What Is The Difference Between EPDM And Neoprene?
What Is Neoprene? History of Neoprene
Neoprene, also known as polychloroprene, is one of the first man-made rubber products ever made. It is favored because it has greater strength and solvent resistance than natural rubber.
The development of neoprene, and other synthetic rubbers, in the 1920s came as a result of the spiked price of natural rubber due to high demand for it. In 1930, scientists from DuPont Group produced a rubber-like substance during a polymerization experiment using chloroprene.
Then in 1931, DuPont marketed this material under the name Duprene. Because it was more resistant to solvents, moisture, oils, and heat, it found good use in making pipes, gaskets, wires, and insulation for industrial use.
The synthetic rubber was refined further to eliminate the strong odors and to reduce manufacturing costs, after which DuPont began supplying it as a raw material to end-product manufacturers.
In 1937, DuPont dropped the trade name ‘Duprene’ and replaced it with ‘neoprene’ to signify that the material was a raw material, not a finished consumer product. Manufacturers used it to make consumer goods like gloves and soles, but when World War II broke out, neoprene was no longer available to the commercial market as all of it was being claimed for military use.
After the war,World War II, Dupont purchased and took over a government-owned neoprene plant to keep up with the increasing demand for neoprene. The material has remained largely unchanged since the 1950’s and is still used to this day to make tubing, adhesives, sealants, transmission belts, etc.
Properties Of Neoprene
- Oil resistance
- Water resistance
- Oxygen and ozone resistance
- Good heat resistance
- Good tear resistance
- Excellent adhesion to metal and rigid materials
- Good resistance to chemicals and solvents
Due to its abrasion resistance, neoprene is used in the automotive industry to manufacture parts like belts, shock absorber pads, tubing and seals.
What Is Neoprene Used For?
Due to its abrasion-, heat-, weather-, and solvent resistance, neoprene is used in the automotive industry to manufacture parts like belts, shock absorber seals, CVJ boots, power transmission belts, vibration mounts, etc. Fabric made from neoprene is also commonly used to make car seat covers.
Medical and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Neoprene’s lightness and flexibility makes it an ideal material for making medical gear such as joint padding and braces. Gloves made with neoprene are also widely available as they not only protect from chemicals but also offer good pliability, grip, high-density and tear resistance. These gloves are able to withstand exposure to different chemicals including motor fluids, gasoline, organic acids and alkalis.
Building and Construction
Neoprene has a low oxidation rate and is used in a variety of building applications, including electrical insulation, and noise isolation. Neoprene pads can be embedded into the building structure to provide the load-transferring contact surface between two components, such as a beam and the substructure, and also to absorb vibration and prevent sound transmission. The chemically inert nature of neoprene helps it to resist adhesives and curing agents, among other construction chemicals.
Neoprene pads are also useful in bridges as they can absorb horizontal movement in multiple directions, thereby preventing structural damage in case of strong winds or storms.
Because neoprene is more fire resistant than hydrocarbon-based rubbers, it can be used for fire doors. Also, because it is chemically stable and water-resistant, neoprene can be used to make waterproofing layers and corrosion-resistant coatings. Neoprene, in the form of a foam strip, or foam tape, offers a solution to air and water leakage issues, and is commonly used for glazing applications.
Due to its resistance to fire and static electricity, neoprene is used in electrical insulation. Neoprene is also used to make sealing gaskets that are waterproof and heat resistant.
Aquatics and Scuba Fabrics
Wet suits and waders made using neoprene are breathable, stretchable, and offer good heat insulation.
Pros and Cons of Neoprene
|Load absorption / cushioning||Not compatible with strong acids or esters|
|Good heat insulation||Not compatible with ketones or nitro hydrocarbons|
|Good resistance to water and chemicals|
|Weather / Ozone resistant|
What Is EPDM?
EPDM, short for ethylene propylene diene monomer, is a type of synthetic rubber. It is used in low-slope or flat roofing applications.
