Neoprene is a synthetic rubber used in a wide variety of applications. It is similar to natural rubber, but has durability and resistance to environmental stresses that make it superior in some applications. Its flexibility, stability and other mechanical properties make it useful in everything from wetsuits to saddle pads and practice pads for drummers.
Neoprene is extremely resistant to wear and weathering. It resists damage by chemicals such as acids, ozone, oils and oxygen which can harm other types of rubber. This makes it a good rubber for applications where it will be exposed to the elements. It is also resistant to heat and can work in both cold and hot environments, although it does get stiffer in the cold. It is resistant to flame, although extremely high temperatures can damage it.
Neoprene performs well under a variety of mechanical stresses. It resists impact well, absorbing a considerable amount of force without being damaged. It also has good compression set and rebound rate; when it is compressed and released, it springs back to its original shape fairly quickly. It also resists abrasion damage and tearing and will not crack easily from repeated bending.
Uses With Other Materials
Neoprene is very useful in combination with a range of other materials. It adheres well to metal, which makes it useful for applications where the two have to be joined. It is also useful in making bandages and binders and as a coating. Manufacturers can even add it to asphalt or concrete to make elasticated pavement.
Neoprene has a number of drawbacks. It can be damaged or destroyed by a number of chemicals including kerosene, propane, toluene and methyl ethyl ketone. It also is inferior to natural rubber in creep; if it is continuously stressed, it will gradually stretch and lose its natural shape.