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Nitrile vs. Neoprene: What’s the Difference?

Nitrile vs. NeopreneWhat’s the difference between nitrile and neoprene for seals, gaskets, and insulation? Both elastomers provide good resistance to compression set and tearing. They withstand the same range of service temperatures, too. Some grades of neoprene offer excellent resistance to abrasion, but nitrile is known for its abrasion resistance at elevated temperatures.

Nitrile and neoprene rubber have many similarities, but there are some important differences between these elastomers. In this article from Elasto Proxy, you’ll learn when nitrile is recommended and when neoprene is used. You’ll also compare these common compounds across all a full list of material properties so that you can make the right choice for your application.

Nitrile vs. Neoprene: Material Properties

Nitrile offers excellent oil and solvent resistance across a wide temperature range. This synthetic elastomer has very good resistance to engine oil and gasoline, very good resistance to alkalis and acids, and superior resistance to petroleum-based hydraulic fluids. Neoprene offers moderate resistance to oils and petroleum products, but provides significantly greater resistance to sunlight, ozone, and weather.

The differences don’t end there. Nitrile rubber has poor flame resistance. By contrast, neoprene provides very good-to-excellent resistance against the spread of flame. Nitrile is attacked by sunlight, ozone, and weather, but neoprene provides reliable resistance against these environmental conditions. Yet neither rubber resists aromatics or ketones, two types of organic compounds.

As the following table shows, nitrile and neoprene are both similar and different in terms of properties.

Nitrile Neoprene
General Information
Common Names Nitrile, Buna-N, NBR Neoprene
Chemical Names Acrylonitrile-butadiene polychloroprene
ASTM D-2000 Classification BF, BG, BK, CH BC, BE
Physical Properties
Elongation 400% to 600% 100% to 800%
Hardness (Shore A) 35 to 90 15 to 95
Mechanical Properties
Compression Set Good Good
Rebound Rating Good Fair to Very Good
Flex Cracking Resistance Good Good to Very Good
Abrasion Resistance Good to Excellent Very Good to Excellent
Tear Resistance Good Good
Impact Resistance Fair to Good Good to Excellent
Flame Resistance Poor Very Good to Excellent
Thermal Properties
Minimum Service Temperature -30° F to -70° F -30° F to -70° F
Maximum Service Temperature +220° F to +280°F +220° F to +280° F
Environmental Resistance
Weather Poor Good
Sunlight Poor Good to Very Good
Ozone Poor Good
Oxidation Good Good
Water Good to Excellent Excellent
Steam Fair Poor to Good
Gas Permeability Fair to Good Fair to Good
Chemical Resistance
Generally Resistant To Gases, Aliphatic Hydrocarbon, Oils and Fuels Moderate chemicals and acids, ozone, oils, fats, greases, and solvents
Generally Attacked By Ketones, Ozone, Sunlight, Aromatic Oil, Flame, Weather Esters, ketones, and chlorinated, aromatic, and nitro hydrocarbons

Nitrile vs. Neoprene: Applications

Nitrile rubber is recommended for applications that require oil and fuel resistance, abrasion resistance, and temperature resistance up to 280° F. In mobile equipment and military vehicles, nitrile seals or gaskets are used in carburetor diaphragms, fuel systems, and hydraulic hoses. Nitrile also supports rubber-to-metal bonding, which makes it a good choice for applications in the processing industry. Yet nitrile isn’t recommended for sealing and insulation that requires resistance to fire, sunlight, ozone, or weather.

Neoprene rubber resists fire and withstands sunlight, ozone, and weather. Specific grades of neoprene can also meet flame, smoke and toxicity (FST) requirements for the mass transit industry. Applications include door seals, window seals, hose covers, vibration mounts, and shock absorbers. Neoprene is also used with HVAC units, electrical or electronic enclosures, and weather stripping for fire doors. Additional applications include expansion joints and bearing pads in built structures.

Nitrile vs. Neoprene: Make the Right Choice

Compound selection is critical because choosing the wrong rubber can cause more than just a component-level failure. Are you wondering whether nitrile or neoprene is the right elastomer for your application? Do you need custom-fabricated sealing solutions that add value and reduce risk? Then it’s time to talk to Elasto Proxy. Contact us to discuss your application.

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