The rubber industry has been around since man first discovered the unique properties of latex and its derivatives. From the beginnings of sap collection to the modern manufacturing of rubber products, it has driven significant technological advancements and lent itself to various applications.
One of the key elements of rubber is the use of active agents, components which are combined with latex to create a malleable compound for wider use. They can create a range of properties, from flexibility to water resistance, as well as durability and strength. These active agents are naturally derived from materials such as mineral oils, antioxidants and plasticizers, as well as man-made chemicals and components.
Types of Active Agents
The type of active agent used can depend on the product; the most common use of rubber requires the combination of natural and artificial agents to create desirable properties. Common active agents used include:
- Vulcanizers – to harden and strengthen rubber products
- Lubricants – to reduce friction and ease movement
- Antioxidants – to eliminate oxygen-filled molecules and prevent further degradation of rubber
- Plasticizers – to soften rubber for improved flexibility and tensile strength
The combination of active agents when producing rubber products can vary drastically, with the type and quantity of each changing depending on the desired outcome. Though some production methods and recipes may be very similar, experimenting with the mix can produce different results, making it essential to carefully manage the measurements and combination of active agents.
Rubbing in the Rubber
Testing different combinations of active agents and suitable latex is an essential part of the production process, in addition to the correct temperature, pressure and other catalyst ingredients. All the steps of rubber product production must collaborate to create the desired outcome, and the active agents play a crucial role in this process.
The use of active agents has improved significantly since they were first introduced, along with the production processes in which to combine them and enhance the quality of rubber products. Rubber has come a long way since man first discovered its unique qualities, and thanks to the constant innovation in active agents and technological advancements, the industry continues to progress.