neoprene tubes

Looking to create some neoprene (santoprene) tubing insulation for water circulation lines. requirements: need approx. 100 ft in 5 ft sections. needs to be able to slide over 1/2" PVC tubing.

I created the first prototype by using rubber tubing (same material as car door seals), sewing a tube of lycra and then stuffing the rubber tube into the lycra tube. that took about 3 hours for a 5ft section- this will not do. I am going to need to make about 20 prototypes for patient testing.

I know that CamelBack uses a sewn neoprene tube to insulate their tubes for cold weather use. this is possibilty, however the sewing machine they used is specialized and i can not find anything like it.

I will be custom extruding a foam for the production model, however I don’t want to invest in tooling and material costs for such a small quantity.

any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

Any home improvement store sells outdoor insulating foam tubing for exterior water pipes. Its foamed polyethylene (the same material as those noodle pool toys).

Its specifically designed to slide over 1/2" & 3/4" PVC tubing and comes in grey and black.

Perhaps that will suit your testing needs.

yeah, i’ve checked it out. however the wall thickness i am looking for is 1/4" or less- the stuff in the hardware store is refridgeration line insulation and usually only comes in 1/2" wall thickness.

I wonder if i could heatseal or glue neoprene strips into a tube…

If you’re not keen on investing in tooling, try using a standard sewing machine to sew your tubing.

Get some 1/4 inch neoprene which has been laminated with spandex fabric (to keep it from tearing. This is a common way that you can buy the stuff). Take a long strip which is a little wider than the circumference of the tube. Fold the strip the long way, and, using a zigzag stitch, sew the edges together. The needle should come all the way into the fabric on the inside (the zig stitch) and right up to the edge of the fabric on the outside (zag stitch). When you’ve finished sewing as long of length as you need, pull the tube out from the inside so the overlapping edges are pulled to butt up against one another. Now, the inside of the tube will be just about right to slide a length of pipe into, and the seam should be as minimal as possible. Experiment with the width of the stitch until you find some thing which works the best.

This is definitely not the Martha Stewart method for this stuff, but it’s probably your best bet. Even if you could find raw neoprene tubing (without fabric, since you can’t laminate to the inside of a tube) it would be really hard to pull the tubing over a length of pipe longer than about a foot. The foam is just too “frictiony”.


yes, i agree about sewing the edge of the neoprene with an industrial sewing machine, however, ideally, I want the lycra cover to be on the outside of the finished tubing- for patient comfort. cuz, only a surfer could fully realize the comfort of neoprene.

by the way, i checked out IDfuel. very cool, some good insights and editorials

I was thinking you could get some neoprene which was laminated on both sides. I seem to remember seeing it, but maybe I’m wrong. I’ll look around.