Modern wetsuits are predominantly made from neoprene. Mistakenly thought to be rubber, neoprene is actually a plastic. Starting in powder form called polychloroprene, additives are mixed in, giving it elasticity, and adhesion until a dough is created.
Rolling and Cutting
The dough is rolled out and cut into various thicknesses from 1 mm to 9 mm for the wetsuit. Construction is hinged on the cut of the dough, much like a sewing pattern. The dough is cut in a pattern for the wetsuits.
After the dough has been cut and the pattern assembled, the wetsuit is stitched together. One of two stitches is used: Mauser/flat lock or blind. Mauser lock stitching will stretch with the fabric. The blind stitch is totally waterproof and invisible when fastened.
Some wetsuits are made by gluing versus stitching. Gluing makes the wetsuit completely watertight, with no holes punched into the material.
After the neoprene has been assembled into the wetsuit, graphics are added through a silkscreen machine. Adding non-permeable material to the surface of the neoprene prevents unwanted ink on the wetsuit.
Article Written By Eric Cedric
A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.