Fits Like a Glove: Particle Characterization for Latex Glove Production

There are many factors affecting the chemical and mechanical properties of latex gloves, e.g. the type of mold, the latex compound, the dipping parameters, as well as the zeta potential and the particle size of latex particles. In the present application report we use zeta potential measurements and two different particle sizing techniques (dynamic light scattering and laser diffraction) to characterize synthetic latex dispersions as well as a vulcanization accelerator.

Protective and medical latex gloves are made of rubber latex and are resistant to chemicals as well as microorganisms without foregoing sensitiveness for accurate working. The raw material for natural rubber latex (NRL) is obtained from the sap of the rubber tree Hevea brasiliensis. NRL is still used for a wide range of products such as tires, even though 60 % of global demand today is covered by synthetic rubber. In the past, NRL also used to be the main material for the production of medical and protective gloves, but is nowadays increasingly replaced by synthetic latex. These materials, such as synthetic polyisoprene, chloroprene or NBR (nitrile) latex, are produced on the basis of petrochemical raw materials. Although the main reason for the replacement of NRL for gloves manufacturing is to avert allergic reactions to rubber, which are triggered by the allergenic protein Hev b, modern synthetic latex also offers better chemical resistance and often superior wearing comfort compared to natural rubber.

Natural as well as synthetic latex raw material has to be processed in order to improve the quality of the final product, which is manufactured by the so-called “coagulant dip process”. 

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