Nature gave us one of the best gasket materials possible — rubber. Natural rubber can stretch and has the same elasticity in all directions, something wholly unique to the material.
But the problem with natural rubber is that it can degrade over time — just like anything from nature — and while it does offer specific resistances, it can be vulnerable to oils and chemicals. That means it doesn't always make the best choice for gasketing material. That's where neoprene steps in.
Neoprene is a hugely popular and widely used material for gasketing material. You're probably experiencing it in your house or workplace at this very instant. Neoprene gasket chemical resistance, in particular, is quite impressive, which is one of its biggest draws.
Let's dive into what you need to know about neoprene before choosing your gasketing material.
What is Neoprene?
Neoprene was the answer to the need for rubber products when natural rubber was in extreme demand in 1930. It's a synthetic substitute for rubber that was developed to fill many of the same roles that rubber had up to that point.
The original title of neoprene is polychloroprene because it is made of polymerized chloroprene. Once that chemical reaction is complete, it's vulcanized for added strength.
Neoprene is best known for its impressive strength, flexibility, and resistance to many chemicals and harsh environments, making it an ideal material for gasketing in all industries.
What is Neoprene Resistant To?
Neoprene is celebrated for its resistance to petroleum-based concoctions. This includes many greases, solvents, and oils. It can also withstand methyl and ethyl alcohols, certain salt mixtures, and some alkaline solutions.
Neoprene can stand up to temperatures as hot as 275° F. This heat resistance is one of its most significant advantages over natural rubber, along with its lower gas permeability. It won't physically degrade when exposed to high temperatures for extended periods like natural rubber can. Instead, it'll stiffen. Its heat resistance even carries over to actual flame resistance: Neoprene is self-extinguishing.
Neoprene can technically hold up against temperatures as low as -50° F. However, it's essential to understand that it becomes less functional when neoprene is used in temperatures below zero. It physically may hold up, but it'll likely no longer do what you need it to, so it's best to keep temps on the plus side with neoprene.
Take it outside — sunlight and ozone are no match for neoprene! The material is highly rated for how it holds up in outdoor environments. Its oxidation rate is low and won't absorb moisture, so it can be counted on for prolonged outdoor use.
In addition to its high resistance properties, neoprene is a very extensible material. This makes it useful for many different gaskets, but that flexibility must be considered during the manufacturing process before it's used to seal something up.
When it's time to cut neoprene into shape, its elongation must be factored in. If it is stretched out as it's cut into shape, it'll fall back to its original form and won't end up in its intended size. Any die cutting methods have to be carefully plotted out and performed with neoprene to ensure you get the right shape and size for your gasket, which can be tricky.
Ideal Uses for Neoprene
While the flexibility can sometimes pose challenges during the conversion process, the material's elastic properties can be advantageous.
Neoprene is ideal for something that is frequently in motion thanks to its elasticity — something that's active and requires cushioning and impact absorption.
Regarding mechanical bonding, neoprene can meld with a spectrum of different materials like copper, brass, titanium, and cotton. With certain additives, neoprene can even combine with glass or acrylic.
Its heat, cold, and weather resistance make it a great material to use for items that may be exposed to harsher conditions. You'll find neoprene in many electronics to help protect the sensitive chips and wiring, and its heat resistance allows it to tolerate the gadgetry heating up during use.
Neoprene has many varied uses, including but not limited to:
- Safety gloves
- Orthopedic braces and joint supports
Due to its ability to maintain shape, neoprene can be a long-lasting aid for those with long-term care needs. In addition, the neoprene fabric's flexibility and high resistance against water, oil, and abrasions make it ideal for medical use.
- Automotive gaskets
- Engine coolants
- Petroleum tank linings
- Fan belts
- Gasoline hoses
- Motor mounts
There are many automotive applications in which neoprene can provide a solution. Neoprene is durable against silicate ester lubricants and high aniline petroleum oils, but one of its most significant benefits is weather and ozone resistance.
- Laptop shields
- Power transformers
- Freon/Air conditioning
- Light bulbs
Neoprene resists both fire and static, and as a result, it's often used as an insulator or base resin for adhesives. This thermal factor, combined with neoprene's resistance to water immersion, enables water and gas to flow through the membrane valves of a power plant. Because it has a wide temperature range, neoprene can retain movement while maintaining a strong heat resistance.
- Window and door seals
- Laptop sleeves
- Drum practice pads
- And more!
Because neoprene is resistant to a lot and offers high elasticity and force resistance, it tends to be a more expensive material.
If you're in the early stages of your project and still working out the budgeting and materials, think about what exactly you need your gasket to do. Is neoprene really the best option? You don't need to buy a machete when you only need a butter knife!
Getting Neoprene Samples Before Production
Neoprene is a high-performing gasket, but it is expensive, so you don't want to dive into mass production without knowing how neoprene will work with your design and the rest of your materials. That's why it's vital to get a sample first; we can help!
Strouse offers Sample Express — your way to see a real-world sample with minimal expense or commitment. Don't risk sinking costs into shaping out gaskets with neoprene that won't work. Instead, click on the link below and fill out the form with the details of your design. What do you have in mind for this gasket? What are its dimensions? You can even upload a drawing!
Once we've received your sample specifications, we'll get in touch and start the process of creating a sample using your design. Receive a prototype quickly and without hassle! Feel free to call us at (800)-410-8273 with any questions.