Gutta Percha

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Infobox on Gutta Percha
Example of Gutta Percha
Gutta Percha.jpg
Facts
Origin See text
Stowage factor (in m3/t) 2,4 m3/t (bags/cases)
Humidity / moisture -
Ventilation -
Risk factors See text

Description

Gutta-percha is a genus of tropical trees native to Southeast Asia and northern Australasia, from Taiwan south to the Malay Peninsula and east to the Solomon Islands. The same term is used to refer to an inelastic natural latex produced from the sap of these trees, particularly from the species Palaquium gutta. Chemically, gutta-percha is a polyterpene, a polymer of isoprene, or polyisoprene, specifically. Heavy use of gutta-percha during the second half of the nineteenth century, particularly as insulation for underwater telegraph cables, led to unsustainable harvesting and a collapse of the supply.

Application

Electronics
Gutta-percha latex is biologically inert, resilient, and is a good electrical insulator with a high dielectric strength. The wood of many species is also valuable.

Dentistry
The same bioinertness that made it suitable for marine cables also means it does not readily react within the human body. It is consequently used in a variety of surgical devices and for dental applications during root canal therapy. It is the predominant material used to obturate, or fill the empty space inside the root of a tooth after it has undergone endodontic therapy. Its physical and chemical properties, including but not limited to its inertness and biocompatibility, melting point, ductility and malleability, afford it an important role in the field of endodontics.

Other uses
In the mid-19th century, gutta-percha was also used to make furniture.

Shipment / Storage / Risk factors

Shipped in bags or cases. Is stiff, hard and inelastic when cold. Softens to mouldable condition at 60°C and melts at 100°C. Insoluble in water, essentially soluble in carbon disulphide, petroleum ether and chloroform. It can be vulcanised with sulphur.

Subject to loss in weight due to drying out.