There are various synthetic rubber types, such as Santoprene and Neoprene. Both compounds have similar and differing components and characteristics. The contrasting properties of these synthetic elastomers make each product distinctive. In other words, depending on your purpose, Santoprene material may be better for certain applications than Neoprene (thermoset elastomers) and vice versa.
Synthetic rubbers have a long-standing history in the United States and other parts of the world. According to the deceased chemist, Ralph Wolf, nothing has become as universal and indispensible as synthetic rubber. It is arguably one of the most important creation of man when the progress of modern civilization was still dependent on the volatility of natural rubber supply (http://www.icis.com/Articles/2008/05/12/9122056/history-of-the-synthetic-rubber-industry.html).
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Synthetic Rubber Types - Santoprene and Neoprene
After its introduction to Europe in 1496, synthetic elastomers have drastically evolved and revolutionized how the world utilized rubber. Before synthetic rubber types were developed, the world relied heavily on natural rubber. Although the developments of synthetic elastomers can be traced back to the late 1800s, it was not until World War II that the production of artificial rubber was truly propelled forward. During World War II, Japan ascertained control of Malaysia’s and the Dutch East Indie’s natural rubber production. As a result, natural rubber resources were limited in certain countries, like the United Sates. Since elastomer played an essential role in U.S. war machinery, the United States launched a massive effort to develop artificial rubber (http://sciencenetlinks.com/lessons/inventions-of-necessity-synthetic-rubber/). However, it was not only the United States that conducted development research on synthetic elastomers, but other countries as well.
Two synthetic rubber types are Santoprene and Neoprene. Santoprene material is produced by cross-linking EPDM rubber and polypropylene (plastic). The end result is a thermoplastic elastomer substance. On the other hand, Neoprene belongs to a family of thermoset elastomers. Unlike thermoplastic elastomers, thermoset elastomers will chemically degrade instead of melting when heated. The following below are characteristics that make Santoprene and Neoprene (respectively) unique:
- Santoprene: Manufactured in the same way most plastics are produced. Easy processing which helps reduce production costs
- Neoprene: Manufactured in the same way other rubbers are produced. Comparatively good production costs
- Santoprene: Santoprene material can withstand extreme temperatures without hardening or cracking. The temperature range of Santoprene is actually one the reasons why manufacturers prefer this elastomer to other rubbers. Temperature ranges include: -50 degrees to +275 degrees Fahrenheit (continuous) and -74 degrees to +300 degrees Fahrenheit (intermittent).
- Neoprene: These thermoset elastomers are not the best rubbers to use for high temperatures due to its average heat aging resistance.
- Santoprene: High-performance rubber with good fatigue-resistance.
- Neoprene: Has moderately good abrasion resistance in dynamic applications such as shock-absorborption.
Flexibility and Durability
- Santoprene: Fairly good chemical resistance that is similar to neoprene, however, there are certain chemicals that differ. For example, in chemicals such as sulfuric acid and pyridine, Santoprene is barely affected, while neoprene can be severely damaged. With chemicals such as sodium chloride and zinc chloride, both products excel and are highly resistant.
- Neoprene: These two elastomers are known to have very similar chemical resistance. Neoprene has good resistance to oil and grease, but does very poorly with fuel resistance (http://www.elderrubber.com/material.htm).
- Santoprene: Resistant to weather, ozone, and anything in the atmosphere that may cause this elastomer to harden with age.
- Neoprene: Similar to Santoprene in that it is resistant to ozone and oxidation.
- Santoprene: Known to have the same flexibility and durability as natural rubber, but with the ability to last longer in harsher temperatures.
- Neoprene: Good tensile strength and moderate flexibility.
- Santoprene: Fully recyclable. During the manufacturing process, a Santoprene distributor or manufacturer can take the scrap material and immediately reclaim or recycle the scraps. Also, after a Santoprene product is used, the material can be recycled and remanufactured into other products.
- Neoprene: Can be recycled in a way that other rubbers are recycled and reclaimed.
As you can see, both synthetic elastomers have similarities and differences. However, it is the different characteristics that make each material (respectively) unique. Furthermore, it is the contrasting qualities that make Neoprene or Santoprene preferred over the other in certain applications.
Santoprene material is used in the following industries: automotive, building and construction, electrical, household appliances, and health care. Gaskets, window and oven seals, and knife handles are a few of the applications that Santoprene is used for. Neoprene thermoset elastomers are used in sound studios, construction sites, industrial gasketing, and pet car flooring.
These are two of the best synthetic rubber types. As the world continues to find alternative options for depleting natural resources, such as natural rubber, synthetic elastomers will continue to develop and influence how we will use elastomers in the future.