Latex as an alter­na­ti­ve to foam

Nowa­days, latex has again beco­me popu­lar as an alter­na­ti­ve to con­ven­tio­nal foam. Twen­ty years ago, this mate­ri­al had almost com­ple­te­ly dis­ap­peared from the mar­ket due to a fier­ce pri­ce batt­le asso­cia­ted with mate­ri­al savings and con­stant­ly wor­sening pro­duct qua­li­ty. Even today, many com­pa­nies that fabri­ca­te com­fort items are reluc­tant to using this mate­ri­al. In the last cou­ple of years, howe­ver, the­re has been a lot of move­ment on the mar­ket with respect to latex who­se image has been slow­ly impro­ving. As a result, it is again being used in a num­ber of com­fort pro­ducts.

Pro­duc­tion of latex (Tal­a­lay latex and Dun­lop latex)

Two dif­fe­rent types of latex can be distin­gu­is­hed: (con­ven­tio­nal) Dun­lop latex and Tal­a­lay latex. The lat­ter requi­res a sophisti­ca­ted pro­duc­tion pro­cess but pro­vi­des unri­val­led com­fort cha­rac­te­ristics. To pro­du­ce this mate­ri­al, a latex blend is cast into a vacu­um mould expo­sed to below-zero tem­pe­ra­tures. As a result, the mate­ri­al is even­ly spread across the mould whilst retai­ning its uni­form cell struc­tu­re. The mould is then hea­ted, and vul­ca­ni­sa­ti­on starts. This pro­cess cross-links long-chain rub­ber mole­cu­les to lend a “soft” feel and unri­val­led breat­ha­bi­li­ty to the mate­ri­al. By con­trast, the Dun­lop latex pro­duc­tion pro­cess does not use a vacu­um or coo­led cas­ting mould, which is why the cell struc­tu­re is more clo­sed. Eit­her of the­se latex mate­ri­als is available as a blend of syn­the­tic and natu­ral rub­ber or as a 100% natu­ral rub­ber varie­ty.

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