Neoprene and EPDM rubber sheeting are both highly resilient synthetic rubbers; however, each retain contrasting physical and chemical properties that make them better suited for different applications. Both synthetic rubber materials are extremely durable and difficult to tear or misshapen. Despite their similar strengths, ethylene propylene rubber and neoprene are often used for very different purposes. As a highly UV resistant rubber along with its moderate resistance to chemicals, EPDM is often used to create outdoor rubber parts for industrial applications. Neoprene, contrastingly, is best used in oil-related applications and away from applications involving excessive amounts of moisture. Despite these differences, both rubber materials will make durable industrial rubber parts.
What is the Difference Between EPDM and Neoprene?
The main difference between EPDM and neoprene can be seen through their chemical and physical properties as EPDM is better resistant to outdoor damaging factors than neoprene whereas neoprene is better resistant to chemicals and oils than EPDM. Both neoprene and EPDM retain excellent to moderate outdoor resistance properties; however, each elastomer has different chemical resistance properties. EPDM rubber sheeting is best known for being an outdoor rubber material whereas neoprene is best known for its excellent chemical and oil-resistance capabilities. As a case in point, “EPDM elastomers have excellent heat, ozone/weathering, and aging resistance. They also exhibit excellent electrical insulation, compression set, and low temperature properties” (polymerdatabase.com). While neoprene can withstand outdoor conditions, EPDM rubber sheeting is better resistant to the damaging effects of moisture and ozone. Neoprene is a highly moisture resistant material that will slowly absorb moisture, but with enough exposure, it will eventually be affected by water-swelling which decreases the strength of the elastomer in an application. EPDM retains excellent chemical resistance properties to most caustic solvents, but it is not resistant to oil like neoprene. EPDM rubber sheeting is susceptible to swelling caused by oil, but it will not be affected by chemicals such as ethanol, anti-freeze, boric acid, potassium sulfate, silver nitrate, saccharine, formaldehyde, mercury, and acetone. For instance, “The fatigue life of an EPDM sample under dynamic multi-axial loading can be greatly reduced in the presence of oil, even for relatively small amount of swelling” (researchgate.net). Another difference between neoprene and EPDM products are their operating temperature ranges. Both elastomers have a relatively wide operating temperature range, but EPDM rubber sheeting has a slightly wider range. EPDM rubber sheeting has an operating temperature range of -40 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit whereas neoprene’s operating range is -20 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
Which is Better EPDM or Neoprene?
Neither EPDM nor neoprene is better than the other elastomer because they retain contrasting properties that are better suited for separate applications. EPDM, also known as Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer, is most often used for outdoor applications whereas neoprene is best used for oil and chemical-related applications. For example, ethylene propylene rubber is generally used in outdoor industrial settings where they can be exposed to outdoor damaging factors, such as direct sunlight, ozone, wet weather, and oxygen. In fact, it is highly regarded as one of the most UV resistant rubber materials available. Neoprene is a highly chemical and oil-resistant material that is often used for oil or chemical-related applications due to is excellent resistance to caustic solvents. Although neoprene is a highly moisture resistant material, it is not compatible with applications that involve excessive amounts of moisture (i.e., outdoors in wet weather or submergence in liquids) to avoid water-swelling. On the other hand, EPDM rubber sheeting can also swell and lose its strength in an application when it is exposed to oil. Both elastomers are durable enough to resist outdoor environments, but as the superior outdoor rubber, EPDM, or ethylene propylene rubber, is best used for outdoor applications while neoprene is best used for industrial applications involving oil or kerosene.
Properties: Chemical Differences
Although both neoprene and EPDM are highly resistant to chemical solvents, each elastomer retains a different level of resistance as well as being resistant to some chemicals that the other is not. For instance, EPDM rubber sheeting is generally compatible with “polar substances, e.g. fireproof hydraulic fluids, ketones, hot and cold water, and alkalis. It is incompatible with most hydrocarbons, such as oils…as well as halogenated solvents” (Wikipedia.org). Neoprene, however, retains excellent resistance to oil and gasoline, but it is not resistant to certain chemicals EPDM is resistant to, such as acetone, acetic acids, and bleach solutions. Due to these differences in chemical resistance, both neoprene and EPDM products are often used for separate applications with neoprene being suitable for chemical-related applications while EPDM is better suited for moderate chemical exposure; however, both elastomers will provide a long-lasting and resilient application in harsh industrial environments.
