Used as an alternative to rubber and latex, these gaskets are similar to Teflon gaskets because neoprene is also an inert substance and can withstand large amounts of chemical flow without breaking down. As a result, neoprene gaskets are commonly used in the automotive industry; particularly in vehicle engines, belts and hoses.
Oil and gasoline are constantly used to help vehicles run properly, and in order to keep those chemicals from leaking, a flexible, highly durable gasket material is needed, making neoprene ideal for those applications.
Neoprene gaskets are also frequently used in the electrical insulation industry because they provide such a strong, dependable seal. They are optimal in low-pressure, low-temperature environments, though they are made to withstand a variety of temperatures, ranging from around -40° to 230° F.
Though polyurethane foam and nitrile rubber can be used as gasket material alternatives, neoprene is highly beneficial because it is also waterproof and weather-resistant, which polyurethane and nitrile are not. Neoprene is also the most flexible material out of the three and will not break or tear easily; it is a resilient material and is meant to be stretched and twisted, which makes it ideal for gasket use.
Neoprene, also known as polychloroprene, is the polymerized version of chloroprene. There are two main types of neoprene: closed cell and open cell. With closed cell, which is also known as expanded, the material cells hold gases that block out moisture, dirt and other contaminants.
During the manufacturing process, a chemical blowing agent is added, which generates nitrogen gas as it decomposes under heat and pressure. As this happens, the material is placed in the oven to expand. Once it is about two to four inches thick, it is aged and cut into sheets. This type of neoprene works better in terms of actually blocking out the elements, and shows better weather resistance.
Open cell neoprene is similar to the closed cell type, but instead the cells are cut open, which exposes the cell surface and allows for more stretch/flexibility. This factor is beneficial when it comes to making the gasket and forming it to adhere to a surface; however, the open cell type is not as durable and will break down more quickly because it absorbs more than the closed cell type.
Each type has its advantages, but both make good material for gaskets, which are manufactured by the die-cutting process.