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Home » TIPS & INFO. » ABOUT NEOPRENE

ABOUT NEOPRENE
ABOUT NEOPRENE

The neoprene used in all wetsuits is a foam.  Specifically it is classified as a closed cell foam.  It is a synthetic material that, through a chemical process, forms a structure with numerous tiny bubbles of gas encompassed within the neoprene raw material.  Each bubble is an individual cell and the cell wall is the neoprene.

The manufacturing process used in making neoprene foam is the same for every major brand of neoprene (Eg: Sheico, Yamamoto, Namliong etc..).  The materials are the same, the chemistry is the same.  People who are of the impression that one particular brand is superior to another should rethink this as all of the major brands are equivalent.

There are numerous grades of neoprene manufactured, and each manufacturer has a comparable grade to compete with the other.  The basic difference between the grades is the density of the neoprene foam.  The density of the neoprene is derived by amount and size of gas bubbles that are formed within the structure. So there are very light grades which tend to be exceptionally stretchy, right through to very heavy grades that feel quite solid.  The more neoprene used the more dense the final structure.

Neoprene foam grades used in earlier model wetsuit, say in the 70's and 80's, were more dense and heavy, having a higher percentage of neoprene within their structure.  These wetsuits were very durable but were also less comfortable, being less conformable to various body shapes.

Over more recent years, neoprene foam grades used in wetsuit manufacture have become softer, lighter, more & more stretchy, and more conformable which has made them more comfortable, easier to fit a greater variety of body shapes.

One of the main problems with the neoprene foam used in today's wetsuits is compression.  The lighter the foam, the less neoprene used in the structure which results in thinner cell walls, making the product easier to stretch, and tear.  A bit like bubble wrap; when under pressure the bubbles burst and collapse.  So after repeated use, a 3mm neoprene suit will compress down into 2mm or even 1.5mm; and will also stretch out of shape.

There are some neoprene foam grades available today that are ultra light and ultra stretchy.  Suits made from these very light neoprene grades are very comfortable to begin with but quickly lose their integrity.  It is our opinion that these new grades have gone too far; they are great for surface water sport like surfing and water skiing but not for diving.   A suit made from these ultra light neoprene grades can show signs of compression within the first few months, stretch out of shape, adversely affecting their heat retention & comfort properties.  Suits made from these neoprene grades have a reduced longevity and would need to be replaced more quickly than expected.

The wetsuits supplied by our business are manufactured using light to medium grades of neoprene.  None of our current advertised suits use ultra light neoprene grades.  Those using medium grades will be described as having some compression resistant properties.

agro@agro-dive-imports.com.au
West Coast:  (08) 6102 7222     |     East Coast:  (02) 8007 6666
PO BOX 444   |   MAROUBRA  NSW  2035   |   SYDNEY  AUSTRALIA