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Neoprene Vs. Natural Rubber

Updated March 23, 2017

Neoprene and natural rubber are both polymers, although neoprene is synthetic. Natural rubber is extracted from a tree and is sensitive to temperature changes. Heavy demand led to the development of synthetic materials like neoprene, with similar but superior properties.

Natural Rubber

Natural rubber came into widespread use in the 19th century for products such as tires, waterproof fabrics and boots, according to the International Institute of Synthetic Rubber Producers. The rubber was found to become brittle in cold weather and sticky in hot weather.

Vulcanisation

Vulcanisation refers to a process which forms crosslinks of sulphur in rubber. According to the website American Chemistry, it makes neoprene stronger, more elastic and more resistant to heat as well as oil, solvents and water.

Neoprene Products

Neoprene is used for many things including footwear, wetsuits, adhesives and asphalt products. The number of sulphur cross-inks between the chloroprene molecules in neoprene alters its hardness and strength, resulting in different products for different uses.

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About the Author

Lexa W. Lee is a New Orleans-based writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has contributed to "Central Nervous System News" and the "Journal of Naturopathic Medicine," as well as several online publications. Lee holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from Reed College, a naturopathic medical degree from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine and served as a postdoctoral researcher in immunology.