There are some key similarities between neoprene material and EPDM that allow them to be used for many of the same applications and in the same settings. Neoprene material and EPDM are similar synthetic rubbers that can be used for all-purpose applications. These synthetic rubbers are ideally used for heavy-duty protection against impacts, chemicals, and, in some instances, oils. Both are UV resistant rubbers that are also resistant against other natural environmental factors, such as ozone and moisture. In contrast, neoprene material has better resistance to oils than EPDM while EPDM has better outdoor life and environmental-resistance. Furthermore, solid and foam structures have altered properties, both physical and chemical, that is diminished by the buoyancy of the material. By learning the difference between the two elastomers will allow you to choose the best material for your applications.
What Material is Neoprene?
Neoprene is a synthetic rubber material that is an oil-resistant alternative of natural rubber. Neoprene material features a low oxidation rate, moisture-resistance, resistance to weathering, and resistance to petroleum-based solvents (greases and oils) and chemicals. It also retains an extreme high and low working temperature range up to 212 degrees Fahrenheit which make it highly resistant to heat; however, this can vary depending on whether it is solid neoprene or neoprene foam. Due to these resistant qualities, neoprene is regularly used as an industrial rubber that can withstand harsh conditions and exposure to chemicals. Additionally, neoprene material is a very hard and durable material that is difficult to tear or break off. The hardness of solid neoprene is measured in the Shore A scale with the hardness of the material increasing with a high durometer rating. Solid neoprene is a hard rubber that is available in an array of durometers ranging from as soft as 45A to as hard as 80A.
(a) What is Neoprene Foam?
Neoprene foam is the cellular form of the solid form of neoprene that is produced when air is introduced into its composition that forms air pockets. Due to its airy composition, neoprene foam is a lighter and less dense material than solid neoprene and is able to float on water. Unlike its solid form, neoprene foam is measured using the Shore C scale which is used for softer materials and has a slightly lower operating temperature range of up to about 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Like most foam materials, neoprene foam is also a porous material that is not quite as water-resistant as solid neoprene. Despite this, closed cell neoprene foam will not absorb any moisture which allows it to be used in marine applications; however, open cell neoprene foam, on the other hand, is slightly more porous and will absorb any moisture. In addition, closed cell neoprene foam still offers a moderate degree of resistance against oils and chemicals without suffering immediate damage, but it will not be as resilient as its solid form. Neoprene foam is also resistant to deterioration caused by outdoor environments allowing them to be used and left outdoors without worry of damage allowing it to be used both indoors and outdoors. Due to its air-filled matrix, foam neoprene exhibits excellent compressibility and long-life and is often the preferred industrial rubber material for use as gaskets or seals.
What Material is Similar to Neoprene?
EPDM is a similar synthetic rubber variation to neoprene material. EPDM and neoprene are both all-purpose elastomers that offer similar compression sets, resilience, and ozone resistance; however, each synthetic rubber has a quality the other does not. Like neoprene material, EPDM is also offered in closed and open cell format and can operate under extreme high and low temperatures. Additionally, they both are UV resistant rubbers that exhibit excellent outdoor life, durometer ratings, and resistance to chemicals. EPDM and neoprene are two durable materials that have some of the same applications, but do not have identical physical and chemical properties.
(a) What is EPDM?
EPDM, or Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer, is a synthetic variation of rubber that is commonly used outdoors due to its superior environmental resistance. EPDM is one of the most UV resistant rubbers that are available today and is able to resist other damaging environmental factors, such as ozone and precipitation, which can crack other less durable materials. EPDM is a hard rubber that has a durometer of 60A, which allows for a reasonable degree of pliability and flexibility while also being fairly hard and dense. Much like neoprene material, EPDM has an excellent working temperature range up to 212 degrees Fahrenheit as well. EPDM also has a high degree of chemical resistance, but neoprene material has the upper hand when it comes to oil-resistance as EPDM does not hold up well against oils and greases. Due to this, EPDM materials are best used outdoors or in industrial settings with limited exposure to oil.
(b) What is EPDM Foam?
EPDM foam, like neoprene foam, is the cellular form of solid EPDM material that features a light and airy composition. Much like its solid form, EPDM foam is resistant to direct sunlight and ozone; however, they are not completely impervious to these factors and will eventually degrade over time. Despite these setbacks, closed cell EPDM foam has excellent resistance to moisture. Instead of allowing the moisture to be soaked up right away, EPDM foam keeps moisture on its surface longer to be wiped away easily. EPDM foam also retains a lower operating temperature range of up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit compared to solid EPDM. Due to EPDM foam’s airy and almost sponge-like material, it is a more durable and long-lasting industrial rubber option for seals and gaskets.
(c) Which is Better EPDM or Neoprene?
EPDM and neoprene material both possess exceptional durability and resistance qualities; however, they are each better suited for different applications. While they can both be used as an all-purpose industrial rubber, the difference in chemical and oil-resistance prevents certain applications for each material. For instance, EPDM rubber is generally used for outdoor applications and for applications that are exposed to chemicals while neoprene material is often used for applications where oils are present. EPDM is best used outdoors because it maintains a better resistance to the effects of moisture. Neoprene material is more susceptible to swelling caused by excessive moisture, but EPDM will resist this swelling even when left out in wet weather. Alternatively, neoprene material has better resistance against oils making it a popular choice for industrial setting where exposure to oils and chemicals is common. Furthermore, neoprene and EPDM are both hard UV resistant rubbers that are measured using the Shore A scale; yet, if an application requires a variety of different hardness levels, neoprene material offers a wider assortment of durometer ratings ranging from 45A to 80A while EPDM is only offered in a 60A durometer rating.
While neoprene material and EPDM both have excellent durability, chemical-resistance, and high operating temperatures and are both ozone, moisture, and UV resistant rubbers, they do have key differences within their properties, such as oil-resistance and range in durometers. No one material is superior over the other, but each excel in different applications and settings whether it be in an industrial workplace or outdoors. Therefore, due to these slight differences between properties, it is important to know what your industrial rubber product will come in contact with to give it longer life and prevent deterioration.