When is neoprene rubber the right choice for sealing and insulation? This synthetic elastomer isn’t new, and chemists have created many other materials since neoprene was invented in 1930. Yet neoprene offers an excellent balance of properties, especially for industrial rubber products that require resistance to hydrocarbons, heat, flexing, and vibration.
In this article from Elasto Proxy, you’ll learn how neoprene offers advantages for a variety of applications. Engineers and buyers can specify various types of neoprene rubber, including grades that are approved or certified according to regulatory requirements or industry standards. You’ll also learn how neoprene rubber materials support custom fabrication for seals, gaskets, and insulation.
Neoprene or polychlorprene is a family of synthetic rubbers that’s produced by the polymerization of chloroprene, an organic compound. For sealing and insulation, neoprene offers these advantages:
- Resistance to petroleum-based products such as oils and greases
- Physical toughness, including resistance to damage from twisting or flexing
- Resistance to ozone, water, weather, and a wide range of indoor and outdoor temperatures
- Polymerization that supports custom compounds with specialized material properties
Neoprene also exhibits good chemical stability, especially with solvents. This oil-resistant rubber supports the use of adhesives and provides cushioning, abrasion resistance, and protection against vibration.
Neoprene products are used in mobile equipment, defense, medical and healthcare, stainless steel and food equipment, infrastructure, and aerospace applications.
Heavy trucks, ambulances, military land systems, aircraft refueling systems, the mass transit industry, and makers of mining, construction, and forestry equipment use neoprene components such as:
- Vibration mounts
- Shock absorber seals
- Hose covers
- Power transmission belts
- Tail light seals
Buildings, bridges, electrical systems, and industrial machinery applications use neoprene parts such as:
- Seals for windows, HVAC units, and electrical or electronic enclosures
- Expansion joints and bearing pads
- Noise isolators in power transformers
- Weather stripping for fire doors
The medical and healthcare industry uses neoprene rubber for orthopedic braces and supports. Because neoprene is latex-free, allergic reactions and skin irritation are minimized. Antimicrobial neoprene that prevents the growth of bacteria, fungi, and yeasts is available for medical and food processing applications. Neoprene rubber is also used for cushioning with medical instrument cases.
Neoprene Approvals and Materials
Commodity rubber is less expensive, but neoprene with specific approvals or certifications are required for some applications. Examples include:
- UL 94 for flame resistant gaskets in electronic devices and electrical enclosures
- ASTM E162 for surface flammability and ASTM C11166 for flame propagation in railcars
- SMP 800C for toxic gas generation in the mass transit industry (subways, buses, and trains)
- FDA approved neoprene for medical devices and equipment
- MIL-G-1149 and MIL-R-15624 for military applications
- AMS 3205 low-temperature and AMS 3208 weather-resistant neoprene for aerospace
Neoprene rubber is supplied as sheets, rolls, and profiles in various durometers and colors. Neoprene fabric is also available. Neoprene supports molding and extrusion, and comes in solid, sponge, and foam materials. Open cell neoprene contains interconnected pockets so that air, water, and other gases or fluids can pass through when the elastomer is not compressed. Closed cell neoprene is waterproof.
Custom-Fabricated Neoprene Products
Neoprene seals, gaskets, and insulation are custom-fabricated via water jet cutting, lamination, joining, and taping. Water jet cutting is ideal for prototyping and low-to-medium volume production because there’s no tooling or waiting for tooling. Lamination bonds neoprene sheets or fabrics into multi-layer, composite structures. Joining connects or splices the corners of cut lengths into finished gaskets. Taped neoprene gaskets support peel-and-stick installation for temporary or permanent fastening.
Find Neoprene Rubber Seals, Gaskets, and Insulation
Do you need neoprene rubber products for sealing and insulation? Elasto Proxy is an experienced custom-fabricator that provides design assistance, help with compound selection, and value-added services such as custom packaging, parts marking, and warehousing. To learn more, contact us.