If you’ve ever zipped into a wetsuit you will be all too familiar with the incredible waterproof properties of neoprene. However, this versatile synthetic rubber comes in a wide range of different forms and is notable for its excellent tear strength, resistance to environmental factors and impressive thermal stability. Here, TRP Polymer solutions answers all your most frequently asked questions about neoprene rubber.
Neoprene is a synthetic rubber that is developed via the polymerisation of chloroprene and is sold either as solid rubber or in latex form. It was developed in 1930 by a scientist at DuPont following the rising demand – and therefore price – of natural rubber during the 1920s. It quickly became a staple material in a wide range of industrial products of the era, including car engines and telephone wire.
Neoprene rubber offers excellent resistance to oils, solvents, ozone, UV and oxidation. This versatile rubber is also durable, tear resistant, and adheres to metals and fabrics. Neoprene rubber exhibits good thermal stability and is capable of operating in temperatures ranging from -40 °C to 120 °C. On the downside, neoprene rubber is not universally chemical resistant and struggles with esters, ketones, oxidizing acids and hydrocarbons.
The scientific name for neoprene rubber is polychloroprene. During the manufacturing process, a chemical reaction involving chloroprene creates polychloroprene chips. These are subsequently melted, mixed with carbon pigments and foaming agents, and then baked in an oven until the material expands. The resulting neoprene rubber is then cut into neoprene sheets in a wide range of different thicknesses.
Neoprene’s versatility has seen it employed widely applied across various industries and applications. Neoprene’s flame resistant properties mean it is regularly used in weather stripping for fire doors, as well as gloves and face masks. Neoprene rubber is also widely used as a hose and gasket material owing to its slower rate of degradation compared to natural rubber. But perhaps the most well-known use of neoprene rubber is in wetsuits and scuba gear, thanks to its superlative waterproofing and insulation properties.
Neoprene is a family of rubbers that come in a range of shore hardnesses from 40 to 95. Neoprene rubber is categorised as a Shore A Hardness rubber, which means it can range in hardness from very soft and flexible to medium and somewhat flexible or hard with almost no flexibility at all. Soft neoprene is used in applications requiring a pliable material, while hard neoprene is preferred wherever a rigid material is needed.
TRP Polymer Solutions is an industry-leading manufacturer of high-performance neoprene rubber sealing components. We develop a comprehensive selection of sealing products from every type of polymer material imaginable, including neoprene rubber, and our polymerists can work closely with you to develop high-performance sealing solutions that meet your specific requirements.