What is silicone rubber?
Silicone rubber is an elastomer that is made up of silicone (polymer) together with several other molecules such as carbon, oxygen, or hydrogen. Its structure always consists of a siloxane backbone as well as an organic part that’s bound to the silicone. Silicone rubber’s properties can vary depending upon the chemical structure and the organic group.
Classification and forms
Silicone rubbers can be classified as:
– Methyls – also referred to as MQs or simply methyl silicone rubber
– Methyl and Phenyls – also known as PMQs, these have excellent performance at low temperatures
– Methyl and Vinyl – also sometimes called VMQ
– Methyl, Phenyl and Vinyl – also known as PVMQ and again offering excellent low temperature performance
– Fluoro, Vinyl and Methyl – also referred as FVMQ, these are highly resistant to chemicals, weather, and ozone.
Silicone rubber has three main forms:
Solid Silicone – also known as High Temperature Vulcanised (HTV)
This form of silicone rubber contains polymers with high molecular weight and long polymer chains. It is available in an uncured form that needs traditional processing techniques.
Liquid Silicone Rubber (LSR)
Liquid silicone rubber contains polymers with shorter polymer chains and lower molecular weight. LSR maintains its properties even when exposed to temperatures as low as -50°C and as high as 250°C. It is heat-cured and offers superb optical clarity, durability, and freedom in design. It is a transparent material.
Room Temperature Vulcanised (RTV)
This type of rubber is made from one-part (RTV-1) or two-component (RTV-2) systems, with a hardness that ranges from very soft through to medium.
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The global market for Silicone Elastomer is predicted to reach $9,217 million by 2023.
Silicone v organic rubber
Mainly due to its siloxane structure, when compared to organic rubber, silicone rubber has better:
– Chemical stability
– Heat resistance
– Electrical insulation
– Non-stick/non-adhesive properties
– Abrasion resistance
– Ozone resistance
– Optical transparency.
Silicone rubber is used across numerous industries including construction, aerospace, automotive, medical, and food processing.