There are two ways to source rubber material before transforming it into rubber thread. Firstly, it can be obtained from the sap of rubber trees, resulting in natural rubber material. Alternatively, it can be synthesized through a process using petroleum-based monomers. Despite the various materials and techniques available for producing synthetic rubber, many rubber thread producers still prefer natural rubber. This preference is due to natural rubber's superior tensile strength, minimal potent odor, and greater tear resistance, making it the primary ingredient in the production of high-quality rubber threads.
Natural rubber materials are harvested from the sap of rubber trees, which contains latex. Only two primary types of trees, Hevea brasiliensis and Ficus elastica, have been actively cultivated to maximize sap production because not all rubber trees contain latex in their sap. Subsequently, this sap must undergo several steps before it can be transformed into rubber threads for various industries. These steps include :
Latex Treatment : The collected latex requires the addition of chemicals to improve its properties and stabilize it. These added chemicals play a crucial role in helping the producer achieve the desired properties necessary for the production of rubber threads.
Compounding : Thorough mixing is essential to ensure the even distribution of all added chemicals with the collected latex. This meticulous mixing process is referred to as compounding.
Coagulation : The compounded latex is then fed into a machine, where a stream of coagulant is introduced into the mixture through a nozzle. When these elements come into contact, they create a coagulum filament, forming a solid thread. These solid threads are subsequently transferred to another machine for coating with uncoagulated latex by spraying 40 coagulants onto the thread's surface. The size of the nozzle determines the eventual size of the rubber threads.
Vulcanization : Completing this step is crucial because vulcanization enhances the rubber thread's strength, durability, and elasticity by forming cross-links between the polymer chains within the rubber. This vulcanization process can occur in two ways: firstly, heat vulcanization, which requires the rubber thread strand to pass through a heating chamber; and secondly, chemical vulcanization, where a chemical is added to the strand to initiate the vulcanization process.
Finally, after the rubber thread undergoes vulcanization, it needs to be cooled down to set it into its shape and stretched and cut to meet specific requirements or final measures that the producer wants. Before sending it to manufacturers to turn the rubber threads into various applications, it needs to be checked for its uniformity in thickness and strength to ensure consistency in quality. Only after that can it finally be distributed and undergo further process to make it function in specific ways.
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