Rubber’s status as one of the most impressive and functional materials in the world at the moment is unquestionable. Wherever you go, there’s something made of rubber just looking at you – and it’s almost like there’s no possible way to escape the reach of this highly flexible material.
However, if you’re a manufacturer, then you should understand the importance of accuracy and precision when selecting materials. Rubber might be popular, but knowing just what type you need to use is going to make all the difference in the world right now.
In this article, we’ll look at one of the most popular rubber variants – chloroprene rubber (or CR rubber, for those who might not know).
What Is CR Rubber?
CR rubber is one of the most notable forms of rubber available in the market at the moment. As you now know, the “CR” here actually stands for “Chloroprene.” And, Chloroprene rubber is a variant that is made in a lab.
Besides “CR rubber” and “Chloroprene rubber,” this material is also known by a name that you might recognize – Neoprene. Yup, that’s the one.
You might not know, but Neoprene was actually among the very first synthetic elastomers to be developed back in the day. And thanks to materials like this, manufacturers ike DuPont made a killing and became among the biggest in the world.
In the CR material, you have something that is versatile and has been used in different industries. It offers a healthy balance of both chemical and physical properties, which we will look into at a later point. And, it also does well to resist a lot of external factors that tend to affect other materials. As such, it really doesn’t matter where you use it – as long as you need a rubber material that stands and works as it should, you can get the CR full form and rest assured of its functionality.
Chemical Composition And Makeup
When asking, “what is Chloroprene rubber?” one of the first things they tell you is that the material is synthetic. It is composed of the polychloroprene structure – a polymer that is gotten from 2-chlorobuta-1,3-diene.
Now, for those who might not be familiar with it, 2-chlorobuta-1,3-diene is a monomer that consists of four carbon atoms, combined with two separate double bonds. Just as well, one of the atoms here is connected to an atom of chlorine.
Thanks to the traditional polymerization process, it has now become possible – easy, in fact – to combine different monomer units together in order to form chloroprene.
By virtue of its chemical composition alone, the chloroprene material provides several interesting properties to the CR full form. These range from strength to the ability to prevent flame and much more.
Of course, the process of making CR rubber will depend on what you’re trying to achieve – for instance, the elastomer neoprene is different from the solid form of the material. Just as well, manufacturing processes tend to include several other steps – which we will look into later as well. Nevertheless, the major part of this entire process is polymerization, and it forms a significant aspect of what we’re trying to achieve.
Key Physical & Material Properties
Thanks to its unique composition, CR rubber comes with a myriad of properties that allow it to stand on its own. Some of these properties have been found to include the following
Impressive Tensile Strength:
You can stretch and expand CR rubber all you want. Rest assured that its tensile strength will prevent it from losing its form as much as possible.
This is combined with an impressive level of elongation at break, which ensures that CR rubber is able to hold its form when you stretch it and not damage at all.
Strength & Hardness:
As you can imagine, CR rubber is also quite strong. The material is workable and flexible enough to be formulated based on the exact amount of hardness you want, and it won’t deform on any level. As long as you have the formulation that matches your requirements, you’re good to go.
Standing Against External Forces:
Is a rubber variant really a rubber ifit gets affected by external forces? With CR rubber, you get an impressive mix of abrasion resistance and a low compression set. As such, the material can soak in a considerable amount of friction and wear and still retain both its shape and its overall properties without breaking a sweat.
Strong Resistance Package:
Now, let’s talk about the things that CR rubber can hold its own against. We already know that it does well to prevent any force, but what about external materials?
- Chemical Resistance: With CR rubber, materials like greases, oils, and more will have no means of entry. You might want to be careful with hydrocarbons, but the rubber does quite well.
- Flame Resistance: Got a situation that involves fire? CR rubber has self-extinguishing properties that ensure its ability to hold its own when it comes in contact with flames.
- Water & Temperature Resistance: As expected, the elements of weather have no effect on this material. So, if you want to use it out and you’re scared of water entry or damage from the sun’s UV rays, don’t be. The neoprene UV resistance is more than enough to have you covered.
- Electrical Resistance: Like many other rubber variants, chloroprene is also resistant to electrical current. As you can imagine, this means that the material can work in so many settings.
