When the black neoprene rubber made its debut in the early 1930s, the material was primarily used for goods that were necessary to support America’s efforts in World War II. Gaskets, seals, protective pads and belts were all made of neoprene material as a substitute for natural rubber, which was in short in supply, costly and difficult to obtain at the time. It was among the first synthetic rubber materials to be created for the war effort, and it soon appealed to a global audience. Despite the war ending, this new material persisted within the commercial market because of its exceptional qualities. Also this rubber was a by-product of petroleum, which was far more available to the America than its tree derived version made from the “Para Tree.” Neoprene material is also called by its other names, Chloroprene, or CR!
Today, industrial neoprene sheets are still used in a variety of applications. Manufactured as different blends and in a solid or cellular form, this material’s versatility has attributed to its widespread use in various areas. The use of the stretchy material is ubiquitous, and it’s very likely that you use some type of neoprene product in your everyday life. Although its uses may not be apparent to the average person, here are a handful of applications that take advantage of neoprene’s various characteristics:
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About Neoprene Rubber
- Seals and gaskets: As mentioned previously, black neoprene rubber was first used for automotive parts including seals and gaskets. The material offered a moderate resistance to oils and gasoline, a tolerance for a good range of temperatures and a resistance to abrasions. Such characteristics are fitting even today, which is why neoprene sheets are still widely fabricated to need and used in vehicles and machinery.
- Belts: CR was among the very first rubber products to be used as a drive belt or conveyor belt. Virtually every distribution service uses conveyors to move materials. This machinery can be assumed to be the core engine that allows modern firms to cut costs when moving products and raw materials within the economy. You will find CR in many of the belts that drive America’s economy!
- Protective pads and bumpers: The shock-absorbent quality of a thick neoprene product makes it an excellent bumper that can buffer impact from two objects. Neoprene bumpers can be found at boat docks, where neoprene’s shock absorbing ability along with its resistance to salt water and abrasions, is needed.
- Soundproofing: The neoprene material can effectively reduce vibrations; thus, it can be used to dampen sound. Professional recording studios use the material to cut-off sound by throwing neoprene isolation pads under unruly equipment or by even padding an entire room. You may also find neoprene padding door frames which serve as a medium to reduce sound and cushion the door from the frame. This is a crucial quality needed in soundproofing areas because of the crisp, clean sound that is desired.
- Combat-related equipment: Chloroprene is an often cited elastomer in Military specifications. For this reason, the material is used in combat gear that may be subjected to harsh conditions. The light weight and mechanical strength of the neoprene material further increase its usefulness.
- Household items: Revered for its increased durability, this material has become a commonly used material in remote controls, tablet holders, and even laptop sleeves. Unknowingly, CR is found in various items around your house! This recent consumption of this product can be attributed to its cost-effectiveness and resilient nature.
- Athletic supports and braces: The flexibility of chloroprene is a useful trait that makes it appropriate to wear as an accessory, like athletic supports and braces. The material is durable enough to withstand every day use while maintaining its integrity and also offering moderate insulation. The foamy sleeves for laptops take advantage of CR’s characteristics just as athletic supports do. Generally you will see thick neoprene sheets used as protective gear in sporting goods!
- Hoses: Exhibiting resistance to various oils and chemicals, this product does well when used for hosing applications. It will help ensure that the material does not break down when exposed to harsh chemicals, and provides water resistance as well.
- House cleaning gloves: As an alternative to latex, many manufactures have turned to CR for a more protective material. With increased durability and chemical resistance, this material is the ideal solution for cleaning gloves. They will help protect hands from harmful cleaning chemicals such as ammonium, while enduring the abrasive conditions. They are also a more eco-friendly and cost-effective investment because these superior gloves will outlast their competitors.
Uses for the black neoprene rubber can go on and on. The flexibility of neoprene material combined with the numerous resistances and shock-absorbing ability is what makes neoprene sheets a ‘rubber of all trades.’ Used in areas such as automobile gasketing to household cleaning gloves, this neoprene product has proved useful in insurmountable ways. Although it may have started as an alternative resource in World War II, this valuable material will not be easily replaced in the modern day. Keeping all these great features in mind, the value of neoprene sheets only increases its value as one of the most versatile and accessible synthetic rubbers.