Since its invention in 1930, the uses of neoprene have expanded from being just an oil-resistant alternative to natural rubber to being used in a variety of industrial and household applications. The uses of neoprene are diverse due to its durability, elasticity, insulating capabilities, resistance to oil and moisture, and resilience against outdoor environments. Neoprene material is ideal for industrial applications because these areas often see abrasive materials and corrosive chemicals and oils. Although neoprene material is generally used for industrial applications, they can also be used for many common everyday applications. Neoprene rubber can be used for applications including seals and gaskets, conveyer belts, protective pads and bumpers, soundproofing, military equipment, household items, athletic supports and braces, and hoses.
What is the Function of Neoprene?
Initially, the uses of neoprene were limited to being an oil-resistant alternative to natural rubber; however, in today’s world, the uses of neoprene have expanded into multiple applications including household goods, high tech and athletics. One type of neoprene is available in solid rubber form. When speaking of the solid form of neoprene, it is important to understand the range of durometers that are available for solid neoprene sheets. Durometer refers to the hardness of a certain material and, in the case of neoprene material, the Shore A Scale (the shore scale used to measure flexible materials) is used to determine durometer. Neoprene sheets are available, through our firm, in five durometers ranging from 45 Shore A to 80 Shore A with hardness, density and weight increasing with higher durometers. In addition, neoprene is also available in two types of foam forms: open cell neoprene and closed cell neoprene. Open cell neoprene sheets are more porous in nature; however, they have the ability to disperse energy, impact and sound with its composition. Closed cell neoprene sheets have a more solid structure, lower absorption rates, and offers a lower compression set than that of open cell neoprene. Neoprene is made up of chemicals including petrochemicals and chlorine that give it enhanced durability in the face of outdoor environments, chemicals, oils, and gases. This durable synthetic rubber can be used to make oil-resistant seals and gaskets, protective pads and bumpers, and even clothing.
What are the Uses of Neoprene?
The uses of neoprene can include heavy-duty industrial or common everyday applications, such as seal and gaskets, conveyor belts, protective pads and bumpers, soundproofing, military gear and equipment, household items and cleaning gloves, athletic supports and braces, and hoses. Neoprene is able to be used in such applications due to its durability and resistance to heat, chemicals, and oil. Additionally, neoprene pads can stand up well against outdoor damaging factors such as direct sunlight, moisture, and ozone. Due to neoprene’s low compression set and high durometer rating, neoprene material is extremely difficult to tear or break; therefore, making it the ideal material for highly abrasive applications.
Seals and Gaskets
One of the most common uses of neoprene is in the form of seals and gaskets. These are generally seen in automotive or industrial businesses, due to neoprene’s resistance to oil, but can be used wherever protection is necessary. Neoprene gaskets are used to prevent the leaking of oil or moisture from equipment and can be cut into custom shapes and sizes according to a specific application. Neoprene seals are used to cover the openings of shafts to prevent leakage. They are often flat and feature a lip that further prevents leakage that may slip through the sides. Due to its resistance to abrasions, oil, and gasoline and a high tolerance to high temperatures, seals and gaskets made of neoprene are able to withstand harsh conditions while its high tensile strength prevents them from breaking or tearing while in use.
Neoprene was among the very first rubber products to be used as a drive belt or conveyor belt. Conveyor belts are commonly found in industrial settings where abrasive products and raw materials are being transferred on these belts. Industrial setting may involve the use or storage of chemicals making neoprene material a valuable asset for making industrial conveyer belts. Neoprene’s high tensile strength will prevent the belt from tearing or breaking upon contact with heavy or abrasive materials. Furthermore, neoprene has a low compression set making it a trusted and resilient option for conveyor belts compared to other materials.
