Things You Need To Know About Silicon Rubber

July 27, 2015
Things You Need To Know About Silicon Rubber

Silicon rubber is a synthetic material with a distinguished history, a biography built on the need to surpass earlier flexible products. The state-of-the-art compound solves the shortcomings found in other compounds, especially natural rubber, by blending the best features of organic chemistry and inorganic science. It’s characterized by a robust silicon backbone at the molecular level, a cross-linked base structure that retains the vaunted elastic properties of natural rubber, although supplemental features can be added to push the performance characteristics of the material far beyond lesser substitutes.

Expressly developed for commercial and industrial applications in the mid-twentieth century, the quartz-like silicon backbone immediately proves the compound’s viability by focusing on reliability within multiple domains. Silicon rubber keeps its integrity at high temperatures, staying stable even when the heat reaches a stifling 200°C. Similarly, if a product made from this rubber is placed within chilly environs, the product won’t crack or become brittle. This guarantees the properties of the rubber stay intact even if the chill drops below -80°C. It’s also worth noting that the products we’re referring to here are the base formulations of silicon rubber. If a client is seeking a grade of the material that can function at up to 315°C without the cross-links of the molecule breaking down, then additive-injected forms of the rubber are especially available for these applications. Now, before listing any other advantages or properties, let’s take a look at the three forms silicon rubber can assume:

  • LSR – Liquid silicone rubber
  • RTV – Room temperature vulcanizing
  • HTV – High temperature vulcanized

The rubber is affordable and easy to synthesize and cure, mainly because the ingredients are commonly available on the ground and in the air. Oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, and silica form the base linkages of the elastomer, formulations that can adopt any of the three structures mentioned above. The high-temperature vulcanized variant accounts for sixty percent of the silicon rubber market, though the room temperature type is popular in sealants and adhesives. As for the LSR classification, this type of silicon rubber is used every day in high-capacity production lines where extrusion technology rules above all else.

Other Benefits of Silicon Rubber:

  • Resists ageing
  • Chemically neutral
  • Electrical insulation
  • Easy to colour

As successful as natural rubber was in the days of early industry, silicon rubber is the logical heir to the elastomer crown due to the elimination of all the issues that plagued early rubber. Silicon elastomers are robust and easy to manipulate. They also hold those properties in any environment, including in ozone-heavy outdoor applications.

It’s tough to think of an application that doesn’t benefit from a silicon rubber infusion, but the chemical neutrality of the material does make for excellent medical-grade products and food packaging. Additionally, the robust characteristics of the rubber position the material as fine O-ring constructs and sealing products.