Available In Any Temperature
You can use chloroprene rubber across a broad range of temperatures. As a result, all you have to do is test the material and implement it.
A Barrier Against Gases
With this set of features, it’s little wonder that the material has become so popular for manufacturers the world over.
How CR Rubber Is Made
While deciphering what is chloroprene, we already pointed out the fact that the material is made primarily through the traditional polymerization process. However, it is also worth noting that there is much more to the development of CR rubber than just polymerization.
At the moment, here is a breakdown of the steps involved in bringing this material to life.
Creating The Monomer
At the very start, you want to chlorinate 1,3-butadiene. This process leads to the development of 2-chlorobuta-1,3-diene – or, as we know it to be, chloroprene.
Essentially, the purpose of chlorination is to take out the hydrogen atoms in the butadiene molecule and replace them with chlorine. This helps to achieve the end product and gets you one step closer to forming CR rubber.
The Polymerization Process
Now that we have chloroprene, we can go ahead to polymerize it. The first step here is to conduct emulsion polymerization, where the chloroprene monomer is placed in water with a surfactant and other possible additives. From there, you can add initiators to the mix to help conduct the entire reaction.
Remember that this process needs to be done in an aqueous emulsion. This is the only way that you can create the chloroprene polymer chains needed to move along.
Once the chains have been created, you will also notice the creation of microgel particles. These are essentially tiny rubber materials that appear in the water inside latex coatings. This latex is eventually put through the coagulation process, thus separating it from the aqueous outer coating.
Clean It & Let It Dry
With your coagulated neoprene, you can go on to a washing process that will help you to cut out any impurities and parts of the monomer that refused to go through the reaction phase. Then, dry what you have left to cut out the rest of the residual matter.
Remember The Compounding Phase:
No, you’re not quite done yet. You will need to add several compounding additives to the mix to help optimize the different properties of the CR rubber. Some of these additives can include activators, fillers, accelerators, and more.
From there, you mill the material to ensure that all of these fun little additions you put in are spread properly. You want to ensure consistency across the board, and this process will be very important as you look to achieve that.
Form the Material
Remember that everything you’ve done until now is to essentially create the rubber itself. Now, you get to create the form you hope to achieve. With extrusion or calendering, you can create the right material form you hope to achieve. It’ll have the proper thickness and also adhere to your specific requirements, so you’re pretty much covered.
Quick Vulcanization To Enhance The Material
The vulcanization process will essentially help to cross-link the polymer chains. Overall, it will improve the durability and strength of the material to ensure that it meets your specifications. With accelerators, sulfur, and more, you can achieve a great deal as you vulcanize the mix.
Apply The Finishing Touches:
Now, remember that different producers can have different methods of making this material. But, at the end of the day, the process usually follows this sequence.
Where Is CR Rubber Used?
Well, we already spoke about the features of this material and why it’s so popular. But, which industries really use CR rubber and how do you know that it’s the material to use?
Well, let’s show you a quick overview of where this material really gets its functionality.
Belts And Hoses For Industries
One of the most significant functions of this material is to help in making belts and hoses for industrial use. Because it resists chemicals and abrasion, the CR material easily fits into this function.
Seals And Gaskets For Multiple Functions
These components rely on the material’s ability to seal – as well as its flexible body. And, as you know, pretty much every industry requires gaskets and seals – aerospace, automotives, everywhere!
Remember that CR rubber also helps to ensure a tight protective barrier against electrical current. As a result, the material easily helps in developing different electrical components across the board.
In sports, you have different components that come together for the utility of athletes. Whether it’s gloves, wetsuits, or more, neoprene easily comes in handy when developing these components.
We should also not forget its usefulness in making shoes and footwear for sports athletes – and really, all other types of shoes in general.
The same factors that make neoprene perfect for industrial material make it perfect in construction. Remember – it is weather-resistant and can seal properly. So, there is no doubt that it’ll be useful here.
This is a bit of a delicate one. As you know, the medical industry requires a significant amount of care when it comes to making materials. To that end, neoprene’s flexibility and biocompatibility make it perfect for making medical gloves, orthopedic supports, and more materials.
