Falling rubber price have been a persistent major problem for rubber farmers. In Thailand, natural rubber has been processed into various commercial products, such as tyres, gloves, and mattresses. Dr. Warunee Ariyawiriyanan, researcher from the Faculty of Engineering, Rajamangala University of Technology Thanyaburi, used natural rubber as one of the main ingredients in the production of “outdoor rubber floor tiles”.
“I came up with this idea after the fall of rubber price has started to create a significant impact on rubber farmers, so that there’s an additional option to process natural rubber into a commerical product,” said Dr. Warunee, adding that the rubber floor tiles can be used in an outdoor area and are less costly than ceramic tiles.
“These outdoor rubber tiles are made from a rubber composite, which contains leftover rubberwood saw dust from the furniture industry and natural rubber. My research results suggest that the best formula for 25x25x25cm rubber tiles contains more than 50% saw dust,” she said.
Each square tile features an elaborate jigsaw-like relief pattern, is receptive to sunlight, durable for outdoor use, and not easily chipped or broken like ceramic tiles, due to the elasticity of rubber.
The formula which contains more than 50% saw dust is viable for commercial production, because the use of saw dust, which is a leftover material from the industrial process, helps to lower the production cost. In addition, the researcher extended the study to find the best formula for glazing the tiles, in order to enhance their durability against the outdoor climate. It is recommended to use 16 tiles per one squaremeter of outdoor area. “These anti-slip tiles are easy to install and can be used to create walkways or recreation areas. Results from the QUV accelerated weathering test, at cycle 7, showed that glazed tiles double the tensile strength (from 2.5 MPa to 5.1 MPa) and higher modulus value (from 83.5MPa to 154.2 Mpa),” she said.
Dr. Warunee’s “outdoor rubber tiles” is not yet available in the market. For more information on using the product for a commercial purpose, contact Dr. Warunee at 080 043 5178 (mobile phone) or website HYPERLINK “http://www.rmutt.ac.th/”www.rmutt.ac.th