Neoprene: It’s For More Than Wetsuits

Surfers and divers are very familiar with neoprene. It’s been the material of choice for wetsuits for decades. It’s also a versatile gasket material, although used in a different form to wetsuit material. Here’s what you should know about neoprene gasketing.

Synthetic Rubber

Neoprene is a DuPont tradename for polymerized chloroprene, which is one of the synthetic rubbers developed in the 1920s and 1930s. Chloroprene is composed of carbon, hydrogen, and chlorine which produce a clear liquid. Polymerization forms the molecules into long chains that interlock to create a soft, flexible material.

Neoprene is made as a solid, (described as homogenous neoprene,) and closed-cell foam. It’s this latter version that’s used in wetsuits with the pockets providing thermal insulation. Foamed neoprene provides good cushioning and is used for gasketing as it forms a soft, waterproof seal. (Pressure-sensitive adhesive applied to one or both sides makes it easier to fix in place.)

Neoprene is also used as a binder with Aramid fibers. This results in a higher-strength neoprene gasket.

Neoprene Properties for Gaskets

Being soft, (40 – 70 Shore A durometer,) and flexible with good elastic recovery, homogenous neoprene conforms readily to mating surfaces. It has excellent water resistance, (hence the wetsuit usage,) and also withstands oils, ozone, and some acids. Food grades are available.

The practical temperature range for neoprene gasketing is -20 to 180°F. This makes it unsuitable for sealing steam or other hot fluids. A bigger limitation is a lack of strength. Depending on grade, maximum tensile strength is 900 – 1,000 psi, meaning neoprene is not suitable on its own for high-pressure applications. Bound with Aramid though, it offers much higher strength.

Ask Us About Neoprene Gasketing

Homogenous neoprene comes in sheet and roll form up to 72” wide and in a range of colors. Thicknesses range from 3/32” up to 2”. We can waterjet, flash, or die-cut neoprene to the size and shape you need. If you’re looking for inexpensive gasket material and don’t need high strength, neoprene may be the gasket material for your application. Call us to discuss.

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