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Why Use Silicone Rubber?

March 15th, 2012

Silicone rubber is the most versatile and resilient material to work with. Silicone was discovered in the 1800s and is used in a variety of products. There are a multitude of reasons to use silicone rubber, but in today’s blog let’s focus on five key benefits:
•    Durability
•    Decorating
•    Temperature Resistance
•    Shape
•    Safe Material

Durability
Silicone can handle some of the most extreme environments, from the hottest deserts to freezing winters, with no discernable impact on the material. It can be subjected to the harshest cleaning chemicals with no effect. For example, medical silicone molding in some hospital environments has been through thousands of enclave cycles (steam cleaning). It performs at its best in the outside environment, where UV and water have no effect on custom molded rubber products.

Decorating
By using pigments mixed in silicone, it is easy to color silicone from the entire part or just parts of it.  When forming silicone parts in different colors, the pigment must be mixed prior to molding. To add color as copy or as fields of color using silicone inks, there are three processes that can be used to apply the ink, screen-printing, pad printing and spraying. By using silicone inks, the color is permanent and has all of the fine characteristics as silicone itself. Each application must go through a curing process to ensure a cross link of the ink to the silicone.

Temperature Resistance
When designing products, you should always consider how temperature would affect the performance and environment. Fire can happen at any time. Most silicones can meet Underwriters Laboratories rating of UL 94 HB. Some silicones can meet a UL 94V-0 rating. The fire is not the problem, but the smoke. Silicone does not give off toxic chemicals when exposed to fire. Other materials, when burning, can give off dangerous chemicals that can cause serious injury. Another key issue  to consider with custom molded rubber products is that when extremely hot items touch silicone, there is no effect on the material and it leaves no marks.

Shapes
The most exciting aspect of silicone is that it can be formed to any shape you can imagine. This offers designers the options to create a custom molded rubber products that meet flow and functionality for any industry, such as aerospace, automotive, military or medical silicone molding. For the same cost you can have a product that offers appeal in the form of the right shape, not the old look of a square and flat design. Four molding processes, Extruding, Transfer, Compression and Liquid injection accomplish forming silicone.  All these processes will be covered in detail in another article under silicone molding.

Safe Material
You are probably aware of all of the product recalls for chemical exposure, such as lead paint, mercury and carcinogens. Well, silicone gives off no toxic compounds even under heat, so it makes custom molded rubber products a great alternative for manufacturers. Silicone can be cleaned with disinfectants or antibacterial cleaners, which makes it perfect for hospitals and other areas where disease is a concern. Silicone is also non-conductive, tasteless, odorless and resistant to staining.

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