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Published on July 21, 2009


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Date Published July 21, 2009

The development of latex “products” involves 1/ (chemistry) development and (mechanical) laboratory characterization, 2/(mechanical) design, analysis, and shape optimization, beside validation testing and correlation to reality, and 3/ multi-disciplinary processing (involving chemists, engineers, and tool and machinery builders). Such broadly itemized ingredients to “latex product development” need to be brought to a fine economical equilibrium that meets customer specifications but often times lack full understanding (even at the customer level, and even after decades of production and service). The reasons: The intricacy of latex materials (as in hyper- and visco-elasticity), variations in the usage of products (a latex glove for instance ought to fit different size hands and be put on differently), to name but a major element of either material or design nature besides manufacturing challenges. Still, with the advent of better testing and simulation tools, engineers continue to aim at replicating such complex behaviors of latex products (and note that an end-customer does not buy latex but a latex product) in an accelerated fashion in the laboratory (by adding “stress” as in stretch, heat, fluids, to normal usage) then on a computer (using Finite Element Analysis and Computational Fluid Dynamics). In short, bringing a latex product to market relies on a multi-disciplinary team-effort, as explained in this paper through practical applications (of the early development or troubleshooting nature) looked after at WIDL on behalf of various Tier Suppliers and OEMs in many industry sectors. 
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