Scuba Fabric Facts 101
As soon as you hear the words "scuba fabric," we assume that you would straight go off to the material used in making scuba diving gears. You are not wrong with the approach since the name gives it away; however, in reality, a scuba fabric is different; let us dig a little more into it.
The term scuba fabric is commonly used synonymously with Neoprene; it is a type of synthetic textile, double-knit fabric whose origination is from a blend of polyester and spandex. Neoprene was originally thought of as a rubber substitute and was available after harvesting just one type of tree.
However, the main point is that scuba fabric is not the material to make wet suits from for scuba divers. Instead, the material is nowadays a popular choice for dance wear, skirts, and dresses. This introduction must have instigated a bunch of questions; we are here to answer them.
What Is Scuba Fabric?
Scuba fabric is a more fashionable version of neoprene fabric. Both Neoprene and scuba are made from the same materials. But Neoprene is used for more technical purposes, while scuba is designed to be used for fashionable clothing as well as clothing that needs to be technical but still fashionable- such as dance clothing.
We assure you that you have most probably seen a scuba fabric without knowing it at least once in your lifetime, more so if you shop for skirts or dresses that are more on the formal side. Scuba fabric is extra smooth, dense, and heavy, having a particular extent of a stretch since it is a result of a polyester and spandex/lycra fibers blend.
Scuba fabric's first production in the United States of America was by the DuPont Corporation; it is a neoprene a, synthetic form of rubber that rose in demand during World War II because of natural rubber shortage.
As time passed by, because of its waterproofing and insulating properties, Neoprene became a popular choice for wetsuits for scuba divers and that is how scuba fabric got its name.
But, what led to the need to blend the fabric if it was so perfect? Neoprene was not an ideal option for making this apparel since it has low breathability. So, to make it better and ideal in terms of other clothing, a blend was prepared; therefore, you can say that scuba fabric is not quite the same thing as Neoprene in technical terms.
How to Make Scuba Fabric?
You now know that the base of both materials, scuba fabric, and Neoprene is the same. Here is a step by step guide for preparation.
1. The first step is the reaction between base compounds react with a derivative of limestone. The reaction results in a product substance known as chloroprene.
2. Next, chloroprene is transformed into a liquid called polychloroprene using a process known as polymerization. Chloroprene in its original state is sent to textile manufacturers, which is later on made into a usable form for certain products.
3. Once chloroprene reaches the factory, it is combined with a few additives to enhance and add some particular characteristics, like stretchiness. The substance, along with some additives, is put in a mixer for blending. The result then undergoes baking to form the synthetic rubber fabric known as Neoprene.
4. In this step, Neoprene is sliced into multiple pieces and then sprayed on with a coat of epoxy. This step marks the difference between the fabrics used for making wet suits vs. scuba fabric. The material that makes wet suits is Neoprene enveloped with nylon fabric. On the other hand, scuba fabric is Neoprene with a layer of a blend of polyester and spandex fabric.
All in all, scuba fabric is a sandwich layer of Neoprene between 2 polyester sheets and spandex fabric. This polyester/spandex is a double-knit fabric of fine thread, which gives it a fairly smooth texture. After making the fabric, it is sold as it is or can be sent to clothing manufacturers for garment production.
Types of Scuba Fabric
There are 2 significant kinds of scuba fabric available in the market for the use which are explained below:
Polychloroprene of Limestone Base
Limestone base polychloroprene is a recent development. The chloroprene to make this polymer is made by using a chemical that is a derivation of limestone that makes "limestone based polychloroprene" increasingly sustainable than Neoprene.
Petroleum base chloroprene rubber is the OG - original form by DuPont in the era of 1930s. So, all the scuba fabric which is labeled "Neoprene" is petroleum-based polychloroprene.
This chloroprene is from butadiene - a fossil fuel derivative. However, you must know that this type of polychloroprene is not sustainable because it is a derivative of petroleum, and also inferior to limestone-derived polychloroprene.
Naturally, for the earth to make petroleum, it will need millions of years since it is a fossil. On the other hand, it constantly produces more limestone with ease. This means that getting chloroprene rubber is environmentally friendly.
Moreover, scuba divers and surfers say that limestone chloroprene rubber is far greater in comfort in comparison with petroleum due to its higher-density close -cell structure.
Properties of Scuba Fabric
Learning about a particular fabric for the very first time is incomplete without a discussion of its properties. This information is necessary to know the end result and the fabric's exact use.
We know scuba fabric has a minute amount of spandex fibers in it; therefore, it has some stretch. And this is the reason why this material is perfect for making sportswear that requires sturdiness, as well as a slight stretch for movement.
Unfortunately, here is where this fabric draws a line. One disadvantage of scuba fabric is that it is not highly breathable. The reason behind this drawback is synthetic materials. Neither Neoprene nor spandex has breathability.
On the other hand, polyester is a bit breathable; however, on the whole, this fabric has a very low level of breathability. With that said, you must know that clothing made out of scuba fabric may cause the wearer to feel the warmth and stuffy.
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