Uses & Benefits
Today, neoprene is used in a wide variety of applications including medical, automotive, building and construction, aquatics and electronics.
Medical Uses and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Because neoprene is flexible and able to maintain its shape over time, it can be used to make padding for wrist and knee orthopedic braces. Laboratory personnel who handle chemicals may use synthetic rubber gloves made of neoprene—which tend to offer good pliability, finger dexterity, high-density and tear resistance—to protect their hands from extended chemical contact. Gloves made with neoprene can help protect the wearer’s hands from hydraulic fluids, gasoline, alcohols, organic acids and alkalis.
Due to its abrasion-, tear-, oil- and weather-resistant properties, neoprene rubber is used to make auto parts, such as fan belts, hose covers, shock absorber seals, and breaking and steering system components. Neoprene fabrics are also commonly used to make car seat covers.
Building and Construction
Neoprene has a low oxidation rate and is used in a variety of building applications, including electrical insulation, adhesives and asphalt products. Thick neoprene-bearing pads are used in construction to endure the pressure of heavy weights and loads. Neoprene’s chemical inertness helps it resist impacts from weather, ozone and other outdoor variables, as well as withstand petroleum-based mixtures such as solvents, oils and greases.
Neoprene bearing pads are also used in bridges as a safety mechanism. They give bridges flexibility to minimize damage caused by movements. Because it is stable and unreactive, neoprene can also be used to make corrosion-resistant coatings and as a base for adhesives.
Due to its fire- and static-resistance properties, neoprene can be used as an insulator in power transformers, light bulbs and other electrical applications. Neoprene is also used in sealing gaskets for electricity to provide waterproof sealing, heat and static resistance and keep dust and contaminants out.
Aquatics and Scuba Fabrics
Neoprene is used to make wetsuits and fly fishing waders because it helps provide insulation against the cold. Wetsuits made from closed cell foam neoprene can provide insulation against cold water by trapping heat in the suit.
Neoprene’s cushioning abilities make it ideal for laptop sleeves and protection for other electronics. It is also used for exercise equipment as a soft coating for hand weights.