As technology advances, humans feel more confident around the force of nature – and it certainly won’t be their outfit to stop them! Neoprene is one of those game-changing materials that have been enabling people around the world to go deeper into the seas, withstand extreme temperatures, and go beyond their own limits.
Today, Neoprene is one of the most versatile and efficient fabrics on the market, especially when used for outerwear and sportswear. Yet, Neoprene, as we know it today, has been on the market for just under a century – newer fabrics have started to compete with the timeless efficiency of Neoprene. Discover the options for your new products here.
What Is Neoprene Fabric?
Neoprene is a patented material originally produced by DuPont Corporation. The international brand made known to the world polychloroprene, a durable, elastic, and versatile material used as a substitute for rubber. This synthetic material has one property among many that make it stand out from the rest – it is entirely waterproof.
This characteristic has made it a prime fabric to create garments designed to protect in extreme environments, regulate temperature, and insulate against the elements. From wetsuits to protective apparel, Neoprene has always been regarded as an exceptionally versatile fabric. Here’s what you need to know about using Neoprene for your next project.
Where Does Neoprene Come From?
In the 20th century, a global rubber shortage made chemists and corporations look into synthetic materials to fulfill the demand of industrial giants. Established companies such as DuPont led the research into synthetic compounds, thanks to the partnership with luminaries of academic bodies such as the University of Notre Dame. The company’s experiments were successful, and they were able to release new material into the global market in 1930. The new material, which goes by the scientific name of polychloroprene, belongs to the family of plastics and it is today better known by its commercial name – Neoprene.
*How Is Neoprene Fabric Made And Turned into Products?
As we have seen, Neoprene was used as a substitute for rubber and played a critical role in manufacturing during and after the First World War. Today, this substance is mainly used for wetsuit production and protective gear design.
Neoprene comes from the processing of petroleum. Thus, it is characterized as a petrochemical substance. However, the potential of this compound is close to unlimited linkage. After polymerization, natural chloroprene is turned into synthetic polychloroprene (Neoprene). While the initial and final substances are very similar from a chemical viewpoint, they have different features and properties.
The raw materials of Neoprene are in liquid form, and are filled in barrels then delivered to processing plants. Based on formula, necessary additives will be added in the liquid to promote its physical properties. Afterwards, the solution is baked in an industrial oven and turns hard. The hardened Neoprene “loaf” is cut in slices. Depending on how thick the slices of Neoprene are when processed, manufacturers will work with sheets that vary in thickness from 3mm to 5mm.
The sliced Neoprene will be sent to a clothing manufacturer. The last step of the process involves sewing together the various slices to create the desired product.
*Sewport Support Team. (2021, July 21). What is Neoprene Fabric: Properties, How its Made and Where[Web log post]. Retrieved from https://sewport.com/fabrics-directory/neoprene-fabric
What Are the Benefits of Neoprene Fabric?
Neoprene is an extremely durable and versatile material. Thanks to its manufacturing process, this compound assumes certain features that make it unique.
In fact, Neoprene is waterproof and resistant to a range of environmental and chemical factors, including oxidation, ozone, UV rays, and polluting agents. What’s more is that Neoprene is resistant to drastic temperature changes, which allow it to remain elastic, flexible, and, if worn, comfortable in temperatures ranging from -40 °C to +120 °C.
Some of the main benefits of Neoprene include the following:
- Impermeability or water resistance – made of petroleum, Neoprene is entirely waterproof and moisture resistant. Whether in water or adverse environmental conditions, Neoprene fabric creates an impenetrable barrier against the external elements. This is one of the essential features of Neoprene, but it also comes with its most significant downside: no breathability.
- Provides Insulation – by protecting from environmental elements, chemical compounds, and weather conditions, Neoprene is a highly insulating material used in extreme conditions.
- Elasticity and versatility – as we have seen, Neoprene benefits from a wide range of temperatures in which it remains elastic and flexible. This property – coupled with the fact that this fabric is formed and not woven – makes Neoprene highly versatile.
- Thermo-regulating – as we have seen, Neoprene is insulating, but it can also retain heat. By being able to absorb and retain the heat from the body, Neoprene allows athletes and outdoors people to explore in extreme conditions.
Modern Neoprene also boasts other vital features, including:
- Overs UV and chemical resistance from solvents, petroleum-based fuels, and oils
- It is highly durable
- It is tear and abrasion-resistant
- It can be fire-resistant
These advantages are enough to convince manufacturers to leverage Neoprene. However, this compound comes with downsides that are worth considering:
- It is high in price
- It does not offer protection against esters, ketone, and oxidizing acids
- It cannot be an electrical insulator as it absorbs water over time
- It is not breathable and more suitable for short-term wearing
- Neoprene is harmful to the environment.