Properties: Physical Differences
Both neoprene and EPDM rubber sheeting are physically strong materials that retain high tensile strengths, low compression sets, and excellent shock-absorption capabilities; however, when it comes to outdoor usage, ethylene propylene rubber is the better outdoor rubber between the two. EPDM rubber sheeting is a widely used outdoor rubber due to its superior resistance properties to environmental damaging factors which include harsh UV rays, ozone, oxygen, and moisture. Although neoprene can stand up well against weathering, it does not retain the same level of resistance as EPDM to all outdoor factors. EPDM is a highly UV resistant rubber that is able to be used and left outdoors in wet weather conditions without worry of damage. Neoprene, although resistant to moisture, cannot be left out in wet weather or exposed to excessive amounts of moisture as it is more susceptible to water-swelling which weakens the application. EPDM is the best outdoor rubber when compared to neoprene and will remain a sturdy application in harsh outdoor conditions.
Is Neoprene Same as EPDM?
Neoprene is not the same as EPDM rubber sheeting due to their difference in chemical compositions as well as different physical and chemical properties. Both elastomers can be used as a general-purpose rubber; however, EPDM and neoprene retain different resistance properties that make each elastomer better suited for different applications. They do have some similarities, such as excellent outdoor resistance capabilities, chemical resistance, and a wide operating temperature range. As an UV resistant rubber, EPDM is best used as an outdoor rubber whereas neoprene is best used in applications that involve caustic solvents and oil. EPDM rubber sheeting is better resistant to the outdoors, especially applications that may become exposed to an excessive amount of moisture. Although neoprene is also resistant to moisture, it is not as resistant as ethylene propylene rubber which makes it easier to be affected by water-swelling. Despite their different chemical and physical properties, both EPDM rubber sheeting and neoprene are durable synthetic elastomers that are ideal for general-purpose or industrial applications.
Which is Better Neoprene or Rubber?
As a synthetic elastomer, neoprene is better than rubber due to its enhanced strength, chemical resistance, and damaging environmental factors. Unlike natural rubber, which is harvested from a tree called Hevea brasiliensis, or the “rubber tree”, neoprene is made using a blend of chemical compounds that give it its unique characteristics and abilities. Neoprene is a “good general-purpose rubber, [that] is valued for its high tensile strength, resilience, oil and flame resistance and resistance to degradation by oxygen and ozone…” (Britannica.com). Although it is possible to use natural rubber as an outdoor rubber, its level of environmental resistance is weaker than that of neoprene. Natural rubber “has a high tensile strength and is resistant to fatigue from wear such as chipping, cutting or tearing. On the other hand, natural rubber has only moderate resistance to damage from exposure to heat, light and the ozone in the air” (sciencing.com). Being left outdoors for long periods of time can cause damage to natural rubber called “ozone cracking”. Ozone cracking refers to when “traces of ozone in the atmosphere attack double bonds in the chains of the materials” causing it to crack (sciencedirect.com). Overall, neoprene is a highly durable synthetic rubber material that will outlast natural rubber in industrial applications.
Ethylene propylene rubber and neoprene rubber are two highly resilient synthetic rubber materials that are ideally used in industrial settings. EPDM is a highly UV resistant rubber that is often used for outdoor applications where other rubbers may become damaged. Neoprene can also stand up well against the damaging effects of UV rays; however, EPDM products will make a better outdoor application due to its superior resistance to excessive amounts of moisture. Neoprene, in contrast, is better resistant to oil, greases, and chemicals than EPDM rubber sheeting and will provide a sturdier application in chemical and oil-intensive settings. Overall, both EPDM and neoprene are strong synthetic rubbers that will provide sturdy applications in industrial settings.