Rubber gloves are used in many industries for protecting skin against physical and chemical injuries as well as against infection by viruses and bacteria. Uses are many, and according to Allied Market Research, the disposable medical gloves market alone is estimated to reach 8 billion dollars by 2025.
Natural rubber gloves are manufactured using dipping technology, where ceramic or metal formers that mimic the shape of a hand are dipped in liquid latex, and then dried. The process has many variations, and production is done either in batches or continuously.
As with all protective products, quality and reliability are important, and manufacturing plays a big part. During the production, first the molds or formers and then the product passes a series of baths. Washing the molds aims at removing any residue from the previous batch as even the smallest contaminant could create holes in the final product. After thorough washing, the mold is dipped into a chemical bath to create a thin film where the rubber will adhere and then the product is created by dipping to rubber bath. Throughout the production, the K-PATENTS® Process Refractometer PR-43-G products provide the very important bath concentration stability to ensure safe and even quality product. The measurement is also useful for indicating when adjustments for the baths are needed, reducing the consumption of raw materials and minimizing operating costs.
Synthetic rubber gloves made for example from nitrile, vinyl and synthetic polyisoprene are manufactured in a similar way, but the process starts with the creation of the synthetic material. In this process step, K-PATENTS® process refractometers can monitor the reaction and the degree of the polymerization.
Application Note ref. 11.03.01 Rubber Gloves Manufacturing Process (PDF)