Natural rubber, also called India rubber or caoutchouc, as initially produced, consists of polymers of the organic compound isoprene, with minor impurities of other organic compounds plus water. Forms of polyisoprene that are used as natural rubbers are classified as elastomers. Currently, rubber is harvested mainly in the form of the latex from certain trees. The latex is a sticky, milky colloid drawn off by making incisions into the bark and collecting the fluid in vessels in a process called "tapping". The latex then is refined into rubber ready for commercial processing. Natural rubber is used extensively in many applications and products, either alone or in combination with other materials. In most of its useful forms, it has a large stretch ratio and high resilience, and is extremely waterproof. Methods for processing rubber include mastication and various operations like mixing, calendering, extrusion, all processes being essential to bring crude rubber into a state suitable for shaping the final product. The former breaks down the polymer chains, and lowers their molecular mass so that viscosity is low enough for further processing. After this has been achieved, various additions can be made to the material ready for cross-linking. Rubber may be masticated on a two-roll mill or in an industrial mixer, which come in different types.
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