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Neoprene vs. Elastomer — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman & Urooj Arif — Updated on May 2, 2024
Neoprene, a synthetic rubber known for its stability and heat resistance, contrasts with elastomers, which refer broadly to elastic polymers used in various applications.
Neoprene vs. Elastomer — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Neoprene and Elastomer


Key Differences

Neoprene is a specific type of synthetic rubber developed as an oil-resistant substitute for natural rubber, while elastomers encompass a wide range of polymers, both natural and synthetic, characterized by their elasticity.
Due to its chemical structure, neoprene exhibits excellent chemical stability and remains durable under a wide range of temperatures, whereas elastomers in general may vary significantly in their thermal and chemical stability based on their composition.
Neoprene is particularly noted for its resistance to oils, solvents, and weathering, making it ideal for industrial and automotive applications. On the other hand, the resistance properties of elastomers can vary; for instance, silicone elastomers are highly resistant to heat but less resistant to petroleum-based oils.
In applications requiring specific performance attributes such as flame retardancy and low smoke emissions, neoprene stands out, whereas other elastomers might need additional treatment or blending with other materials to achieve similar properties.
The production of neoprene involves the polymerization of chloroprene, making it more specialized, whereas the production methods for elastomers can range from simple extrusion to complex molding processes depending on the type.

Comparison Chart


Synthetic, polymerized from chloroprene
Can be natural or synthetic, varies widely


Moderately elastic
Highly elastic, varies by type

Chemical Resistance

High resistance to oils and solvents
Varies; generally lower without additives

Thermal Stability

Good high-temperature stability
Ranges from low to high depending on type

Typical Applications

Automotive, industrial gaskets, wetsuits
Automotive tires, bungee cords, medical devices

Compare with Definitions


A synthetic rubber resistant to oil and heat.
Neoprene gaskets are used in engines due to their oil resistance.


A polymer with the ability to withstand significant deformation.
Silicone elastomers are used in flexible molds.


Exhibits good flame retardancy and smoke suppression.
Neoprene materials are used in fire-resistant applications.


Properties can be tailored through chemical formulation.
By adjusting the polymer mix, elastomers can be made more resistant to heat.


Developed in the 1930s as an alternative to natural rubber.
Neoprene was quickly adopted in many industrial applications.


Used widely in the manufacturing of flexible products.
Elastic bands are typically made from elastomers.


Commonly used in wetsuits due to its thermal insulation properties.
Surfers prefer neoprene wetsuits for cold water.


Includes both natural and synthetic varieties.
Natural rubber is an elastomer tapped from rubber trees.


Has a characteristic stability in outdoor environments.
Neoprene covers are used for outdoor machinery to withstand weathering.


Often requires additives for specific properties.
Additives are mixed into elastomers to enhance UV resistance.


Neoprene (also 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.


An elastomer is a polymer with viscoelasticity (i.e., both viscosity and elasticity) and with weak intermolecular forces, generally low Young's modulus and high failure strain compared with other materials. The term, a portmanteau of elastic polymer, is often used interchangeably with rubber, although the latter is preferred when referring to vulcanisates.


A synthetic rubber produced by polymerization of chloroprene and used in weather-resistant products, adhesives, shoe soles, sportswear, paints, and rocket fuels.


Any of various polymers having the elastic properties of natural rubber.


A synthetic rubber, a polymer of chloroprene, commonly used in wetsuits, laptop sleeves, orthopedic braces, electrical insulation, liquid and sheet-applied elastomeric membranes and flashings, car fan belts, etc.


Any polymer having the elastic properties of rubber


A synthetic rubber that is resistant to oils and aging; used in waterproof products


Any of various elastic materials that resemble rubber (resumes its original shape when a deforming force is removed)

Common Curiosities

Where is neoprene commonly used?

Neoprene is used in applications like automotive gaskets, industrial seals, and wetsuits.

What are elastomers?

Elastomers are polymers characterized by their elasticity and ability to return to original shape after deformation.

What is neoprene?

Neoprene is a type of synthetic rubber known for its oil and heat resistance.

How is neoprene different from other elastomers?

Neoprene is specifically resistant to oils and heat, whereas other elastomers may need additives for similar properties.

Why is neoprene preferred in harsh environments?

Its stability and resistance to degradation make it suitable for harsh environments.

How is neoprene produced?

Neoprene is produced by polymerizing chloroprene in a controlled environment.

Can elastomers be natural?

Yes, natural rubber is a type of elastomer derived from latex of rubber trees.

What makes elastomers unique?

The primary feature of elastomers is their high elasticity and flexibility.

Does neoprene support sustainability?

Neoprene production is not particularly sustainable, but efforts are being made to improve its environmental footprint.

Is neoprene more expensive than other elastomers?

Generally, neoprene can be more costly due to its specialized properties and production process.

How does temperature affect elastomers?

Elastomers can become more brittle in cold temperatures and softer in high temperatures.

Are all elastomers equally resistant to chemicals?

No, chemical resistance varies widely among different types of elastomers.

What are common modifications to elastomers?

Common modifications include vulcanization and the addition of stabilizers or fillers.

Can neoprene be recycled?

Recycling neoprene is challenging, but research into more recyclable forms is ongoing.

What factors affect the properties of elastomers?

Factors include polymer type, production process, and presence of additives.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.

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