Besides all of this, we have several products around us that make use of a neoprene-productive material. Whatever it is – kitchen equipment, phone cases, etc. – you can count on neoprene being useful in bringing them to life.
Use In Sea Operations
Well, it could be pretty obvious – neoprene resists water and elements of the weather, making it a perfect option for use on the high seas.
Military and Defense:
The men and women in our armed forces use neoprene to protect themselves – whether it’s in making seals, protective gear, or other critical components that help them to prevent entry of different environmental factors.
Mining and Quarrying:
Remember those mines where we get raw materials and precious metals from? Well, CR rubber works in this space to help make hoses, belts,m and other safety and functionality tools. Since the material resists the entry of chemicals, it easily holds its own against the harsh mine environment.
That’s Not All
Funnily, there are several miscellaneous applications you can also find this material in. Whether it’s in making expansion joints or soundproofing components or more, the CR material is truly a trailblazer.
Where CR Rubber Shines
Now, we’ve spoken at length about the features and characteristics that this material has overall. But, what makes it so great that it seems everyone’s set on making use of it in some way or the other?
Protection From Chemicals
As we said, CR rubber doesn’t let chemicals in. Oils, greases, ozone, and others are completely powerless against it, and it forms a proper barrier against them.
Use It Outside If You Like
Since weather elements and water have no effect on the CR material, you can count on it to function in outdoor environments. It also shows impressive resistance to ozone, sunlight, and changes in temperature that come when the weather turns.
A Flexible Material
You will get a lot of benefits from neoprene’s flexible nature. Stretch it as much as you like, and you’ll find that it doesn’t get affected in any way. That original shape you have is what you’ll end up with regardless.
Great In A Fire
Not much is spoken about chloroprene and its ability to retard flame. But, this is really critical. With impressive self-extinguishing properties, CR rubber can be a huge protective material.
The benefit also pairs properly with the fact that the material exhibits an impressive level of thermal insulation. As you can imagine, this combination will work seamlessly hand in hand.
Taking Care Of Abrasion
If you need something to work when there is a lot of friction and wear, rest assured that this material comes in quite handy as well.
The Broad Temperature Spectrum
You can use chloroprene rubber across different temperatures. It withstands heat, and even when you use it in very low temperatures, the material still stays flexible and original.
Considering that we’ve said so many glowing things about the different neoprene examples available, you might think that it is the best material out there. But , that’s not necessarily so. Here are a few areas where the material might not necessarily be so great:
Hydrocarbons & Solvents Have A Way With It
Remember when we pointed out the chemical resistance aspect? Well, hydrocarbons might not necessarily be a part of that. CR rubber’s resistance to some hydrocarbons can limit its functionality – especially if you’re concerned about exposure to chemicals.
Besides this, you might also find that neoprene is a bit susceptible to some solvents. This is despite the fact that the material does quite well to prevent chemical entry.
It Costs A Pretty Penny
As you would imagine, the CR material can be quite expensive. And, you might find other elastomers that don’t cost so much. That said, the benefits that the material offers should definitely outweigh these cost challenges overall.
Comparatively High Compression Set
Yet, neoprene’s compression set is quite low. But, if this is really what you’re considering when choosing a material, you might want to keep in mind that several other elastomers might be better for you.
It’s A Massive Load
Density and weight are two areas where this material will need to do a little bit of work. Several other rubber variants tend to be lighter, and if you really need a lightweight material, neoprene examples might not be the best for you.
You Can’t Make it Without Vulcanizing
We pointed out when discussing how to make CR rubber that vulcanization is a very critical part of the process. And, this can be a bit of a disadvantage if you think about it. Vulcanization takes a lot of time and isn’t necessarily energy-efficient. So, if efficiency in production is a major part of why you’re choosing a rubber or elastomer, this might not be your best bet.
Beware Of Allergies
Finally, you might want to keep an eye out for allergic reactions. These neoprene allergies are admittedly rare, but you know the rule – better safe than sorry.
All in all, there is a lot to be hyped about when it comes to CR rubber. And as manufacturing needs continue to grow, there’s a sense that the adoption of the material will follow the same trendline.
If you’d like to get your hands on the best CR rubber or would like to learn more about it, reach out to us at Legenday.