EPDM and Neoprene have earned their reputations as being durable, all-purpose gasket materials. Whether the goal is to make a tight protective seal or silence annoying vibrations, these flexible synthetic rubber gasket materials can be safely used in many industrial and consumer applications.
These materials sometimes get confused for one another, but the choice often comes down to price and properties. EPDM provides an excellent electrical insulator, while Neoprene is more chemical resistant and makes a good thermal insulator.
What is EPDM?
EPDM (or Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) rubber is made up of ethylene, propylene, and diene monomers, with a single bond molecular structure. While it’s vulnerable to oil, gas, and hydrocarbon solvents, it’s resistant to alkalis, acids, and oxygenated solvents. EPDM is resistant to heat, cold, ozone, water, and weathering while providing noise reduction. It’s also a good electrical insulator. These properties make it a popular choice in the automotive, HVAC, and roofing industries as a material for roofing, sealant, gaskets, and weather-stripping.
EPDM’s biggest advantages lie in how weatherproof it is outdoors. It can resist abrasion, UV rays, ozone, aging, and weather, and it’s the most waterproof rubber available. EPDM is also steam resistant, functioning in up to 392 degrees F (200 C) without air, and chemical resistant, including to polar fluids. With similar properties to silicone rubber below 250 degrees F, EPDM is resilient, has low electrical conductivity, and adheres easily to metals. It’s also very flexible, with 600% elongation and a tensile range of 500-2500 psi, while functioning well in temperatures from -50 degrees F (-45 C) to 350 degrees F (177 C). On top of that, EPDM insulates and reduces noise, part of the reason it’s so commonly used in the automotive industry.
How long does EPDM last? It depends on the application it’s used in as well as the conditions under which it’s working. When constantly working at the extremes of its working temperature, EPDM’s lifespan will shrink dramatically. However, if properly taken care of, EPDM products can last for decades. Roofing made from EPDM can last 30-50 years, and liners can last for 20.
What is EPDM Rubber Used For?
A number of industries rely on EPDM rubber to keep work processes safe and ensure the delivery of quality products and services including:
EPDM is used as a cheaper alternative to silicone rubber for parts that will have a lot of outdoor or moisture exposure, or for electrical insulation. However, it can also be used as roofing or liners. It’s mainly used in four industries:
●Automotive. This is EPDM ’s most common application, thanks to its flexibility, resiliency, and weatherability. It can be found in vehicle weather stripping, seals, sealant, wire and cable harnesses, and brake systems. It’s also blended with other materials to make fender extensions, rub strips, and car bumpers.
●Industrial. Industrial applications use EPDM for its electrically insulating and waterproof properties, as well as its resilience and flexibility. EPDM can be found in parts such as water system O-rings, hoses, and gaskets, as well as in electrical insulators and connectors for wire and cable. It also takes the form of accumulator bladders, diaphragms, grommets, and belts.
●Construction. Thanks to its insulating, weatherproof, and waterproof capabilities, roofing is a major application for EPDM. However, it is also used for sealant, expansion joints, garage door seals, pool and tank liners, and waterproof coating for bitumen roofs. It’s even used on RV roofs.
●HVAC. In this industry, EPDM takes the form of grommets, tubing, gaskets, seals, and insulation, thanks to its weatherability and temperature resistance.
The benefits of EPDM over other elastomer options are extensive and include:
●Temperature resistance ranging from -60 to 350 °F
●Recovery from up to 600% elongation
●Capable of withstanding greater temperature ranges than neoprene
●Heat, water, coolant, steam, ozone, and sunlight-resistant
●Resistant to polar materials such as phosphate esters, alcohol, and many ketones
The chemical properties of EPDM make it an excellent electrical insulator as it blocks electrical interference from entering a component, protecting the products as well as the people using them.
Though Neoprene is water resistant, EPDM is considered the most water resistant of the elastomers, as it doesn’t swell or react to water. EPDM maintains a tight, safe seal, without leaching chemicals.
Due to the advantages offered by the material,we employ EPDM as our standard rubber material Our EPDM rubbers are more durable and cost-effective.
What is Neoprene?
Neoprene, also called chloroprene, is a combination of carbon, hydrogen, and chlorine polymers. Like EPDM, it’s oil, alkali and acid resistant, but it’s susceptible to aromatic and oxygenated solvents. Neoprene is more resistant to corrosion and degradation than many other rubbers. It’s also weather and fire-resistant, with thermal insulating and waterproofing qualities. These traits make it a common material in marine equipment and diving suits, but it’s also used in rubber gloves as a latex substitute, in roofing, and for applications that require moderate chemical and oil resistance. Neoprene is also commonly used in corrosion-resistant coatings, high-pressure adhesives, gaskets, and belts, vibration mounts, and weather stripping.
The properties of neoprene rubber position it as a material of choice in applications requiring:
●Flexibility across a range of temperatures
●Excellent resistance to abrasive substances
●Resistance to degradation due to weathering
●Moderate resistance to some chemical, acids, greases, fats, and oils
While both neoprene and EPDM rubber have their benefits, at Houston Products, Inc. we feel the optimal choice between the two is clear. As our standard manufacturing material, EPDM offers consumers far greater durability and flexibility and is suited to a broader range of applications than its alternatives.