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What is Neoprene Rubber?

Updated May 17, 2024
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The term "neoprene rubber" is redundant because neoprene is a type of synthetic rubber. It was developed in the 1930s and since then has been incorporated into many products that are common in everyday life, such as wetsuits and protective gear. Neoprene has a variety of properties that make it quite useful, including being abrasion-resistant, chemical-resistant, waterproof, somewhat stretchable and buoyant.

One of the most common uses of neoprene rubber is for wetsuits. It also is used to make protective gloves and similar articles because it is resistant to many chemicals and oils. Neoprene's resistance to abrasion is why it is commonly used to make protective covers, such as those designed to help protect cellphones or laptop computers. It also is lightweight, which is advantageous in most of its uses.

Neoprene Wetsuits

In wetsuits, the neoprene traps water between the wetsuit and the wearer's skin. Body heat warms the water against the skin, which works to reduce heat loss from the body. This allows the wearer to comfortably stay in colder water for a longer time. Neoprene rubber also can be quite buoyant in the water. Many types of sports enthusiasts use neoprene wetsuits, including scuba divers, surfers and windsurfers.

Neoprene wetsuits come in a variety of thicknesses. Very thin wetsuits that are about one-16th of an inch (about 1.6 mm) are used to prevent abrasions and sunburns in tropical water. Thicker neoprene wetsuits, such as those that are 0.25 inches (about 6.4 mm) thick, are more insulating and are used in cold water. Although the black, head-to-toe wetsuits commonly seen on television are the images that many people have of neoprene wetsuits, they now come in many colors, lengths and styles.

Other Applications

Among the many other personal uses for neoprene are the making of products such as seat covers, ankle or knee braces, remote controls and paintball armor. Neoprene does not contain latex, but many products that are advertised as neoprene, such as gloves, braces and other items worn on the body, actually have a latex base that is covered by neoprene. These products sometimes will affect people who are allergic to latex.

Industrial Uses

There also are many industrial applications for neoprene rubber. Certain types of neoprene rubber are used in conveyor belts, hoses and seals. It also is often used in protective coverings for wiring and cables.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon960352 — On Jul 10, 2014

This article isn't entirely accurate. There are different types of neoprene available, some are made from natural rubber and some made from synthetic rubber. The neoprene made from natural rubber will contain the latex protein that people can be allergic too. There are other issues with allergies relating to the materials used on the neoprene. A wet suit or knee brace can have materials like a nylon laminate on either side of the neoprene, and that glue that is used could also contain natural rubber.

By madhuri — On Sep 02, 2013

happy to see such a great use of neoprene i would like to share Neoprene was known as an oil-resistant substitute for natural rubber. It is produced by free-radical polymerization of 2-chlorobutadine. Even if we use neoprene for our seat covers they don't heat up so much in direct sunlight and can resist moisture. It is non-flammable and they can protect us from friction.

By anon286702 — On Aug 22, 2012

I am allergic to latex and also found out that the neoprene knee brace also makes me break out in hives and itching all over. I tried an old t-shirt that I cut to fit around my knee, but when it comes in contact with my other leg or other areas I get the bad rash. Is there something else I can use?

By anon246151 — On Feb 08, 2012

I work for a company that does a lot of silkscreening and am asked if we can screen on a neoprene case used to cover the mack book, ipad,etc. What ink will hold up well on this material?

By anon229238 — On Nov 12, 2011

Does anyone know where I can find a static coefficient of friction for neoprene and aluminum?

By anon201078 — On Jul 29, 2011

Thanks for posting this article. I thought that washing would help, but the smell is still there and it gets on my skin.

By anon170687 — On Apr 27, 2011

What is the temperature (heat) resistance property of Neoprene, Can I use the Neoprene strips for sealing on a radiator where the hood/housing temperature is around 150 deg C?

By anon165653 — On Apr 05, 2011

Can you get neoprene condoms?

By anon128747 — On Nov 20, 2010

does neoprene contain colophony?

By anon128712 — On Nov 20, 2010

Is neoprene impact resistant, and can it be used to make a tough and durable mask?

By anon110091 — On Sep 10, 2010

How expensive is neoprene exactly?

By anon109236 — On Sep 06, 2010

Neoprene is somewhat resistant to flame and burns a green color.