Application for Neoprene Fabric
As we have seen, Neoprene comes with a constellation of features that makes it a prime material for many projects. From sportswear to apparel, gear, and equipment, this material has never struggled to find new uses.
And, since it does not degrade like natural rubber, it can safely be used for long-term projects that require a reliable material at its core. Naturally, the uses of Neoprene are constantly changing, but some of the traditional uses of this material include:
- Apparel (belts and jackets)
- Wire insulation
- Sports Gear
- Mouse Pads
- Scuba diving and surfing gear
- Electronic cases
- Sports bras
- Lunch bags
- Gloves and medical gloves
There are only a few of the common ways in which Neoprene is used, but the military and manufacturing industry also has many other uses for this material.
Why Choose ARIAPRENE® for Neoprene Fabric Solution?
As we have seen, Neoprene is a tried and tested solution for those projects that require a versatile and durable material. Nonetheless, this fabric has been on the market for over a century, and, in the meanwhile, other, more efficient solutions have been made available.
Among these, there is ARIAPRENE®, an innovative, eco-friendly, and breathable alternative that has just as many uses as Neoprene – without the downsides.
What Is ARIAPRENE®?
Unlike Neoprene, ARIAPRENE® does not derive from the processing of petroleum. Instead, this material derives from chemical pellets, which are processed to create an elastic, breathable, and insulating closed-cell foam. ARIAPRENE® requires baking and forming using specialized machinery. Thanks to this characteristic, manufacturers can give ARIAPRENE® the desired shape and are never limited by the material’s initial features.
Thanks to this unique approach, ARIAPRENE® can maintain all of its core characteristics while also assuming the texture, color, and functionality desired by the manufacturer.
Being highly versatile and insulating, this material is slowly replacing classic Neoprene in various industries, from manufacturing to healthcare, sports and athletics, and apparel.
Benefits of ARIAPRENE®
Like Neoprene, ARIAPRENE® is insulating and resistant to various external factors, such as UV rays, certain chemical compounds, and pollutants. However, this material also boasts some unique benefits that have made it preferable over Neoprene. Here are the most important ones:
- They are hypoallergenic – Most wetsuit and water sports gear today is made of Neoprene. While this ensures standards, it can also create a significant challenge for those allergic to this petrochemical compound. Oppositely, since it is not petroleum-based, ARIAPRENE® is hypoallergenic and suitable for all.
- Breathable – unlike Neoprene, ARIAPRENE® is breathable, meaning that it will not irritate the skin and can be used in instances where airflow is still necessary.
- Non-toxic – Neoprene is defined as non-toxin, but dangerous toxins are released during the manufacturing process. ARIAPRENE® is just as safe while also avoiding toxic chemical processing during the manufacturing process.
- Lightweight – ARIAPRENE® uses a closed-cell structure with mesh layers, which allows it to be much thinner and lightweight than Neoprene.
- It is quick-drying – offering moisture-wicking properties; ARIAPRENE® can be used in various applications in which the fabric is required to remain dry, healthy, and breathable.
- It is highly insulating – just like Neoprene, ARIAPRENE® can be successfully used to manufacture sports gear and apparel, especially for the equipment needed to face extreme environmental conditions.
ARIAPRENE® and Sustainability
Perhaps, the most important benefit of choosing ARIAPRENE® over Neoprene is the minimal environmental impact. In fact, as we have seen, Neoprene is a petrochemical compound derived from the processing of petroleum.
Aside from releasing dangerous toxins during the manufacturing process, Neoprene is not recyclable, biodegradable, and highly polluting. This is especially true if it is used for wetsuits and water sports gears, from which microplastics can pollute the surrounding water body.
ARIAPRENE® is the most eco-friendly alternative to Neoprene. ARIAPRENE® does not involve harmful substances, and it is made to be entirely recyclable.
Thanks to these properties, ARIAPRENE® can safely be used to make footwear, backpack straps and back support, and other equipment. And, more importantly, this benefit does cause you to compromise between sustainability and efficiency – ARIAPRENE® is highly insulating, comfortable, and durable!
As consumers continue to switch to more sustainable options, ARIAPRENE® has become a viable option for future, long-lasting, and eco-friendly manufacturing projects.