In retrospect, the two Japanese companies that formed a joint venture in 2014 to purchase the neoprene operations of DuPont in LaPlace, La., may wish they had left well enough alone.
Historically, DuPont's neoprene was the first commercially successful synthetic rubber, first used as an oil-resistant replacement for natural rubber. The chemical giant invented the polychloroprene rubber in 1931, originally introducing it as DuPrene at the ACS Rubber Division meeting in Akron.
Over the years, the neoprene brand came to be used as a generic term in the marketplace, and DuPont eventually lost interest because the material no longer was a high-growth, value-added material where the company wanted to put its focus.
That's what led Denka Kagaku Kogyo K.K. and Mitsui & Co. Ltd. to join forces to form Denka Performance Elastomer L.L.C. (DPE) and purchase DuPont's Pontchartrain Works facility in LaPlace.