Polychloroprene (CR) rubber, widely known as neoprene rubber, was invented during the World-War-II era. Countries across the globe were attempting to create a compound that mirrored natural rubber in its basic qualities but exceeded it in other ways, such as its level of chemical resistance. Since then—over 80 years later—a sheet of neoprene is still used today for its versatile balance of chemical resistance and mechanical properties—properties rivaled by few other elastomers. This is why most commercial buyers look to purchase neoprene when trying to source a reliable industrial elastomer. Neoprene rubber offers a set of all-around, effective capabilities. It is important to know, though, that a sheet of neoprene is available in a couple of different forms. In this article, we’ll cover the different forms in which you can purchase neoprene rubber. Along the way, we will also answer some of the most common questions surrounding neoprene materials, including:
• What is neoprene rubber used for?
• What are the benefits of neoprene rubber?
• Is neoprene long-lasting as a material?
• What are the disadvantages of neoprene rubber?
Solid: When it comes to neoprene, density is the main factor that influences the type of neoprene into which neoprene products are categorized. Notably, solid neoprene is much denser than neoprene sponge foam (which we will talk about later). The solid form of CR-grade neoprene is sold in sheets or rolls and in thicknesses from 1/32-inch to laminated versions that could be 4- to 5-inches in thickness. Depending on the demands of the entity trying to purchase neoprene rubber, neoprene materials can be fabricated into different types of products—neoprene lining, neoprene bumpers, and a neoprene gasket are just some of the products that use solid neoprene.
Neoprene Blend: The cost of neoprene is an important consideration to those looking to purchase neoprene rubber. Thus, chloroprene rubber is often mixed with other, less-expensive rubbers to form a blended neoprene sheet. Mixing polychloroprene rubber with reclaimed or styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) allows consumers to purchase neoprene rubber at lower price-points since these rubbers are cheaper than neoprene itself. But, the degree to which manufacturers of neoprene blend their neoprene products affects the properties of neoprene goods. That is, the more that other rubbers are involved in the composition of, say, a neoprene table-mat, the less that the product will exhibit neoprene properties. It will likely still display neoprene’s qualities, but just to a lesser degree. Thus, if you are looking to purchase neoprene rubber, it’s a good idea to check the neoprene blend of the product. That way, you will have a better idea of the neoprene-rubber properties the item possesses.
100%-Neoprene Base: A rare commodity, a sheet of neoprene that has a 100%-neoprene base doesn’t involve rubbers aside from neoprene. In the production of elastomer binders, manufacturers incorporate fillers and other non-elastomer compounds. Therefore, the phrase “100%-neoprene base” refers to the rubber materials used in the product.
Sponge: Neoprene sponge—sometimes known as neoprene foam—has a different structure than solid neoprene. A neoprene sponge roll, for example, is built of tiny cell-like air pockets that increase the neoprene pad’s ability to compress. Neoprene sponge/foam can be produced in open- or closed-cell varieties, and it is offered in a variety of gauges—from 1/32-inch-thick up to 2.5-inch-thick.
What Is Neoprene Rubber Used For?
There are many neoprene rubber uses, including gaskets (neoprene), a textured neoprene sheet, and even a neoprene tool-box liner. When chloroprene was first produced, DuPont, the original manufacturers of neoprene, did not know how to commercialize the product. But its usefulness quickly became evident. And because of its litany of features, neoprene rubber was utilized in hoses, seals, and gaskets, among other things. The synthetic rubber was also used as a jacketing for wires and cables and for the soles of work-shoes. This combination of features is what makes neoprene rubber a great, general-purpose rubber compound used in a host of everyday and specialist products.
What Are the Benefits of Neoprene Rubber?
The benefits of neoprene rubber include oil-resistance, weather-resistance, a wide temperature-range, chemical-resistance, and a long shelf-life. These benefits are the reasons for why neoprene is such a popular type of rubber. Below, we dive into deeper detail about each of these traits:
Oil Resistance: A large neoprene mat, for example, is moderately resistant to animal fats, synthetic greases, petroleum byproducts, and gasoline. CR rubber is a good choice for applications where greases and oils are present.
Weather Resistance: When choosing to purchase neoprene rubber, know that it is resistant to ozone and oxidation, making it much more weather-resistant than natural rubber. This is why many people buy neoprene for outdoor applications. Although EPDM rubber and some recycled rubber sheets can be more UV-resistant, a product such as a neoprene playmat is still a worthy contender in your outdoor project.
Wide Temperature-Range: When it comes to neoprene—temperature range should be one thing that comes to mind. Neoprene rubber maintains its structural integrity across a gamut of temperatures, making it a formidable material for applications that see varying temperatures.
Chemical Resistant: Chloroprene rubber is resistant to many chemicals, including ammonium, freon, and alcohol. Be careful, though, when using a neoprene blend, since the amount of polychloroprene used in the sheet of neoprene will affect its level of chemical resistance. Of course, the more neoprene in the blend, the more effective the product will be when faced with corrosives.
Excellent Shelf-Life: Neoprene rubber is less prone to aging and degrading when compared to natural rubber. There is no question about whether this product will outlast natural rubber in terms of shelf-life—which is why manufacturers of neoprene keep decent stocks of neoprene rubber products in their warehouses.
Is Neoprene Long-Lasting as a Material?
As we’ve mentioned, neoprene lasts a very long time. It possesses properties such as oil-, chemical-, and weather-resistance, making it one of the best rubbers for applications that demand prolonged use.
What Are the Disadvantages of Neoprene Rubber?
The main disadvantage that confronts neoprene is its price—especially if you’re considering a 100%-neoprene-based product. To offset this issue,
those who seek to purchase neoprene rubber should opt for neoprene-blended products, which enjoy many of the benefits that 100%-neoprene-base products offer—all without the stark price difference.
By itself, neoprene rubber already has so many inherent advantages. But considering the fact that it can be augmented to fit different needs, this rubber material becomes an even more valuable consideration. Neoprene rubber can be produced in solid or sponge form. It can be combined with other rubbers to make an even more versatile and affordable neoprene blend material. There’s no doubt. With this knowledge about neoprene rubber under your belt, we’re sure you’ll be able to make the best decision when you look to purchase neoprene rubber.