The large set of physical, chemical and weathering traits held by a neoprene sheet can be utilized in a number of applications. This synthetic elastomer is specifically engineered to have a broad range of applicability. When you hear the word neoprene, also known as chloroprene or CR rubber, some of the more obscure applications probably won’t come to mind. The multi-functional synthetic rubber is used in many applications in different forms like a neoprene pad, neoprene bumper and neoprene bearing pads for bridges. Although we cannot immediately identify such products, they are ever-present in our daily lives.
For example, the sleeves that cushion and protect laptops and other electronics are one such usage. Or maybe you think of seat covers that stretch over the seats of your cars. For you surfers, did you know that your 4/3 wetsuit is made of chloroprene products? All of these products utilize cellular (or sponge) neoprene. In the case of a wetsuit or most sewn neoprene parts, they are made from a cross-linked fabric that allows the product to be customized and sewn as needed. That being the case, what other applications can neoprene sheet rubber be used for?
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Shock-Absorbent Neoprene Pad is One of Sheet Rubber's Many Uses
A neoprene pad is a sheet of dense CR rubber that is used to isolate and dampen vibrations and noise. Generally, most elastomers possess a shock-absorbing ability due to their molecular structure. Large networks of linked molecules will flex to applied force and rebound once the initial force is removed. This behavior dissipates some of the energy of the initial force. Thus, when vibrations pass through the pad, the strength of the vibrations is reduced. Padding made from chloroprene can be found underneath mechanical equipment and industrial machinery. The padding will protect the floors and the machinery alike, preventing the need for expensive repairs or replacements. They are also used as a “floating floor” in houses and buildings. This serves to demonstrate the versatility of a neoprene sheet.
A neoprene bumper can take many shapes and sizes. The bumper functions to protect two objects from severely damaging each other when colliding or scraping against one another. Once again, chloroprene’s shock-absorbent quality is utilized. A bumper made of neoprene is sometimes preferred over other elastomers depending on the application. For example, mechanical applications utilize neoprene for its moderate resistance to oil and its all-weather resilience. The synthetic rubber bumpers can be found protecting a wall from a swinging doorknob, covering the bottom surface of heavy equipment and even shielding a layer of a car bumper. It can be under the very computer you are working on or under the legs of the chair you are sitting!
Neoprene bearing pads can be found in the structure of concrete bridges. A concrete bridge is made of the bridge deck and its support beams. The bearing is basically a sheet of dense neoprene that is placed between the beams that support the bridge and the substructure. This gives the bridge structure a degree of flex to accommodate any movements from vehicles, excessive weight from cargo and the expansion and contraction of bridge materials. The rubber bearings also reduce vibrations and sounds. In this case the neoprene bearing pads would have to meet AASHTO specifications. AASHTO is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association representing highway and transportation departments in the 50 states. AASHTO serves as a catalyst for excellence in transportation.
We may not see a neoprene pad, neoprene bumper or neoprene bearing pads in plain sight, but they are still significant in our lives. They take part in protecting and padding items (both large and small) that we use on a daily basis. The shock-absorbent quality of CR rubber is just one of its traits that makes it so versatile. That common property, in conjunction with most chloroprene’s many chemical resistances, all-weather resilience and physical properties is utilized in everything from bumpers to bridges. Such applications are yet another testament to the versatility of a common neoprene sheet.