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email info@rubberbands.co.uk

 

Rubber Band Specialists                  

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to some of the frequent questions we are asked. 

Q: Where does rubber come from ?
A: Natural rubber is extracted from a tree called "Hevea brasiliensis" which originated in the Amazon rain forests. As early as 1876, H.A. Wickham brought seeds of the Hevea tree from Brazil to Kew Gardens near London. After successfully cultivating these, these were then distributed to India, Ceylon and British Malaya. The actual birth of regular rubber planting dates from that period.

The tree takes around 5 years to grow from a seedling to maturity, or a point that it can start to produce rubber. It has an economic life of about 25 to 30 years.


Q: Where is rubber grown ?
A: Basically in areas 15% north and south of the equator. Countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, India, China and Brazil. All these countries have high temperatures, rainfall and humidity at low altitude.

Recent developments of new breed varieties can be grown in areas 20% north of the equator.


Q: Who are the largest producers ?
A: Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia account for about 75% of the world production.


Q: How is rubber collected ?
A: Rubber is extracted in the form of latex, a white, milky fluid which is found in the inner layers of the bark of the trees, using a method known as "tapping". This involves paring away the outer bark to a depth of about 2mm in a series of spiral cuts using a special knife.

The latex then bleeds from the cut and trickles into a collecting cup for a period of in excess of several hours, until it begins to coagulate and the flow ceases. Tappers sometimes tap up to 500 trees per day.


Q: How are Rubber Bands made ?
A:  Below are the steps followed

1) Mixing & Compounding

The rubber is mixed with various chemicals in required proportions depending on rubber content. This compounded mixture is then strained to ensure that there are no extraneous materials in compounded material.

2) Extrusion

The compounded rubber is then put into an extrusion machine. This extrudes the rubber into tubing form using specific die heads to achieve a required diameter and wall thickness. The tubing is then cut into lengths and put onto mandrels of the same size / diameter.

3) Curing

The tubing now on mandrels is put into an autoclave (oven) to ensure tubing reaches it's set form. The tubing is then blown off the mandrels for passing to the cutting area.

4) Cutting

The tubing is then fed into rotary cutters to cut into designated cut widths of rubber bands.

5) Packing

These cut bands are then packed to conform to customers designated specification.