Accelerators in Rubber Surgical Gloves

March 19, 2016

Accelerators in Rubber Surgical Gloves

By Milt Hinsch



The first Goodyear rubber surgical gloves made for Dr. Halsted and his nurse Carolyn Hampton in 1894 and subsequent rubber surgical gloves were expensive, thick, reusable, reprocessed, resterilized and looked more like rubber housekeeping gloves. In 1961, accelerators enabled manufacturing of the first, thin, disposable gloves.[1]

With lower manufacturing and material costs, surgical gloves were less expensive and could be disposable. Thinner surgical gloves were also more comfortable and provided greater tactile sensitivity. In addition, accelerators provided faster and better crosslinking of the isoprene molecules than other sulfur-containing compounds, which improved elasticity, strength and stabilized the rubber for long-term glove storage.

Today, rubber accelerators are used in latex (NRL) and synthetic rubber surgical gloves (Neoprene/polychloroprene and polyisoprene). Recently introduced synthetic rubber gloves designated as ‘made without typical rubber accelerators’ use accelerators that dissociate during vulcanization.

Rubber accelerators typically used to manufacture natural (NRL)  and synthetic (PI, Polychloroprene) rubber surgical gloves:  


[1] US Medical Glove Timeline by Regent Medical/Mölnlycke Health Care