The Evolution and Benefits of Neoprene

What is Neoprene?

Neoprene (polychloroprene) is a family of synthetic rubbers that are produced by polymerization of chloroprene.

From versatile dip-molding uses to great durability for outdoor products, neoprene offers excellent resistance and versatility. At Kent Elastomer Products, Inc. we use neoprene compounds to manufacture high-quality products that are great for use in many industries including sports & leisure, medical and more. 

When was Neoprene developed?

First developed in the 1930s, neoprene was created as an oil-resistant substitute for natural latex rubber. Neoprene was the first commercially available synthetic elastomer. The early roots of this compound can be seen in the work of Julius Arthur Nieuwland, a professor of chemistry at the University of Notre Dame whose research was focused on acetylene chemistry. During his research, he produced divinyl acetylene, a jelly that firms into an elastic compound.

This was just the beginning of neoprene’s formation and introduction commercially. This early compound created by Nieuwland was discussed in a lecture where Dr Elmer K. Bolton of DuPont was in attendance. During this time DuPont had a strong focus on materials science, and working on developing more innovative polymers. DuPont purchased the patent rights from the university for Nieuwland invention. Then Wallace Carothers, hired by DuPont to work on polymers in 1928, took over the commercial development of Nieuwland’s discovery in collaboration with Nieuwland himself.

Another scientist at DuPont, Arnold Collins further evolved the material when he focused on monovinyl acetylene and allowed it to react with hydrogen chloride gas. Following this breakthrough is when DuPont officially invented chloroprene, or neoprene.


Neoprene: A Material of Many Names

DuPont first marketed the compound in 1931 under the trade name DuPrene. After they began distributing this material to manufacturers of finished end-products, the trademark DuPrene was restricted to apply only to the material sold by DuPont.

The company itself did not manufacture any DuPrene-containing end products, and on December 11, 1936, the material was renamed “neoprene,” a term to be used generically. DuPont believed the new term would help “to signify that the material is an ingredient, not a finished consumer product.” By 1939, sales of neoprene were generating profits over $300,000 for DuPont thanks to its use in a wide variety of industries. That number is equivalent to $5,277,990 in 2017!


Advantages and Uses of Neoprene

This material offers many advantages over natural rubber latex and other synthetic compounds.


Neoprene is created in a natural cream color, but at KEP we can match to virtually any color specification.


Neoprene offers a high level of protection from oxidizing agents such as alcohols, oils, and acids and is resistant to all acetonic solvents.


Neoprene offers strong resistance to physical failures like cuts and is resistant to damage caused by abrasion, flexing and twisting. It also does not degrade in the presence of sun, ozone or weather and features excellent adhesion to fabrics and metals.


Neoprene is flame-resistant and maintains physical integrity in high temperatures.


Neoprene exhibits good chemical stability and maintains flexibility over a wide temperature range. Neoprene’s polymer structure can be modified to create a material compound with a wide range of chemical and physical properties, depending on product needs.


The Neoprene You Need

At KEP we create high-quality neoprene rubber compounds used in dip-molded products that span a wide range of industries including medical, dental, laboratory, sports & leisure and more.

Talk to our experts about the product you want to manufacture and we’ll help you determine if neoprene is the best material for the project, then we’ll get to work to create the prototype that fits your company’s needs and industry’s demands.


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