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I have several Dell Latitude E6520 laptops whose the palmrests became tacky / sticky. This problem also concerns other models sharing the same "rubberized" palmrest coating (E6320, E6420, E6430, E6530, a.s.o.).

On a forum, someone mentioned that this was caused by a degradation of the neopren coating caused by cleaning alcohols (e.g. isopropyl alcohol), at least when not diluted enough. I'm not a chemist and cannot confirm if the exact nature of the surface is neopren, but his answer makes sense to me. At least cleaning does not make the palmrests less tacky.

Some people have tips and tricks to make the palmrest less tacky, like applying wax. I'm not truly convinced by this solution, and wonder if there is some product or family of compounds which, by cold application, would trigger kind of "soft vulcanization" to harden the "ruberrized" coating again and make it more slippery.

Thank you for your indulgence towards my possible jargon mistakes.

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  • $\begingroup$ Basically, the question is if polymers that returned to a more elastomer state can be hardened again by vulcanization through simple methods. My question has been rephrased here: chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/158821/… $\endgroup$
    – OuzoPower
    Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 12:59
  • $\begingroup$ 4 and 1/2-in grinder with oh buffing wheel that doesn't work switch to 600 grit we can keep going down on grit size so it'll definitely get it sooner or later it won't be sticky $\endgroup$
    – Jhamm007
    Commented Jan 7, 2023 at 14:37
  • $\begingroup$ I'v seen the same effect on computer mices, sometimes so badly that a good functioning device had to be trashed... $\endgroup$
    – datenheim
    Commented Jan 8, 2023 at 17:13

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Cleaning a sticky surface is tricky, unless you know what you are removing, or whether you will be putting more plasticizer into the surface,

The palmrest gets dirty, right? That's why it gets cleaned off. Well, cleaning may not get all the skin oils off, and they might be plasticizing the neoprene to a higher degree of stickiness. It is probably good to get most of the skin oils off.

Then try dusting the surface with talcum powder, in such a way that it does not get into cracks and crevices in/on the keyboard. Other fine powders could work, like chalk. If you need some reasoning to add more "dirt" to the palmrests, consider it to be filler for the rubber which is still a little too gooey.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't want to clean the sticky surface, nor to remove the coating. It is not sticky because of dirt, but because likely the cleaning agent (e.g. isopropanol) for these second hand laptops altered the polymer, bringing it closer to its initial elastomeric state. So, my question is basically if vulcanization is possible again by applying a compound and using a hot air gun (something like when repairing a bicycle inner tube). I rephrased my question (see link in the comment of my original post). Thank you for the talcum powder idea. I may try it if re-vulcanization is not possible. $\endgroup$
    – OuzoPower
    Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 13:08
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    $\begingroup$ It is unlikely that rubber, whether hydrocarbon, neoprene or silicone, could be devulcanized by isopropanol, under any conditions. The palmrest may be coated with a paint, which may have, as binder, a resin, or even low molecular weight rubbers, and plasticizer. Solvent softening by iPA can't be reversed by rebonding because an active crosslinker would also likely overbond and embrittle the coating. In fact, the likely cause of tackiness is that the original resin/rubber has continued to crosslink, shrink and extrude plasticiser to the surface, which becomes oversoftened (and tacky). $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 13:58

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