In order to understand what EPDM is, we first have two identify the two major types of rubber: natural rubber, and synthetic rubber.
Synthetic rubber is defined as ‘any elastomer that is artificially made’. In other words, it is any man-made polymer that is viscous (thick) and elastic (stretchy). It is superior to natural rubber in two major respects, thermal stability and resistance to oils and related compounds.
How Is EPDM Manufactured?
EPDM, like other synthetic rubbers, is made by polymerizing the by-products of crude oil processing. One such by-product is isoprene, which is polymerized to produce cis-1,4-polyisoprene—a synthetic version of natural rubber.
However, EPDM, like other rubbers, has poor mechanical properties. To combat this, EPDM is usually compounded with fillers (such as fumed silica) and plasticisers (such as mineral oils) in order to increase its strength and flexibility.
Properties Of EPDM
- Resistant to high temperatures
- Adaptable to low temperatures
- UV resistant
- Steam resistant
- Resistant to weathering
- Flexible – 600% elongation and a tensile range of 500-2500 psi
Where Is EPDM Mainly Used?
The automotive industry is where EPDM is used most. The waterproof nature and all-weather resistance of EPDM make it an ideal material for sealing the seams in vehicles. This includes door seals, window seals, trunks seals, and hood seals. Because of its durability and ability to withstand friction, EPDM is also used in the blades of windshield wipers.
Additionally, EPDM finds use in the tubings of the water pumps, thermostats, EGR valves, oil coolers, radiators, etc. It is a favorable material to make such hoses because of its resistance to high and low temperatures, as well as its ability to accommodate various chemicals and oils without breaking down.
EPDM linings are also sold as aftermarket accessories for vehicle owners who want to protect their cars from weather. These linings are especially RV or trailers because they are always exposed to all types of weather.
Among other characteristics, the flexibility and toughness of EPDM lend it well to being used in harsh environments such as factories and laboratories. EPDM is fairly unreactive with many low strength industry chemicals and gases, which is why it is used in things such as face masks for industrial respirators. EPDM’s low electrical conductivity also makes it suitable to be used as insulation in electrical components. EPDM is also used to make various tubings, gaskets, belts, diaphragms, grommets and geomembranes are also made using EPDM.
Roofing is one of the main application areas of EPDM. It is loved because it can withstand UV rays, hailstorms, strong winds, and other extreme conditions.
EPDM roofing is much more common in the Northern climate areas than Southern climate areas since Northern areas are cooler.. Its heat absorption and insulation properties help to keep interiors warm and also to melt snow on the rooftops.
A disadvantage of EPDM in roofing is that it can shrink over time, leading to leaks and costly repairs. However, if installed correctly and in the right climate, EPDM roofing can last up to 40 years.
Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Cooling (HVAC)
For HVAC systems to perform well and reliably, the right materials need to be used. Materials that are accessible, insert, and allow for a large temperature range, EPDM fits the bill.
Noisy air conditioning systems are a common complaint among consumers. EPDM has a density that makes it a good sound insulator. Using it within HVAC systems helps to deaden the vibrations of the motors and fans.
EPDM is useful in cooling and heating systems that require connections to be air and water-tight, but still maintain flexibility.
For devices that are exposed to the elements, such as air conditioning units, their damage can be prevented by using EPDM gaskets, grommets, and ductings which are resistant to UV radiation, moisture, oxidizing agents, among other environmental factors.
The structure of EPDM is that of tightly packed molecules. This is why it provides such good barriers against escape or passage of liquids and gases. As such it is a good seal for water and gas tanks, even ponds.
EPDM is a good alternative to metal for sealing in moisture-rich environments because it can’t rust. EPDM also doesn’t harbor microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, or leeches.
Pros and Cons of EPDM
|Steam and water resistant||May be difficult to adhere to some materials|
|Good electrical resistance||Not compatible with most oils or acids|
|Remains stable across a large range of temperatures|
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