Neoprene rubber was the first oil- and gas-resistant synthetic rubber invented. Initially used to be a more durable replacement for natural rubber, neoprene material is now a widespread commodity, used in many sectors, including the industrial and automotive industries. As an elastomer, neoprene has a high tensile strength and low compression set, making it stretchable and compressible without becoming damaged or permanently disfigured. Smooth neoprene is also used for insulated fabrics and oil- and gas-resistant gaskets and seals. Additionally, while neoprene products may not be biodegradable, they can be repurposed to produce other durable rubber products. Through reusing rubber, synthetic rubbers that are non-biodegradable avoid becoming parts of landfills. In this article, we’ll help you learn all about neoprene, answering the following questions:
• Is neoprene natural rubber?
• What is another name for neoprene?
• Is neoprene an elastomer material?
• Is neoprene a good material?
• Is neoprene a synthetic fiber?
• What is in neoprene rubber?
• Is neoprene rubber gas resistant?
• Is neoprene rubber biodegradable?
• Is neoprene eco-friendly?
Is Neoprene Natural Rubber?
Neoprene is not natural rubber; neoprene is a synthetic rubber made using petroleum-derived compounds. Neoprene is produced via the polymerization of chloroprene (CR). Also known by its scientific name, polychloroprene, neoprene rubber possesses a chemical formula (C4H5Cl). This formula represents the polymerization of the monomer chloroprene into the polychloroprene—the polymer of neoprene materials. Neoprene rubber, like natural rubbers, is flexible and resistant to most physically-damaging forces, such as abrasions and impacts. However, neoprene is best and most commonly known for its weather- and heat-resistance. When it comes materials like neoprene, durometer is important. Neoprene rubber is a tough material whose hardness can be measured using a durometer. A durometer is a hardness-measuring device, and it also refers to the level of hardness of a material. In this case, solid neoprene is measured by the Shore A Scale, which measures the hardness of soft and flexible plastics and rubbers. Commercial-grade solid neoprene is offered in durometers ranging from 45A to 80A. When reading these measurements, know that the neoprene hardness increases as the numbers climb higher. So, for example, 40-durometer neoprene is softer than 50-durometer neoprene, and 80-durometer neoprene is harder than 60-durometer neoprene.
What Is Another Name for Neoprene?
Other names for neoprene include polychloroprene, chloroprene rubber, CR-grade rubber, and CR rubber. These names largely reflect the neoprene chemical composition that we noted earlier. Neoprene rubber is available in solid neoprene sheets and neoprene custom-cuts or as a foam neoprene material. Foam neoprene material is much less dense than solid neoprene rubber and is available in open- and closed-cell forms. The production of open- and closed-cell neoprene rubber introduces a foaming agent that results in a sponge-like rubber with air pockets throughout its composition. As their names suggest, an open-cell neoprene sheet is more porous than a closed-cell neoprene sheet. The fact that open-cell neoprene foam is more porous makes it easier for moisture to permeate the material. Closed-cell neoprene sponge rubber provides better moisture-resistance and cushioning with its more solid structure. Because (CR) neoprene is a synthetic rubber, it is stronger and more resilient than natural rubbers due to the chlorine found in its composition. Chlorine gives neoprene rubber better resistance to heat, oils, and outdoor environmental factors, such as direct sunlight and ozone. Originally used as an oil-resistant replacement for natural rubber, neoprene rubber is now used as an all-purpose rubber. It possesses many additional benefits that natural rubber lacks, making neoprene applicable to a wider set of situations.
Is Neoprene an Elastomer Material?
Neoprene is an elastomer due to its ability to be stretched out and return to its original shape without permanent indentation or disfiguration. According to Britannica, an elastomer is “any rubbery material composed of long, chainlike molecules, or polymers, that are capable of recovering their original shape after being stretched to great lengths.” Elastomers are well known for their resilience to breaking or tearing under extreme strain or pressure. Common applications where neoprene’s elastomeric qualities are utilized are athletic wraps and braces—these objects are subjected to constant stretching since they are wrapped around limbs for long periods of time. Soft neoprene rubber is a durable elastomer that is able to retain its flexibility and form even after having been stretched or compressed for long periods of time. When it comes to neoprene—elastic properties are a given.
Is Neoprene a Good Material?
Neoprene is a good material due to its resilience and enhanced durability against oil, chemicals and heat compared to natural rubbers. As mentioned earlier, neoprene is a synthetic variation of rubber that is ideal for heavy-duty applications involving chemicals, grease, heat, and moisture—since neoprene temperature-range, neoprene oil-resistance, and neoprene hardness are all qualities well-suited for heavy-duty settings. Neoprene rubber is ideal for industrial settings and abrasive environments, such as construction sites and automotive industries, because of its high tensile strength and resistance to abrasions, gas, and oil—all of which are common in these industries. Neoprene material is also able to absorb the force of the impacts from falling tools or equipment, cushioning the floor and preventing damage. Neoprene rubber is an all-weather material, meaning that it can withstand the damaging effects of UV-rays, ozone, moisture, oils, and solvents. Thus, neoprene products can be used both indoors and outdoors without the worry of damage. Neoprene properties such as neoprene temperature-resistance, neoprene tensile-strength, neoprene uv-resistance, and neoprene compression-set make this rubber material an all-around useful tool.
