You may identify neoprene rubber as the elastomeric material that mouse pads and laptop sleeves are made of. That kind of neoprene material is soft to the touch and exhibits an excellent degree of flexibility and elasticity. However, neoprene rubber can also be used for heavy-duty construction applications. A neoprene bearing pad is a thick and durable version of solid neoprene rubber. Thick neoprene padding is employed in construction settings because it can endure the immense pressure of heavy weights, and it resists many outdoor conditions, such as oils and ozone. Many people do not know this, but practically every bridge that you can drive your car across is constructed with the assistance of durable neoprene components. Neoprene pads have been and are still commonly used in concrete bridges to prevent the bridge itself from becoming damaged by bridge activities and movements. A quality, solid neoprene block is perfect protective barrier that many important construction tasks require. In this article, we will discuss neoprene bearing pads for buildings, answering a few questions along the way:
• Is neoprene good for padding?
• What are neoprene bearing pads made of?
• What is a bearing pad for construction?
• What are neoprene bearing pads used for?
Is Neoprene Good for Padding?
In general, neoprene is good for padding because it is naturally elastic, impact-absorbent, abrasion-resistant, water-resistant, and weather-resistant. Its durability makes it a long-lasting material, and its many resistances make it applicable in countless situations. But, remember that the type of neoprene used to make neoprene padding is very different from the type used to make neoprene products such as mousepads.
What Are Neoprene Bearing Pads Made Of?
Neoprene bearing pads are, of course, made of neoprene. But exactly what type of neoprene are these bearing pads made of? Although both mousepads and neoprene bearing pads are both derived from the same base compound, polychloroprene, the neoprene material used to make a neoprene bearing pad is solid neoprene rubber. This type of neoprene lacks the foam-like quality that defines a host of other neoprene products. Most laptop sleeves and mousepads are made of sponge neoprene, a form of neoprene produced by foaming the material during its creation process. Unlike in the production of solid neoprene—in the production of foam neoprene, a foaming agent is introduced to neoprene while it is in liquid form, reacting to generate nitrogen gas from within the material itself. Then, as the liquid neoprene solidifies, these bubbles of gas remain trapped within the material, giving it that sponge-like quality that has earned this type of neoprene its nickname of sponge neoprene. On the other hand, neoprene pads for bridges are made of dense neoprene, and their production processes do not include additions of foaming agents. In contrast to the softer and more foamy-looking cell-neoprene, the material in a neoprene bearing pad is solid and firm to the touch, offering only a minute degree of flexibility but a superlative level of durability.
What Is a Bearing Pad for Construction?
A bearing pad for construction is a safety mechanism that gives bridges and other structures the ability to flex with their movements instead of being damaged by them. A neoprene bearing pad is uniquely qualified for this task because of the neoprene mechanical properties. As a material, neoprene is impact-absorbent, abrasion-resistant, and weather-resistant—qualities which are ideal for handling the weight of heavy structures in the outdoors. For example, in the construction of bridges and buildings, engineers employ elastomeric bearings to help stabilize a structure while and after it is built. How does this work? The answer is quite simple. As much as it might scare you to hear, it is a fact that buildings normally sway. In the phenomenon known as “wind sway” everyday winds cause skyscrapers to lean back and forth throughout the day. According to The Guardian, a building 1,000-feet tall sways at least several inches per day from normal winds. This aggregate of distance swayed increases when we consider severe winds. Ground movements due to seismic activity or due to thermal expansions and contractions also caused structures to move. Given the many factors that cause buildings to sway, it is clear that tools like neoprene bearing pads are necessary and irreplaceable. These bearings consist of three layers. The first and third layers are made of metals such as steel, and the middle layer is made of rubber—usually neoprene. The point of a neoprene bearing pad is to give the structure latitude, allowing it to acutely shift and rotate horizontally without endangering the stability of the structure itself.
What Are Neoprene Bearing Pads Used For?
Again, neoprene bearing pads are used for constructing bridges and other structures. There are three types of bearings: elastomeric, plane sliding and multiple roller bearings. A neoprene bearing pad falls directly into the elastomeric category because it utilizes the inherent elasticity of rubber. Despite the limited flexibility of a thick and solid neoprene block, the fact that it is an elastomeric material alone gives it the level of shock-absorption sufficient for supporting the slight movements of heavy buildings. Elasticity is a trait common to rubbers, although it is worth remembering that rubber products can be augmented to have specific degrees of elasticity. Plus, elastomeric bearings are also a more economical choice when compared to the other types of bearings. Neoprene padding offers two important physical functions that can help to prevent damage to bridges:
Absorbs shock: The shock-absorbing property of this durable neoprene material dampens impacts that may damage the structural integrity of the structure. Neoprene pads for bridges also absorb the movements generated by thermal expansions and contractions: concrete, earth, and other building components expand and contract in response to temperature. Indeed, these changes are slight. But, in the context of a building, small movements can have catastrophic consequences if supported improperly. Thus, the shock-absorbing feature of a neoprene bearing pad helps a bridge stay stable and last long.
Promotes movement: The inherent elasticity of neoprene allows for the bridge to shift laterally. The elastic nature of neoprene allows a bridge’s beam to rotate slightly, as well as shift back and forth. Even the thickest, densest neoprene has some degree of elasticity—just enough to make a difference. This feature is a reason for why neoprene is such a popular material to use in construction projects.
A neoprene bearing pad is a cost effective and useful plate for use on precast, pre-stressed concrete or on metal beams in bridges. Neoprene pads for bridges allow effortless and consistent transmission of mass from the beam downward. This permits the beam to shift horizontally in response to natural thermal energy. Neoprene padding is easier to install than plane-sliding and multiple-roller bearings. Neoprene rubber’s resistances to ozone, UV-rays, chemicals, and weathering ensures that the elastomer will not degrade from outdoor use. Neoprene also has a wide, operating temperature range, which ensures consistent performance across many temperature conditions. It is truly amazing what a neoprene block can do! The next time you are on a bridge, just know that, chances are, you are being supported through the aid of a neoprene bearing pad. The prospect of a swaying structure might paralyze you with fear, but it is a natural part of building construction, and you can trust that modern engineering has this variable under control. Anyway, it gives you more appreciation for the neoprene pads making safer buildings possible!