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How Latex Gloves Are Made

Mar 07 2017, 10:06 AM

Latex gloves are one of the key items available on the Brosch Direct site, they are one of the most important supplies required by a number of different industries, including the medical industry. Their purpose is to keep both the wearer and the item/person they are dealing with clean and safe from infections or harmful substances. Now, you may work with latex gloves on a daily basis or they might feature in your first aid kit, but how much do you really know about them?

What exactly is latex?

You may be surprised to find out that latex actually does ‘grow on trees’ – Hevea brasilienesis rubber trees to be precise. When a rubber tree has its bark shaved it naturally oozes a milky white sap that is then used to create latex. As the sap naturally hardens on exposure to air when it is released from the tree, it is treated to keep it in the liquid state so that it can be used. Hevea trees mature at five to seven years of age and can be tapped for up to 30 years. Rubber yields range around a ton per acre (2.5 tons per ha) on the larger plantations and trees are often are rested for a period after heavy tapping. More than 90% of natural latex comes from Asia in particular Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, India and Sri Lanka.

Creating the glove

At the factory the latex liquid is further treated with chemicals in a process called ‘compounding’. Compounding stabilises and strengthens the latex ready for the dipping process. During the dipping process, clean ceramic hand shaped formers are firstly dipped into a coagulant tank which has two functions:

The hand former is then dipped into the latex solution after-which the latex is cured and starts to gel. Excess protein is removed by dipping the glove formers into water tanks (leaching), this is then followed by bead rolling. Finally the gloves enter the vulcanisation process which uses heat to cross link the polymer chains giving the film elasticity and improving strength. Depending on the finish of the glove it may undergo further processing (for instance chlorinated, double chlorinated, polymer coated, aloe treated). The gloves are stripped from the formers and the formers cleaned ready for the next dipping cycle.

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