Is Neoprene a Synthetic Fiber?
Neoprene, it its original form, is not a fiber. But, a fabric-like synthetic fiber can be made from neoprene material. Oftentimes, neoprene is delivered to textile factories in liquid form where it is blended with additives that enhance the natural polychloroprene-rubber properties. It is then baked, a process which hardens the liquid neoprene compound before it is cut for neoprene fabric production. Once the liquid neoprene has been hardened and cut, it can then be sewn together into a fabric. You might be wondering, in the case of fabric, what is neoprene used for? Neoprene fabric is commonly used today in the production of things like wetsuits, where polychloroprene properties are utilized to the consumer’s benefit.
What Is in Neoprene Rubber?
You might question: How is neoprene made? Neoprene is a synthetic rubber made of chemicals including petrochemicals and chlorine. According to Britannica, “in modern production is it obtained by the chlorination of butadiene or isoprene. In order to process chloroprene into rubber, it is emulsified in water and then polymerized through the action of free-radical initiators.” Butadiene and isoprene are both common chemical compounds found in synthetic rubbers due to their ability to enhance the strength of rubber. Butadiene is a major component of synthetic rubbers because of the way it enhances a rubber material’s durability. Isoprene is also a common component of synthetic rubbers because it “has outstanding impermeability to gases.” The neoprene chemical-structure creates a resilient, strong, and oil-resistant synthetic rubber. Because of this, the number of neoprene uses is extraordinarily high.
Is Neoprene Rubber Gas-Resistant?
Neoprene rubber is gas-resistant and was originally made to be a gas-resistant alternative to natural rubber. At the time of its invention, rubber was a growing commodity, so many countries sought the creation of a synthetic version of rubber that was more durable and resistant to oils and gases. When it came to developing neoprene, chemistry played a central role. Natural rubber is prone to degrading upon contact with these substances. But, by tweaking with the chloroprene structure, scientists were able to solve this issue. Nowadays, neoprene sheets are able to withstand oils and gasses, lasting much longer than natural rubber under such circumstances. While not as resistant to gas and oil as nitrile rubber, solid neoprene still functions well in environments exposed to gases and oils. The performance of neoprene used for gas-resistance may vary, depending on the durometer of the neoprene used. In general, though, neoprene products will not break down when confronted with the harsh gases and oils commonplace in many industries.
Is Neoprene Rubber Biodegradable?
Neoprene rubber is not a biodegradable product. The term “biodegradable material” refers to “substances that get decay with the help of natural agent such as microorganisms, air, water, soil, sunlight, ozone, etc. into the organic manure.” According to one authority, “they are non-toxic, non-pollutants, eco-friendly to the environment.” Neoprene rubber is a durable material that is resistant to degradation from natural agents. According to ChemistryWorld, “one of the main problems with neoprene is its long lifespan. It’s actually so non-biodegradable that it has been used to line landfill sites.” Neoprene rubber, like most rubbers, will likely sit in a landfill once discarded because the chemicals used in its composition are toxic and non-biodegradable materials; however, neoprene products can be recycled and used to create recycled neoprene products such as yoga mats, shoes insoles, laptop pads and medical bandages.
Is Neoprene Eco-Friendly?
Neoprene is not an eco-friendly material due to its composition of non-renewable resources, such as petrochemicals. Neoprene rubber is made of petroleum-based chemicals because of their ability to create an oil-resistant rubber. While this is useful to consumers, it makes neoprene rubber a non-eco-friendly material. According to National Geographic, “nonrenewable energy resources include coal, natural gas, oil, and nuclear energy. Once these resources are used up, they cannot be replaced, which is a major problem for humanity as we are currently dependent on them to supply most of our energy needs.” The production of neoprene material requires the use of petroleum gas, which is one of the most prominent non-renewable resources. However, neoprene can be recycled into other common products, such as shoe soles and exercise mats to help conserve our resources. Therefore, although neoprene rubber isn’t exactly eco-friendly, it can nonetheless be made eco-friendlier by being recycled into new products rather than being discarded.
Neoprene rubber is a versatile material that is often used in abrasive industries because of its durability and resistance to gasses and oils. As a synthetic elastomer, neoprene is much more durable and versatile than natural rubber due to the chlorine found in its chemical composition. Not only can neoprene be used for industrial purposes, but solid neoprene can also be processed and made into insulated fabrics for clothing. Although a CR-rubber sheet is non-biodegradable and non-eco-friendly, it can be recycled and made into new products to reduce the environmental impact neoprene has on the planet. While CR-rubber material was initially invented to replace natural rubber, today, neoprene material is used for a wider range of applications—including things like a neoprene gasket roll, a custom neoprene spacer, a foamed neoprene padding with adhesive-backing, and a thin neoprene sheet.