Of the many types of rubber, neoprene is one of the most balanced compounds. This all-purpose rubber boasts excellent resistance to ozone, oxidation and can tolerate a large range of temperatures. Among a host of other properties, this strong material can also provide resistance against chemicals such as ammonium and a variety of alcohols. These qualities have led to its use within several industrial and commercial applications. Used for things like electrical insulation and automotive belts, neoprene is a valuable part of many common products within our market. Below, we’ll discuss the two types of neoprene, as well as answer the following questions:
What Are the Different Types of Neoprene?Neoprene materials can be produced in two types: a solid neoprene sheet and a neoprene sponge. Compositionally, these two types of neoprene are the same—their main difference is that they have different structures. And each type of neoprene has its own strengths and weaknesses—and, therefore, its own function.
What Material Is Neoprene?
Neoprene is a petrochemical material since it is derived from petroleum. Although neoprene production draws from this non-biodegradable resource, many rubber producers use discarded neoprene products to make new rubber items.
There are five factors that we usually consider when talking about a certain type of rubber: temperature-resistance, compressibility, abrasion-resistance, tear-resistance, and durometer. Below, we’ll go through the types of neoprene products, answering your questions along the way:
What Is Solid Neoprene Rubber?
These types of neoprene are the denser forms of neoprene. Solid neoprene sheets share many of the same chemical resistances as the other type of neoprene but are distinct in how they can excel in abrasive conditions. The durometer (the measurement of a material’s hardness) is measured in Shore “A” for solid neoprene and Shore “OO” for cellular neoprene. This goes hand-in-hand with a lower compressibility since rubber materials measured using Shore A are not quite as compressible as sponges or foams. However, the tensile strength (or ability to be stretched without tearing) of dense neoprene products is higher than that of their foam or spongey counterparts. This combination of high durometer and high tensile strength makes high-density neoprene sheeting great for abrasive applications. Solid neoprene’s mechanical strength makes it an extremely durable material.
When it comes to temperature, the density of neoprene doesn’t affect how heat-resistant neoprene rubber rolls are. Hence, a high-density neoprene sheet and a neoprene foam roll are equally resistant to high temperatures. Sometimes though, a product like a large neoprene mat is blended with other petrochemical compounds, like styrene-butadiene (SBR) and nitrile (NBR). Generally, in these cases, the more neoprene the product has, the more heat-resistant it is. But note that neoprene is not a fire-retardant material—it’s simply less flammable than other types of rubber.
What Is the Purpose of Neoprene Foam?
Aptly named, sponge or cellular neoprene has a foam-like composition, structured similarly to a household sponge. It features a softer composition, especially when compared to its denser counterpart. And the foam neoprene structure features networks of air pockets that compress in response to external pressure. Thus, this type of neoprene is highly compressible, returning to its original shape after being pressed. This feature is the reason why sponge neoprene is ideal for seals and gaskets that need very tight seals. Neoprene gasket material remains resilient under pressure, so it prevents leakages from occurring. It is also excellent at retaining gas. The structure of neoprene sponge also makes it excellent at absorbing vibrations. This quality makes it a popular choice for musicians’ studios.
An opened- or closed-cell neoprene foam sheet is inadequate for handling abrasive environments especially since it has a lower tensile strength than dense neoprene materials. Thus, for harsher applications, we recommend that you stick with higher-density neoprene. When it comes to temperature, though, neoprene sponge behaves interestingly. Have you ever wondered: What type of neoprene is used in wetsuits?
What Type of Neoprene Is Used in Wetsuits?
The type of neoprene used in wetsuits is closed-cell neoprene foam. Because its cells are closed, it’s impermeable to water. Furthermore, because of its cellular neoprene structure, neoprene insulation of temperature is excellent. These two qualities make closed-cell neoprene foam the standard material for wetsuits.
A strong and functional rubber, neoprene is a great general-purpose material that is used in a variety of applications. Some types of neoprene products include gaskets, bumper pads, soundproofing materials and even shoe-soles. Offering qualities such as high temperature resistance, durability, and chemical resistance, it has found its way into many of today’s products. There are two fundamental types of neoprene, which gives the material an even greater range of use. When needed for an application that requires a resilient yet malleable material, cellular neoprene would be the appropriate choice. However, several applications subject materials to harsh conditions. In these instances, a solid neoprene sheet would likely be a good fit. For added variation, these neoprene products are commercially manufactured with different blends to enhance their properties and offer more solutions to a broader clientele. With the multitude of benefits neoprene has to offer, how can using neoprene enhance your quality of life?