Neoprene is a family of synthetic rubbers that are produced by polymerization of chloroprene. During the 1920s the increasing demand for natural rubber led to higher and higher prices, sparking a search for an equivalent synthetic rubber. It was during 1930 that Wallace Carothers, a chemist in DuPont’s fundamental research group produced a rubber-like substance during a polymerization experiment using Chloroprene. DuPont improved both the manufacturing process and the end product throughout the 1930s. The original manufacturing process left the product with a foul odor so, as a consequence a new process was developed. This not only eliminated the odor-causing byproducts it also halved production costs.
This compound in general has good chemical stability, and maintains flexibility over a wide temperature range. Resistant to salt water, mineral oils and grease. Valued also for its resistance to degradation by oxygen and ozone. However, its high cost can tend to limit its use to special-properties applications.
The relative inertness of Neoprene makes it well suited for demanding applications such as Gaskets, Hoses and corrosion-resistant coatings. Furthermore it is widely utilised in automotive fan belts and the glue industry.
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