Neoprene rubber was the first oil and gas-resistant synthetic rubber that was invented. Initially used to be a more durable replacement for natural rubber, neoprene material is used in a variety of settings today including industrial and automotive industries. As an elastomer, neoprene offers a high tensile strength and low compression set allowing it to be stretched out or compressed without being damaged or losing its shape. Neoprene rubber is also a versatile material that can be used to create insulated fabric and oil and gas-resistant gaskets and seals. Additionally, while a neoprene product may not be biodegradable, it can be repurposed to create other durable rubber products to aid in reducing the amount of non-biodegradable materials in the environment.
Is Neoprene a Rubber?
Neoprene is a synthetic rubber that is produced by the polymerization of chloroprene. Also known by its scientific name, polychloroprene, neoprene rubber has the chemical makeup formula of C4H5Cl which refers to the polymerization of the monomer chloroprene into the polymer of neoprene material. Neoprene rubber, like natural rubbers, is flexible and resistant to most physical damaging forces, such as abrasions and impacts. However, neoprene is best and most commonly known for its weather and heat resistance. Neoprene rubber is a tough material that can be measured through shore hardness testers. Durometer refers to the level of hardness of a material and, in this case, solid neoprene is measured in 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 with the durometer increasing as the numbers climb higher.
Neoprene rubber is available in solid neoprene sheets and custom cuts or as 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 introduces a foaming agent that results in a sponge-like rubber with air pockets in its physical make-up. As their names suggest, open cell neoprene foam is more porous than closed cell neoprene foam making it easier for moisture to permeate through the material. Closed cell neoprene provides better moisture-resistance and can provide ample cushioning with its more solid structure. Because 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 can be used as an all-purpose rubber; however, since it holds a higher tensile strength than natural rubber, it can be used in a wider set of applications.
Is Neoprene an Elastomer?
Neoprene is an elastomer due to its ability to be stretched out and return to its original shape without damage. An elastomer, according to Britannica, 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” (britannica.com). Elastomers are well known for their resilience against breaking or tearing under extreme strain or pressure. Common applications where neoprene’s elastomeric qualities are in the form of athletic wraps and braces where they are subjected to the constant stretching of it being wrapped around and limb and staying wrapped for an indefinite length of time. Neoprene rubber is a durable elastomer that is able to retain its flexibility and form even when stretched or compressed for long periods of time.
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. 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 can be found and are common in these industries. The neoprene material is also able to absorb the force of impact from falling tools or equipment to cushion the floor and prevent damage. Neoprene rubber is an all-weather material meaning it can withstand damaging effects of UV rays, ozone, moisture and oils and solvents which adds to its versatility by allowing a neoprene product to be used both indoors and outdoors without the worry of damage.
Is Neoprene a Fabric?
Neoprene, it its original form, is not a fabric, but fabric can be made from neoprene material. Oftentimes, neoprene is delivered to textile factories in liquid form where it is blended with additives that increase neoprene’s natural traits. It is then baked to harden the liquid neoprene material before it can be cut for neoprene fabric production. Once the liquid neoprene has hardened and been cut, they can finally be sewn together into fabric. Neoprene fabric is commonly used today in the production of women’s clothing, wetsuits, and insulated clothing.
What Chemicals are in Neoprene?
Neoprene is a synthetic rubber made of chemicals including petrochemicals and chlorine. For instance, “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” (britannica.com). 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 due to its ability to create durable synthetic rubbers. Isoprene is also a common component of synthetic rubbers because it “has outstanding impermeability to gases” (britannica.com). These chemical compounds found in neoprene rubber creates a resilient, strong, and oil-resistant synthetic rubber.
Is Neoprene Rubber Gas Resistant?
Neoprene rubber is gas resistant and was originally made to be a gas-resistant alternative for natural rubber. At the time of its invention, rubber was a growing commodity so many countries were looking to create a new synthetic version of rubber that will be more durable and resistant to oils and gases. Natural rubber is prone to breaking down upon contact with oil and gas, but neoprene sheets are able to withstand these materials and will last longer under these circumstances. While not as resistant to gas and oil as nitrile rubber, solid neoprene will serve well in environments exposed to gases and oils. Gas resistance may vary depending on the durometer of the neoprene used; however, overall, a neoprene product will not break down when coming into contact with the harsh gases and oils of mechanical industries.
Is Neoprene Biodegradable?
Neoprene rubber is not a biodegradable product. The term “biodegradable material” refers to “the substances that get decay with the help of natural agent such as microorganisms, air, water, soil, sunlight, ozone, etc. into the organic manure…they are non-toxic, non-pollutants, eco-friendly to the environment” (biodifferences.com). Neoprene rubber is a durable material that is resistant to the degradation caused by natural agents. For instance, “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” (chemistryworld.com). Neoprene rubber, like most rubbers, will likely sit in a landfill indefinitely because the chemicals used in its composition are toxic and non-biodegradable materials; however, a neoprene product can be recycled and used to create other rubber products such as yoga mats, shoes insoles, laptop pads and medical bandages (caltrend.com).
Is Neoprene Eco-Friendly?
Neoprene is not an eco-friendly material due to its make-up of non-renewable resources, such as petrochemicals. Neoprene rubber is made of petroleum-based chemicals because of its ability to create an oil-resistant rubber, but this makes neoprene not an 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” (nationalgeographic.org). 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.
Neoprene rubber is a versatile material that is often used in abrasive industries because of their durability and resistance to gases and oils. As a synthetic elastomer, neoprene material is much more durable and versatile than natural rubber materials due to the chlorine chemical found in its composition. Not only can neoprene be used for industrial purposes, but solid neoprene can also be processed and made into insulated fabric for clothing. Although neoprene rubber is non-biodegradable and not eco-friendly, it can be recycled and made into new products to reduce the environmental impact neoprene has on the environment. While neoprene rubber was initially invented to replace natural rubber, today, neoprene material is used for a wider range of applications including clothing, protective padding and common household products.