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What is Silicone Rubber used for?

Silicone rubber is a wonderfully versatile and durable type of rubber, which is why it is often used in a variety of different applications within the home and in industrial settings. This led us to pose the question, what is silicone rubber used for?

By nature, silicone rubber, also referred to by its chemical name VMQ, is able to come in a wide variety of foams, adhesives, sealants, moulded rubber products, encapsulants, as a potting compound for a range of electronics and as a coating used widely in a range of settings. This is due to the array of features and benefits that silicone rubber offers. Read on to find out more about what silicone rubber is used for, and how our team of elastomer experts can help you to select the correct compound for your application.

What are the advantages of silicone rubber?

First, to better understand the applications in which silicone rubber is used, it is important to fully understand its features and benefits.

The primary benefit of silicone rubber is its excellent heat resistance. This useful and versatile rubber offers outstanding high-temperature resistance, continuing to operate in temperatures from -60°C to +250°C. This means that silicone rubber can be used in applications that are often exposed to extreme temperatures, either high or low. In addition to this, silicone rubber demonstrates excellent electrical properties. This means that silicone rubber is routinely used in electrical applications due to its ability to protect the user and equipment from surging and electrical shocks.

Silicone is also favoured due to the fact that it offers excellent resistance to weathering and ozone damage. This makes silicone rubber well suited to applications that require a rubber product to regularly be in contact with the elements, under a hot sun all day long, or in contact with heavy amounts of precipitation.

In addition to this, silicone rubber features exceptional tensile strength, tear strength, elongation and compression set which makes it far superior to a number of other conventional rubbers. The tear strength of silicone rubber is generally thought to be around 9.8kN/m, however, expert elastomer engineers can modify polymers to create silicone rubbers that can withstand considerably higher compression sets and tear strengths.

Another striking advantage of silicone rubber is that it has a high level of thermal conductivity. Much higher than most other rubber materials. As a result of this, silicone rubber is often used to make products such as thermal interface sheets and heating rollers.

Overall, silicone rubber is a generally high-performance elastomer that is ideal for use in both high and low-temperature applications due to its unique structure. This unique compound structure ensures that silicone rubber is flexible and retains a consistent shape and usability, whilst being used across a range of applications and temperatures.

What is silicone rubber not used for?

Now that we better understand the advantages of silicone rubber, it is important to note that it does have its disadvantages, which make it unsuitable for use in certain applications. For instance, one of the primary disadvantages of silicone rubber is that it is not resistant to superheated steam. As such, this means that silicone rubber may not be well suited for use in certain environments that mean it will come into contact with steam at extremely high temperatures, such as in certain food manufacturing applications.

What is silicone rubber used for?

Now that we understand the advantages and disadvantages of silicone rubber, and therefore how well suited it is to different environments and applications, we can understand exactly where silicone rubber is used and what it is used for.

The typical applications of silicone rubber tend to include:

Automotive,
Food storage,
Construction and restoration,
Electronics,
Medical applications.

Below, we will delve into this topic further to better understand the uses of silicone in our homes and within industrial settings.

You will perhaps most commonly know silicone as being used in household applications. Most of us will have some form of silicone compound being used in our bathroom every single day. Due to its adhesive properties when in mastic form, silicone rubber is often used to stick, or bond, building materials together. For instance, these can include ceramics, glass, metal, plastics, stone and cement. One common example of this is silicone around a bath or shower tray, as well as using silicone to stick things to a wall, for instance, tiles.

However, when it’s in cured form, silicone rubber is inherently non-stick. This is why it is often used in kitchenware such as spatulas, baking sheets and baking moulds. Here, silicone makes the perfect accompaniment to most kitchen tasks due to its ability to withstand extremely high temperatures without losing shape.

Silicone rubber is also often used in the manufacture of equipment for the healthcare, medical and pharmaceutical sectors, as well as in the manufacture of food. This is because silicone rubber has no smell, whilst also being low leachate and non-toxic, making it ideal for use in food moulds and breathing apparatus.

In addition to this, silicone rubber is often employed in the aerospace industry to manufacture seals, hoses and air ducts. This is thanks to its weather and ozone resistance, as well as its wide operating temperature range. This also makes silicone rubber a useful addition to paints and sealants.

Finally, silicone rubber is also fire retardant and offers low toxic smoke properties. As a result of this, silicone rubber is an invaluable polymer for use in mass public transit and where halogenated products can’t be used, such as in computer and server installations.

DLR Elastomer Engineering – Silicone rubber experts

Here at DLR Elastomer Engineering, we have decades of experience in the design, manufacture and development of bespoke rubber and polymer compounds. Our team of elastomer experts are on hand to help you to develop the perfect solution to your application, manufactured from a wide range of materials. We understand the benefits of silicone rubber and the areas to which it is well suited, which means we can advise you on the most suitable solution for your application. To find out more, speak to one of our team who will be happy to help you. Send an email to technical@elastomer.co.uk to find out more.

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DLR Elastomer is a leading manufacturer of bespoke elastomeric products & components for high performance industrial & engineering applications.