Neoprene tubing is a type of tubing, or hollow channels, made from synthetic rubber known more precisely as polychloroprene. In addition to conveying gasses and liquids, as do most tubes, neoprene tubing can also be used to protect wires and chemicals. In comparison to other rubber tubing, such as surgical tubing or latex tubing, neoprene tubing has thick walls and good levels of flexibility. It is also stretchable, buoyant, waterproof, lightweight, flame resistant, heat resistant, and abrasion resistant.
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Neoprene Tubing Design
As was first mentioned, neoprene tubing is made from the synthetic rubber of the same name, which is in turn made up of repeating molecules known as monomers. To enhance its qualities or give it additional qualities, other ingredients can be added to raw neoprene powder before it is formed into the tubing. Ingredients like these can provide color, increased elasticity, and countless other beneficial properties. That is why neoprene tubing is available in a wide range of colors, with black tubing being the most commonly requested. It is also available in the foamed form, a form that is especially useful for increased shock protection and insulation. Not only can neoprene tubing be given new colors, consistencies, and levels of elasticity, but it can also be manufactured to heat shrink. Heat shrink tubes are designed to shrink by 50% when exposed to temperatures of adequate heat. In doing so, they provide a very tight covering to the materials inside them. This quality is sought after for gas and liquid transference applications and for applications in which the heat shrinking tubes can act as connectors of joints or seams in wires, cables, or other rubber tubes.
Rubber Extrusion Process
Neoprene tubing is most often fabricated through the rubber extrusion process, though it may also be dipped or molded. Rubber extrusion works much like other extrusion processes, except that the metal die involved is designed specially to work with rubber products. In short, the process as a whole works by forcing molten rubber material through the extrusion die, where the rubber takes on its shape. Dipping is a much simpler method than rubber extrusion. During dipping, manufacturers take a cylindrical tube or rod, known as a mandrel, dip it into a pool full of liquid rubber, in this case neoprene, and then remove it. After being dipped, the mandrel is left with a residual coating of neoprene, which dries in its shape. Once the neoprene has fully dried, manufacturers separate it from the mandrel. Then, newly formed neoprene tubing is then sent on to the next step in its processing. Molding, which may refer to (among others) injection molding or compression molding, broadly involves taking heated or molten neoprene, placing it in a mold cavity or die, closing said mold or die, and then forcing it into the shape of the mold via the application of heat and pressure. After a tube is molded, like in other forming processes, it is allowed to harden and cool and then is sent on for more processing.
Applications of Neoprene Tubing
Neoprene is quite well-suited to automotive, marine, and aerospace applications because neoprene is particularly resistant to hydraulic fluids, lubricating oils, solvents and petroleum-based products, all of which are frequently used in and around automobiles, watercraft, and aircraft. In addition, it works well with gasses and liquids, including refrigeration freon gasses, carbon dioxide, chlorine, and ozone. Neoprene tubing is also used for applications including the insulation and shock protection of wire bundles and cables, the coverage of wire bundles and cables exposed to extreme marine and/or outdoor environments, and other applications of all temperature ranges that call for high performance flexible tubing. All in all, neoprene tubing is used for applications in aerospace, automotive, chemical, hydraulic, marine, medical, military, pharmaceutical, pneumatic, and specialty industries.
Standards and Specifications for Neoprene Tubing
Tube manufacturers have a great level of control over both the physical and mechanical properties of the neoprene tubing they produce. In addition to color, elasticity, and heat resistance properties, manufacturers can make tubes of nearly any length, width, or tolerance. To make sure the product they sell is up to code and safe, manufacturers may also make neoprene tubing to adhere to the requirements of organizations and/or sets of standards such as UL, SAE International, ASTM International, JIS, FDA/NSF, MIL-Specs, and USP. Typical temperatures within which neoprene tubing can operate range from -45° and 300°. To get started with a quality manufacturer, turn to any one of the companies listed on this page. Learn about the services they can provide by reaching out to one or more of them today!