The Evolution and Benefits of Neoprene - Kent Elastomer Products

The Evolution and Benefits of Neoprene

What is Neoprene?

Neoprene, or polychloroprene, refers to a family of synthetic rubbers. These synthetic rubbers are the product of the polymerization of chloroprene and are among the very first synthetic rubbers ever to be developed.


When Was Neoprene Developed?

The roots of neoprene can be traced back to the 1920s, when demand was growing for a synthetic alternative to natural rubber latex. Julius Arthur Nieuwland, a professor of chemistry at the University of Notre Dame, was researching acetylene chemistry when he produced divinyl acetylene, a jelly that firms into an elastic compound.

Several years later, Nieuwland met Dr. Elmer K. Bolton, a chemist and research director at DuPont. Bolton was already investigating the development of synthetic polymers and invited Nieuwland to join his team as a consultant. He purchased the patent rights to Nieuwland’s discovery, and the team worked together to advance the work Nieuwland had already done. In 1928, a Harvard University instructor named Wallace Carothers took over leadership of the project. Just a year later, the team landed on a new material that was resistant to both chemicals and light, variables that were detrimental to its earlier iterations.

In 1931, DuPont formally launched the material under the name DuPrene at the Rubber Division of the American Chemical Society.


Neoprene: A Material of Many Names

It’s worth noting that, in those early days, DuPont did not make any products that contained DuPrene. They simply sold the material to manufacturers of end products. The DuPrene trademark applied only to the material sold by DuPont.

In 1937, the material was given its more generic name, neoprene. DuPont’s goal in doing so was “to signify that the material is an ingredient, not a finished consumer product.”

By 1939, sales of neoprene were generating over $300,000 in annual profits for DuPont, equivalent to $6,550,521 in 2023.


What Are The Properties And Uses of Neoprene?

Neoprene material offers a number of advantages that can be greatly beneficial to a wide variety of applications and make it a superior choice to natural rubber latex and other synthetic rubbers, depending on need.


In general, neoprene tends to be stronger and harder than natural rubber latex. Neoprene offers strong resistance to physical failures like cuts and tears and is resistant to damage caused by abrasion, flexing and twisting. It has excellent tensile strength properties and superior adhesion to fabrics and metals.


Neoprene offers superior resistance to oils and solvents when compared to natural rubber latex. Neoprene is highly resistant to heat, chemicals, UV light, fats, and oils and remains stable and flexible over a wide range of temperatures, from -40°C (-40°F) to 120°C (248°F). Neoprene is also flame resistant.

Neoprene is quite resistant to water, though the answer to the question, “Is neoprene waterproof?” is somewhat complex. Generally, neoprene offers excellent water resistance, though some types of neoprene, namely open-cell neoprene, can absorb water over time, which affects the properties of the material. Closed-cell neoprene, however, is considered truly waterproof, since it contains no small pockets or pores and doesn’t allow water to pass through it.


Because of its water resistance and other desirable properties, neoprene is used in a wide variety of applications, ranging from consumer to industrial products. Many people are familiar with neoprene as a popular material for wetsuits, scuba gear, water shoes, and other recreational equipment. But neoprene is also used in automotive and industrial hoses, military-grade materials, wire and cable insulation, and everyday office items, such as mouse pads and laptop cases. Neoprene also has many uses in the medical world and can be found in face masks, personal protective equipment (PPE), breather bags, bellows, and probe covers.

Another element of neoprene’s versatility is color. Neoprene is a natural cream color, but the compound can be color-matched to virtually any shade.


Neoprene does not contain the latex proteins found in natural rubber latex and thus poses no threat to people with sensitivities or allergies to these proteins. Additionally, neoprene responds well to sterilization, which is beneficial for healthcare settings and other environments where purity is of high importance.


Premium Neoprene Products from Kent Elastomer Products

At Kent Elastomer Products, we use neoprene to manufacture high-quality products for sports and leisure, medical, dental, laboratory, and other applications. We specialize in dip-molded neoprene products, all of which are manufactured on American soil at our state-of-the-art facilities in northeast Ohio, as well as neoprene coating for certain varieties of tubing. Our proprietary, high-performance neoprene compound meets the recommended safe levels specified in Title 2021 of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In addition to our extensive neoprene dip-molding capabilities and expertise, KEP has invested in value-add services to streamline the production process for our valued customers. We have custom packaging, labeling, and mailhouse services on site to keep your products running smoothly and simplify your supply chain.

To learn more about our neoprene compound, dip-molded neoprene products, and more, talk to a member of our team >


Related Articles

Polyisoprene: Misunderstood Alternative to Natural Rubber

People often think “natural” means safe and "synthetic” somehow means dangerous – but that’s not always the case. After all, both arsenic and mercury occur naturally and can be quite deadly while man-made vaccines save countless lives. This kind of misconception has...

read more

Natural Rubber Latex: A Beginner’s Guide

Rubber is like the superhero of the elastomer world. You encounter it every day in common products like car tires, shoe outsoles and garden hoses – but you’d never guess its secret identity! Is it man-made? Is it from another planet? Is it trying to save the world...

read more

February 2024 Anniversaries

As February is the month to celebrate love and affection, we’d like to say a heartfelt thank you to our wonderful employees on their KEP work anniversaries! Each team member brings unique skills and talents to our company – and we couldn’t do what we do without them....

read more

Talk with KEP

We're accessible any way you want.

PO Box 668
Kent, OH 44240


KEP Customized Tubing Solutions

We love a challenge.

What's yours?

Optimize efficiency?
Build a prototype?
Improve product or customer service?

Let's make it happen!