A Complete Guide to Neoprene Rubber - Interplas Insights

This guide, by Seals Direct, details the history of Neoprene and explains the main advantages and disadvantages of using this rubber compound for manufacturing bespoke sealing solutions.

How is Neoprene Rubber Made? Butyl Rubber

A Complete Guide to Neoprene Rubber - Interplas Insights

When demand for natural rubber exceeded supply, scientists looked to develop a low cost synthetic alternative. In 1930 DuPoint purchased a patent focused on acetylene chemistry. This research discovered that a jelly-like substance called divinyl acetylene, when combined with sulfur dichloride, set into an elastic compound similar to natural rubber. DuPoint continued this research and later developed the synthetic rubber compound known as Neoprene. 

Today, the process of manufacturing Neoprene remains almost completely unchanged. Neoprene is created using a process called polymerisation which is a chemical reaction that creates by-products. These by-products are melted, mixed with carbon pigments and foaming agents and then baked. This process creates a Neoprene rubber compound.

The raw compound can then be used to create rubber Neoprene seals, such as extruded profiles or moulded gaskets. The extrusion process pushes the rubber compound through a tool (known as a die) which, together with pressure and temperature, extrudes the required shape. This compound can also be used to produce rubber strip or sheet for sealing, edging and cushioning applications. Large calendar rollers squash the raw compound into flat sheets which are then cut to the required thickness, width and length. 

Although the Neoprene rubber compound is initially semi-solid, it can be made into both solid and expanded sponge rubber products. During manufacturing, nucleating agents such as nitrogen or carbon dioxide are added to the compound to create a cellular structure. The gas injection rate can be adjusted to help achieve different densities and properties. This process creates what is known as expanded Neoprene, a closed-cell sponge that is often used to create watertight seals. 

Neoprene is a popular general purpose material that has been reliably used to manufacture Neoprene seals, trims and gaskets for many years. It demonstrates an excellent resistance to weathering, most substances and extreme environments making it the material of choice for sealing solutions in most industry sectors. These properties include;

As well as demonstrating excellent weathering and good general resistance, a Neoprene seal displays exceptional functional characteristics which make it an ideal material for a wide selection of automotive, marine and industrial sealing applications. These characteristics include;

Although Neoprene is an excellent material for most sealing applications, there are occasions where it would be better to use an alternative rubber compound such as Silicone or Nitrile. These include;

Types and Grades of Neoprene Rubber 

Neoprene rubber is available in a selection of types and grades suitable for different uses and industries. As a material that can be manufactured into both sponge and solid variants, Neoprene offers a solution to most sealing applications. It can be blended with other rubber compounds, such as SBR and EPDM, to reduce the cost and improve resistance and stability.

Seals Direct are a leading supplier of Custom Rubber Seals for most industry sectors. They are able to manufacture bespoke extrusions from an existing sample or technical drawing in a range of materials including Neoprene, EPDM, Silicone and PVC.

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A Complete Guide to Neoprene Rubber - Interplas Insights

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