The following article was sourced from a Wikipedia page at the following address: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoprene
Neoprene or polychloroprene is a family of synthetic rubbers that are produced by polymerization of chloroprene. Neoprene exhibits good chemical stability, and maintains flexibility over a wide temperature range. It is used in a wide variety of applications, such as laptop sleeves, orthopedic braces (wrist, knee, etc.), electrical insulation, liquid and sheet applied elastomeric membranes or flashings, and automotive fan belts.
Neoprene is produced by free-radical polymerization of chloroprene. In commercial production, this polymer is prepared by free radical emulsion polymerization. Polymerization is initiated using potassium persulfate. Bifunctional nucleophiles, metal oxides (e.g. zinc oxide), and thioureas are used to crosslink individual polymer strands. Outside of Russia and China, about 300,000 tons of neoprene are produced annually.
Neoprene was invented by DuPont scientists on April 17, 1930 after Dr Elmer K. Bolton of DuPont attended a lecture by Fr Julius Arthur Nieuwland, a professor of chemistry at the University of Notre Dame. Nieuwland's research was focused on acetylene chemistry and during the course of his work he produced divinyl acetylene, a jelly that firms into an elastic compound similar to rubber when passed over sulfur dichloride. After DuPont purchased the patent rights from the university, Wallace Carothers of DuPont took over commercial development of Nieuwland's discovery in collaboration with Nieuwland himself. Arnold Collins at DuPont focused on monovinyl acetylene and reacted the substance with hydrogen chloride gas, manufacturing chloroprene.
DuPont first marketed the compound in 1931 under the trade name DuPrene, but its commercial possibilities were limited by the original manufacturing process, which left the product with a foul odour. A new process was developed, which eliminated the odour-causing byproducts and halved production costs, and the company began selling the material to manufacturers of finished end-products. To prevent shoddy manufacturers from harming the product's reputation, the trademark DuPrene was restricted to apply only to the material sold by DuPont. Since the company itself did not manufacture any DuPrene-containing end products, the trademark was dropped in 1937 and replaced with a generic name, neoprene, in an attempt "to signify that the material is an ingredient, not a finished consumer product". DuPont then worked extensively to generate demand for its product, implementing a marketing strategy that included publishing its own technical journal, which extensively publicized neoprene's uses as well as advertising other companies' neoprene-based products. By 1939, sales of neoprene were generating profits over $300,000 for the company (equivalent to $5,086,364 in 2015).
Competitive swimming wetsuits are made of the most expanded foam; they have to be very flexible to allow the swimmer unrestricted movement. The downside is that they are quite fragile.
In the equestrian world, it is used in cinches, saddle pads, bareback pads, and many other applications in all disciplines.
It is often used in Airsoft as a protective garment, as it is thin enough to feel the hit, but thick enough to spread out or absorb significant impact energy, thus avoiding breakage of the skin by the pellet.
Training knives and swords are made of Neoprene for safe self-defence instructions, practice, sparring, and martial arts demonstrations.
Used in powerlifting and Olympic lifting. Commonly used are rehband 7mm knee and elbow sleeves. Also they are acceptable support in most powerlifting or strongman federations.
Musical instrument maker Yamaha uses neoprene. Neoprene is also used for drum practice pads.
Some people are allergic to neoprene while others can get dermatitis from thioureas residues left from its production. The most common accelerator in the vulcanization of polychloroprene is ethylene thiourea (ETU), which has been classified as reprotoxic. The European rubber industry project called SafeRubber focuses an alternative to the use of ETU.
Neoprene degrades in the presence of some fairly common chemicals, including hydrochloric acid, acetone, xylene, acetic acid, aqua regia, boric acid, liquid butane, hydrogen peroxide, iodine, kerosine, lacquer, lard, motor oil, nitric acid, palm oil, tallow, turpentine, urine, and most chlorine-based chemicals including household bleach.
To read more about neoprene, please click on the following link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoprene