Neoprene rubber, commonly known as Chloroprene, is a solid rubber material with a good resistance to oils, chemicals, UV, ozone and weather conditions in general. With its excellent strength and abrasion properties, combined with a wide temperature range of between -35˚C and 125˚C (depending on the grade of rubber), Neoprene rubber is a popular gasket material for a number of applications, especially for sealing purposes. Given its properties, Neoprene rubber is commonly used for sealing electrical applications, such as light fixtures. Electronic lights must be sealed against the ingress of moisture; water or liquid that seeps into a lighting component can lead to expensive damages or even complete failure. By using a resistant material such as Neoprene rubber, costs are likely to be considerably reduced in the long term. Other uses for Neoprene rubber include:
Sports and medical equipment
Neoprene rubber is widely used in manufacturing products such as medical and sports supports. It makes an ideal material for wrist, knee, elbow and other types of supports. Whilst many materials will chafe and deteriorate over time, Neoprene keeps its shape, providing support as well as comfort. As a result, many medical braces and supports worn to help performance in sport use Neoprene rubber.
Laptop covers and sleeves
Static build up in laptops, PCs and other electrical equipment can be quite detrimental. Neoprene therefore makes a great material for encasing laptops and other electrical products. As well as providing padding and protection to prevent damages, Neoprene’s natural resistance to electricity prevents static from building up. Neoprene is also commonly used for mobile phone sleeves and cases.
Due to its resistance to oils and chemicals and the ability to prevent the ingress of water and other liquids, Neoprene is widely used in the manufacture of safety gloves and other safety equipment. As Neoprene rubber of certain grades will not degrade when subjected to very low and high temperatures, it provides an excellent material for protecting our skin from harm when working in certain conditions.
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The History Of Neoprene
During the 1920s there was an increasing demand for natural rubber which led to higher and higher prices, sparking a search for an equivalent synthetic rubber. It was during the 1930s that Wallace Carothers, a chemist in DuPont's fundamental research group, produced a rubber-like substance during a polymerization experiment using chloroprene.
DuPont improved both the manufacturing process and the end product throughout the 1930s. The material was also being sold to manufacturers of finished end-products at this time.
The Neoprene Wetsuit
Neoprene was first used as a wetsuit in the 1950s. It was discovered that a thin layer of trapped water could be tolerated between the wetsuit fabric and the skin, so long as insulation was present in the fabric in the form of trapped air bubbles. The air in the fabric meant water would quickly reach skin temperature and continue to act as thermal insulation to keep it that way. The sealing properties of Neoprene ensures that the body-heated trapped water remains between the fabric and the skin.