Protective Pads and Bumpers
Protective uses of neoprene are found in the form of pads and bumpers. Neoprene retains excellent shock absorbing capabilities making it the ideal material for creating protective pads and bumpers. Protective pads and bumpers can be found both indoors and outdoors such as industrial workplaces and boat decks making neoprene the ideal versatile material. The durable neoprene material is able to resist damage caused by outdoor environmental factors including sunlight and moisture. Furthermore, neoprene also retains a low compression set which allows neoprene to be compressed for long periods of time without becoming disfigured. The neoprene will also prevent moisture from permeating through the material. Neoprene is an excellent impact buffer between two objects or between the floor and falling objects by providing a cushioned surface that will absorb the force of impact.
Neoprene pads are able to reduce the amount of noise created by vibrations. Sound dampening neoprene pads are often used under vibrating or active equipment and machinery to reduce the noise caused by the constant rattling of the object on a floor’s surface. The neoprene material will disperse the energy of sound within its structure to dampen the noise produced. Neoprene isolation pads can be used under equipment or used to cover the entire space. Additionally, you may also find neoprene pads on door frames which serve as a medium to reduce sound and cushion the door from the frame.
Military equipment and combat gear must be durable enough to withstand the harsh conditions and rigorous activity to which they are often subjected. In fact, at the time of neoprene’s introduction into society, the uses of neoprene were extremely helpful during World War II. Neoprene will not deteriorate under harsh outdoor conditions while still being a lightweight material. Neoprene’s elasticity allows for unrestricted comfort during rigorous activities. Additionally, neoprene material will not lose its shape or tear easily due to its low compression set and high tensile strength.
The uses of neoprene are not limited to industrial applications and can be used for smaller household applications including laptop pads, tablet holders, and cleaning gloves. Neoprene pads provide protection for fragile household items such as electronics or glassware. It is soft enough to provide a protective cushion while also being durable enough to resist damage to the material itself. In addition, with increased durability and chemical resistance, neoprene material is the ideal option for making protective cleaning gloves. Cleaning chemicals, such as ammonium, can cause skin irritation but, due to neoprene’s tolerance to chemicals, it is an excellent material for cleaning gloves. Furthermore, these gloves are a cost-effective investment because these durable neoprene gloves will outlast their competitors.
Athletic Supports and Braces
The uses of neoprene have breached into the field of sports medicine due to neoprene’s insulating and elastic qualities. Neoprene excels in flexibility making it appropriate to wear as an accessory, like athletic supports and braces. Neoprene is a hardy material that can withstand everyday use while maintaining its integrity and offering moderate insulation. Due to its resistance to moisture, neoprene is suitable for sports-related braces where sweating is inevitable. Neoprene material is also well regarded for its insulating capabilities that can be helpful in the healing process of injuries. Neoprene is an insulating material that “retains heat to help aid in compression and improved blood circulation (the compression and warmth that neoprene knee braces provide increased the circulation that helps speed up the recovery of injured ligaments in the knee)” (braceability.com). Neoprene’s insulation capabilities are not limited to knee braces but can be a beneficial material to use for any brace.
Exhibiting resistance to oils and chemicals, the uses of neoprene can be broadened to hosing applications. When speaking of hoses, there are different types, such as garden hoses and industrial hoses, that each transfer materials that can range from water to oils and chemicals. Neoprene is the ideal material for making hoses because it will not break down when coming in contact with harsh chemicals and oils. It is also a waterproof material that will allow water to pass through the hose without permeating through the material. Furthermore, the low compression set of neoprene material allows neoprene hoses to expand according to the pressure flowing through the hose without tearing.
The uses of neoprene are not limited to only industrial applications. Instead, neoprene’s applications have evolved from its original purpose of being a more durable replacement for natural rubber to being used in common household applications. Due to its high tensile strength and low compression set, neoprene material can be used for heavy-duty applications without worry of damage by corrosive or abrasive materials. Its lightweight and insulating qualities also make neoprene the ideal material for combat gear and braces for injuries. While the uses of neoprene had very specific purposes and applications in the past, today, many choose to use neoprene for a wider range of applications encompassing even household applications.
What is Neoprene Used For?