Although the term latex is most commonly associated with the natural substance harvested from rubber trees, there are also many synthetic polymer dispersions which also fall into this category. All latex contains small polymer particles which are dispersed in liquid (usually water). Latices can be mixed in with other substances to produce liquid products like coatings and paints, they can be used to make solid products through basic processing and drying, e.g. in dipped goods like latex gloves or they can be further vulcanised to produce sturdier solid products like tyres. Even though latices have been in use for hundreds of years there is still plenty of development work going on today, particularly with water-based synthetic latex in order to avoid the use of solvents. Additionally, the issue of allergies to natural latex drives research into alternative products.
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