By anon85922 — On May 22, 2010

I am allergic to latex, but have recently had chemical testing done attributing my allergy to a Thiuram mix (which includes products made of natural rubber, butyl rubber, nitrile and neoprene)and Carba mix (which includes rubber and latex materials). I was told to check everything you wear or use (even food containers) and just "don't use what you react to."

By anon74190 — On Mar 31, 2010

If I use neoprene as a cover for my laptop, could it catch on fire? I keep my laptop plugged in all night.

By anon61746 — On Jan 22, 2010

I am a +2 student I want to know why there is no hydrogen bonding in neoprene even if Cl is present.

By anon56932 — On Dec 18, 2009

i have never shown any latex allergy, but i did develop an allergy to neoprene. I get the most amazing, itchy, oozy rash whenever i am in contact with neoprene.

By anon56838 — On Dec 17, 2009

Is neoprene a good material for camera case? Please advise. thanks.

By anon51579 — On Nov 07, 2009

what happens when i burn neoprene?

By anon44135 — On Sep 04, 2009

Skyprene Y30 equivalent in Baypren - Any Name ?

How can the odor of CR e reduced/eliminated?

By anon41393 — On Aug 14, 2009

what is the benefit of using neoprene over rubber for rollers on a pipe support system? Is it price or quality? What is longer lasting?

By anon38011 — On Jul 23, 2009

is TPR and neoprene can be glue?

By anon36662 — On Jul 14, 2009

does neoprene have thermal resistance property?

By anon36047 — On Jul 09, 2009

Are neoprene and EDPM rubber considered the same thing?

By anon35127 — On Jul 02, 2009

I am confused, does neoprene contain latex??

By rg5462 — On Jun 28, 2009

I purchased a neoprene hose for my air compressor. It is located in the basement & the hose smells awful! Will the smell ever go away?

By anon32090 — On May 15, 2009

what is the benefit of using neoprene for gasket purposes in the piping system?

By dawncf — On Mar 28, 2009

Yes. I just bought two hand & wrist supports and woke up with hives all over that area. I am allergic to latex. Does it contain that in its product or could this be something new for me? I need them for sleeping at night. That is why I wear them. Please get back to me. Wore them two nights in a row and both nights had the same reaction.



By noblesj — On Apr 22, 2008

I am selling neoprene rubber reusable lunch totes, made by NYBuilt, as a fundraiser for my school. After reading this article, though, I am nervous because we are a LATEX FREE school. Would kids having these lunch totes cause a reaction in kids with latex allergies even if they don't touch it? I know that sometimes the "powder" that comes out of latex can effect the air quality for allergic kids. Does anyone know about this?

By anon8143 — On Feb 08, 2008

Are there types of neoprene such as those used for vibration mounts, that are not Prop65 compliant?

By anon7646 — On Jan 31, 2008

I find that soaking the neoprene after every use helps to reduce the smell, if you leave it in fresh water for an hour or two then you should be able to sort it out.

By anon7394 — On Jan 25, 2008

What type of ink pen can I use to permanently write on neoprene? I have golf club covers and sometimes they get wet.

By JWealth — On Jan 24, 2008

I would like to know how safe is this material. I recently purchased a pair of shorts to help with exercise and weight loss and I can hardly stand the smell. It is such a horrible smell and it makes me nauseated. I thought that washing would help, but the smell is still there and it gets on my skin. Is this safe?

By anon4745 — On Oct 30, 2007

I am a nurse with Latex Allergy. I came into contact with neoprene as a nurse and had a reaction to it. Bad one. I contacted the company and talked to their nurse who told me they had other nurses who were reacting to latex were reacting to it when I called to ask if the product contained latex in it.

By anon4261 — On Oct 10, 2007

Would this be suitable for a sealing washer for Keel bolts?

By anon4158 — On Oct 05, 2007

My mother is allergic to latex and also has a very allergic reaction to Neoprene, making it impossible to wear the braces on the market for knees, ankles, elbows etc.

By anon2161 — On Jun 30, 2007

Could you do an iron on transfer onto neoprene or would the heat melt it?

By anon900 — On May 08, 2007

I, too, am highly allergic to latex, and I have no adverse reactions to Neoprene whatsoever.

By anon417 — On Apr 24, 2007

If I am higly alergic to latex, do you thing that I would react to neoprene? I would appreciate hearing from you. [email address removed] Thanks deeply for your help!

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