The Guide to Neoprene Rubber
If you’ve ever owned a wetsuit, yoga mat or laptop sleeve, you’re probably already familiar with neoprene. This versatile rubber material has a wide range of applications, from athletic gear to industrial seals.
In this guide, we’ll break down exactly what neoprene is, how it’s made, its properties, and what it can be used for.
What is neoprene?
First invented in the 1930s by the chemical company DuPont, neoprene is a synthetic rubber made from a type of polymer called chloroprene, which is derived from saltwater. This polymer is then processed into a rubber-like material that can be moulded and shaped into various forms.
How to make neoprene?
Making neoprene involves several steps. First, the chloroprene polymer is mixed with other ingredients, such as carbon black, accelerators, and sulphur which is then heated and processed to create a raw rubber material.
Then, the raw rubber is washed and dried to remove any impurities and then rolled out into sheets which are cut into the desired shape and size.
Finally, the neoprene is vulcanised using heat and pressure. This process creates a strong, durable material that’s resistant to heat, water, and chemicals!
What are the properties of neoprene?
Neoprene has a number of properties that make it a popular choice for a wide range of applications. These properties include:
Durability: Neoprene is a very strong and resilient material that can withstand high amounts of wear and tear. It’s resistant to punctures, tears, and abrasions, making it ideal for use in products like wetsuits and industrial gaskets.
Flexibility: Neoprene is very flexible and can be moulded and shaped into various forms. It’s also very elastic, meaning it can stretch and return to its original shape without losing its strength, a key benefit of the material.
Water resistance: Neoprene is very resistant to water and moisture, making it ideal for use in wet environments. You’ll find a lot of products like wetsuits and diving gear are made of neoprene, as well as in industrial applications where water resistance is important.
Chemical resistance: Neoprene is resistant to a wide range of chemicals, including oils, acids, and solvents. This makes it a popular choice for use in industrial seals and gaskets.
Temperature resistance: Neoprene can withstand a wide range of temperatures, from -40°C to 121°C, making it ideal for use in products like oven mitts and automotive parts.
What is neoprene used for?
Neoprene has a wide range of applications, thanks to its many useful properties. Some of the most common uses for neoprene include:
Athletic wear: Neoprene is often used in wetsuits, diving gear, and other athletic apparel due to its flexibility and water resistance.
Industrial seals and gaskets: Because of their resistance to chemicals and strong durability, neoprene is often used to create seals and gaskets for industrial applications.
Automotive parts: You’ll find neoprene in a variety of automotive parts, like hoses and belts because of its temperature resistance and durability.
Protection: Neoprene is frequently used to create cases and sleeves for electronic laptops and smartphones, thanks to its water resistance and shock absorption which makes it ideal for use in these products.
Is neoprene waterproof?
As you may have figured out already, neoprene is highly water-resistant! However, despite it being highly water-resistant, it’s not completely waterproof, and over time water can penetrate the material and cause it to break down; especially if exposed to harsh environmental conditions.
That said, neoprene is still an excellent choice for products that need to be water-resistant, such as athletic gear and electronics cases. It can also be treated with additional coatings or finishes to enhance its water-resistant properties!
Is neoprene oil resistant?
Neoprene is also very resistant to oils and other petroleum-based products. It’s often used in industrial applications, such as seals and gaskets, where it needs to withstand exposure to oils and other chemicals.
Its resistance to oils comes from its chemical composition, as the polymer it’s made from has a high resistance to petroleum-based chemicals.
Neoprene temperature range
Neoprene can withstand a wide range of temperatures. Its temperature range typically falls between -40°C and 121°C, although some types of neoprene may have slightly different temperature limits.
While neoprene can withstand high temperatures, it may break down over time if it’s exposed to extreme temperatures for long periods of time. Additionally, some types of neoprene may be more sensitive to temperature changes than others, so it’s important to choose the right type of neoprene for your specific application.
Neoprene gaskets and seals
Neoprene is a popular choice for creating gaskets in industrial settings. Gaskets are used to create a seal between two surfaces, preventing leakage of fluids or gases, and the polymer’s durability and chemical resistance make it an ideal choice for gasket applications.
Neoprene gaskets can also be custom-designed to fit the specific needs of the application. They can be cut to any shape or size and can be made with different thicknesses and densities to provide the right level of compression and sealing.
Neoprene is also commonly used for creating seals, used to prevent leakage or contamination of fluids or gases in industrial settings. Neoprene’s water resistance and chemical resistance make it an ideal choice for creating seals in wet or harsh environments.
Like gaskets, neoprene seals can be custom-designed to fit the specific needs of your application. They can be made with different thicknesses and densities to provide the right level of compression and sealing.
Neoprene is a versatile and durable material that has a wide range of applications in various industries. Its water resistance, chemical resistance, and temperature resistance make it an ideal choice for use in athletic gear, industrial seals and gaskets, automotive parts, and electronics cases. Whether you need a water-resistant wetsuit or a chemical-resistant gasket, neoprene is a material that can get the job done.
At Checkmate, we work with a wide range of rubber materials, designing and manufacturing bespoke products for the industrial, defence and marine industries. From dunnage bags, to air-landing cushions, get in touch to discuss your next project.