Silicone elastomers are gaining popularity as a high performing material for use in piping and molds. Here’s a quick overview of some of the major pros and cons associated with the industrial use of silicone elastomers.
Advantages of Silicone Elastomers
Key benefits of silicone elastomers include:
- Quality. Silicone elastomers are suitable for high-performance applications in which exceptional purity is required. They adapt to different manufacturing challenges in different industries, including mold-making, automotive, electronic and household item manufacturing, and more. Silicone elastomers can be made food grade compliant, further adding to their range of potential specialized uses.
- Versatility. Silicone elastomers are easy and economical to customize, allowing you to quickly adapt to changing procedural and performance requirements. It’s for this reason that silicone elastomers are a favorite of dynamic organizations driving innovation in manufacturing and testing.
- Performance. Specific properties of silicone elastomers include a resistance to hot and cold temperatures, allowing them to maintain a low compression set in extreme heat, while remaining flexible at temperatures in environments as cold as -40˚C. Other qualities that silicone elastomers can bring to your application include low flammability, high dielectric strength, sterilizability, durability, and good overall mechanical properties.
Multiple varieties of silicone elastomers are available to meet the needs of clients in different market segments. For more information about potential applications of silicone elastomer materials, or for detailed specifications, please get in touch with SIMTEC today. One of our engineers would be happy to discuss your application and suggest the right material solution for you.
Disadvantages of Silicone Elastomers
Some of the key drawbacks to using silicone elastomers can include:
- Cost. Silicone elastomers are a premium product, so they command a higher price when compared to rubber and other materials. In many cases, however, this higher initial price will be offset by improvements in quality control and uptime due to fewer contamination issues. Determining whether this is true of your application can require a close look at your budget and your production needs.
- Feel. In an untreated form, silicone elastomers can feel slightly sticky to the touch. This gives them a rougher appearance, and can cause dust and other particles to adhere to them. If this is a concern for your application, the risk can be eliminated or minimized by using specific treatments. Contact SIMTEC to learn more about your options.
- Compatibility. Perhaps the biggest disadvantage to using silicone elastomers is chemical compatibility. Despite the superior versatility of silicone elastomers, there are certain environments and applications in which they will perform poorly or react in a negative way. They should not be submerged in alcohol or gasoline. Exposure to latex, sulfur, and certain other materials will inhibit curing. A careful consideration of the chemical environment present in your processes will be required before determining whether silicone elastomers are right for you.
Ultimately, like all materials, elastomeric silicone has both benefits and drawbacks. Though it can be extremely versatile, it isn’t right for every application. To learn more about potential uses for silicone elastomers, get in touch with the SIMTEC team directly.