game with rubber balls. The Spanish conquistadores were so astounded by the dynamic bouncing of the rubber balls that they wondered if the balls were bewitched by evil spirits.
The Maya even made a rubber shoe by dipping their feet into the latex mixture. Rubber has also been used in other contexts, such as strips for holding stone and metal tools to wooden handles and upholstery for tool handles.
Whereas the old Mesoamericans were not aware of vulcanization, they developed organic methods to treat rubber with similar outcomes, blending raw latex with various from other vineyards.
In Brazil, people understood the use of rubber to produce waterproof rags. A story tells that the first European to come back to Portugal with samples of this product, a rubberized fabric shocked people that it was brought up in the court for sorcery.
HOW IS NATURAL RUBBER MADE?
Natural rubber is extracted from a rubber shaft and then treated with chemicals and heat for use in production. The tree is cut and the sap flows through a cup. One-third of the latex is rubber at this stage, retained in a colloidal suspension and one-third is water.
To refine the latex into rubber, latex is mixed with formic acid to make the rubber coagulate into curds which are then washed and pressed into blocks or pressed into sheets that are then smoked.
Then the rubber is put through the mastication machinery to make it more practical and then mixed with chemicals to improve its properties.
It’s then formed into a shape either by calendaring or extrusion and vulcanised to make it more durable, elastic, and resilient. Even though artificial rubber was invented in the 1930s, natural rubber is still used today making up a little under half the market.
NATURAL RUBBER STRUCTURE AND FORMULA
Natural rubber is made up of solid particles appended in a milky white liquid called latex that drips from the bark of tropical and subtropical trees. This latex rubber is found in countries like Brazil, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.
It is made by the polymerization of isoprene 2 methyl-1, 3-butadiene and it is known as cis- 1, 4- polyisoprene. In simple terms, they are rendered by loosely linking the monomers of isoprene in the shape of a long tangled chain.
WHAT ARE THE PROPERTIES OF NATURAL RUBBER?
Natural rubber is one of the most versatile types and is resistant to water and some chemicals. With a temperature range of -58 to 212 degrees, it’s also resistant to cutting, tearing, fatigue, and abrasion.
Additionally, it has tremendous tensile strength and adheres easily to other materials. Natural rubber, on the other hand, is less resistant to heat, light, and ozone than other rubbers.
The material also varies depending on the tree from which it is made. Natural rubber is water and chemical resistant but it is also susceptible to petrol, oil, and non-polar solvents.
APPLICATION OF NATURAL RUBBER
WHAT ARE THE USES OF NATURAL RUBBER?
Natural rubber is used in applications desiring a high level of wear and heat resistance due to its strength and compressibility. natural rubber is used in engineering applications like anti-vibration mounts, drive couplings, springs, rubber bands, and adhesives but the superiority of natural rubber is used in high performance tires for race cars and aircraft.
Anyhow, thanks to its adhesive properties, natural rubber is also found in rubber cement and the soil stabilization materials used for roads. Raw rubber is also used in adhesives and as a component of shoe soles. About 10% of latex is reduced down to 60 rubber solutions to make latex gloves.
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF NATURAL RUBBER
Natural Rubber features high resilience, exceptional tensile strength, and tear resistance. In addition to exemplary wear resistance, Natural rubber can also offer low permanent set characteristics plus good flexing qualities at low temperatures.
This rubber can be compounded to meet nearly any mechanical requirement. It can be electrically insulating or fully conductive
Natural rubber has a low resistance to hydrocarbons, fats, oils, and greases, which is one of its drawbacks. Contact with these substances can lead to swelling or dissolution of the rubber part.
This is the reason natural rubber is not an excellent choice for industrial gaskets applications that involve these substances. Another disadvantage is the vulnerability to ozone and weather elements.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
[epcl_accordion custom_class=”” title=”Q. NATURAL RUBBER STILL USED?”]Rubber is a natural product made by plants that can be found in many of the items we use on a daily basis. It still plays a critical role and that is why we need to search for new rubber sources. Nowadays, 99 percent natural rubber is extracted from the tree called Hevea brasiliensis. [/epcl_accordion]
[epcl_accordion custom_class=”” title=”Q. IS NATURAL RUBBER ECO-FRIENDLY?”] Natural rubber is eco-friendly. Harvesting the product has less impact on the environment.
Rubber is a long-term crop that contributes to the global carbon balance in the atmosphere. Natural rubber can also be recycled and get a new life in the form of some other product. [/epcl_accordion]
[epcl_accordion custom_class=”” title=”Q. IS NATURAL RUBBER TOXIC?”] Natural Rubber is not a toxic substance and also free of petroleum metals making it a safe choice for plants and animals. Moreover, this material is also renewable and biodegradable [/epcl_accordion]
Natural Rubber is one of the best rubber available in the market due to its excellent tensile strength and extreme flexibility. We hope that this guide, covering its properties, advantages, limitations, and applications has been useful for you.
Natural rubber is only one of the certain kinds of rubber used in the industry today. For more information on the varied types, you can check out our Types of rubber and properties article or follow us on Instagram to stay updated