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Ribbed smoked sheets (RSS) production from latex occurs in either

factory-scale facilities (on estates and larger smallholdings) or in tiny
field units (individual smallholdings). Despite its variability in scale, it
always includes the following operations: blending, coagulation,
milling, drying, and finishing. The layout for RSS production (factory-
scale processing) is detailed in the figure below.

Ribbed smoke sheet plant

Latex from various sources is initially collected and blended in a large

latex bulding and blending tank. This blending operation is important
to ensure the production of uniform and consistent rubber. Coagulation
is effected by the addition of coagulants, such as formic or acetic acid.
In factory-scale processing it occurs in coagulation troughs, where
latex is first diluted with water. Individual smallholdings blend and
coagulate their latex in 4-5 litre pans. Milling involves feeding slabs of
coagulum to successive pairs of rollers ("sheeting battery") to produce
sheets of uniform thickness. Appropriately grooved rollers imprint on
each sheet "ribs", which expand the surface area for drying. After
sizing, the sheets are hung on lines and dried in smokehouse at
successively higher temperature ("ribbed smoked sheets"). On
individual smallholdings, sheets are often dried by natural ventilation
("white unsmoked sheets") and sold to a dealer who smokes and
grades them. Blemishes are then removed manually and sheets are
visually graded. They are finally pressed into bales with talc to prevent

The process of making sheet rubber is relatively simple and it is still

commonly used on smallholdings and smaller estates.


Rubber in crepe form is processed from either latex (pale and sole
crepe) or cup lumps, scrap and poor quality sheet rubber (remilled
crepes). The traditional method of rubber processing to produce crepe
rubber is similar to that for sheet rubber. An important additional step
in making crepe rubber is the removal of yellow carotenoid pigments in
the latex. In addition, the latex is coagulated by "fractional"
coagulation: the first fraction is the unstable, yellow fraction processed
into off-colour pale crepe of relatively low grade; the remaining latex is
a wither material. The coagulum formed is then washed and fed to
pairs of rollers rotating at different speeds, which manufacture the
rubber into thin crepes. The crepes are dried in hot drying chambers or
tunnels or on drying floors.

[12] "Preparation of Plantation Rubber," Morgan, 1913, chapters xii.

and xiii.

With a view to determining to what degree the drying of crepe rubber

was hastened by the extent to which the rubber was rolled,
experiments were made. It was hoped, also, that some idea would be
gained of the particular stage in crepe rolling which had the greatest
effect upon the rate of drying. In preparing crepe in the estate in the
ordinary way the coagulum is passed through three sets of rollers, and
the stages may be described as:

(1) Rough rolling.

(2) Medium rolling.

(3) Smooth rolling.

In the first the coagulum is broken down by passing through the

machines until a thick rough crepe is formed. This passes to the
intermediate rollers, where it is worked down to a medium crepe. The
rubber finally goes to the smooth running at approximately even
speeds. Passing through these a number of times it emerges as a thin
uniform crepe, free from "lumpiness" and free from holes, which should
dry in from ten to twelve days.

In the experiment the rubber was passed through the machines with
varying frequency, the number of times in each machine being
progressively increased, while the working on the other machines
remained constant.

It was determined that the rate of drying was affected only by the
extent to which the crepe was worked in the smooth rolls. The less
often the rubber passed through these rolls, the slower the rate of
drying. Beyond a limit in the other direction, increased rolling did not
reduce the period of drying. It follows, therefore, that crepes which
have a good thin finish should dry in a minimum period.


WHEN DOES AIR-DRYING TAKE PLACE?--Experiments[13] were

conducted with a view to discovering, if possible, the rate at which
crepe rubber dries, and the extent of drying during the night under
weather conditions such as prevail ordinarily in Malaya. It is to be
remembered that, during the day, most drying-houses are fairly open
and that the temperature ranges from about 88 deg. F. in the lower
rooms to over 100 deg. in the upper rooms (near the roof) when the
sun shines. At night, however, there is usually a decided drop in the
temperature, and unless it is a very clear night the air is generally
saturated with moisture. In addition the drying-house is closed as
thoroughly as possible, and we should expect the atmosphere of the
house to be laden with moisture from the wet and drying rubber. It
would be a just inference, therefore, that the rate of drying during the
night would be much less than the rate of drying during the day, and
the results of experiments confirm this very fully. One was hardly
prepared, however, to find that, under certain circumstances and at a
certain stage, the amount of drying is nil; not only so, but it was found
under certain conditions that the amount of drying which took place
was negative--_i.e._, the rubber weighed slightly more when taken out
in the morning than it had weighed the previous afternoon.
Two different types of sheets are distinguished:
ADS (air dried sheets)
Air dried sheets are less common. They have an appearance similar
to RSS (ribbed smoked sheets), but are more transparent, as they
are manufactured in smoke-free rooms.

RSS (ribbed smoked sheets) (see Figure 1)

The fresh latex is diluted to a rubber content of 15 - 16% and
coagulated in coagulation tanks using formic acid or acetic acid.
Lumps of coagulum are formed after the acid has acted for 3-4
hours. After milling and washing, sheets between 2.5 and 3.5 mm
thick, 24 cm wide and 90 or 135 cm in length are produced. The final
mill is an embossed mill, which gives the sheets their ribbed
structure. Since these rubber sheets are not washed as intensively as
crepes, they contain a higher proportion of serum constituents which
encourage mold and rotting. For this reason, the sheets undergo an
additional preservation process in which they are smoked in
smokehouses. The sheets are hung in the smokehouses and dried for
a week at temperatures up to 60°C. The smoke resulting from
burning Hevea (rubber tree) wood and other organic materials such
as coconut husks preserves the sheets. The specific smell of these
sheets is caused by the materials used to produce the smoke. The
sheets are pressed into bales and wrapped in protective sheets. The
surface is protected from oxidation by application of a bale coating
solution and talcum.