Choose Silicone: Five Situations Where This Is Your Perfect Material

Apr 9, 2019

Silicone is one of the best multipurpose polymers out there. Its widespread use, not just in the sealing industry, is testament to the amazing properties of this material. The molecular make up of silicone, with a backbone of alternating silicone and oxygen atoms, gives it some unique characteristics that make it a top choice for certain applications.

Here are just five examples of situations where silicone is a top choice of material for you.

  1. If you’re using it outdoors

Silicone is amazingly resistant to ozone, UV and weather, all key considerations if your assembly is going to be open to the elements. Although exposure to these factors can be mitigated to some degree in a lab, out in the open, there’s not much you can do.

Outdoor seals andgaskets which are exposed to sunlight can reach internal temperatures of as high as 60°C. At the opposite end of the spectrum, they can also experience freezing temperatures in the winter. In addition to this, UV and ozone can cause cracking and degradation in materials susceptible to them.

The high energy siloxane bonds in silicone means it maintains integrity in a range of challenging conditions. It’s one of the most weather resistant polymers available, and a great choice for use outdoors.

  1. If it’s going to get very, very hot

Silicone has one of the widest temperature ranges of any material, making it a top choice for applications involving extremes of heat. Normal silicone’s operating temperature can go as high as +230°C. However, specialist types of silicone can be manufactured to withstand even higher temperatures, as much as +300°C.

  1. If it’s going to get very, very cold

Standard silicone maintains integrity down to temperatures as low as -84°C. However, specialist compounds such as phenyl methyl silicone (PMQ) have been developed to perform even better. PMQ has a working temperature range which goes as low as -100°C although, again, prolonged exposure is not recommended.

  1. Where cost is a consideration

Although not the cheapest material out there, silicone is far from being an expensive choice. What you get in terms of heat resistance and other characteristics offers excellent value for money in comparison with other, similar performing compounds.

  1. In static applications

When we’re considering what silicone is good for, it’s a good idea to think about what it’s not good for too. Silicone, by its nature, has poor resistance to tears and abrasions. It also has weaker tensile strength, which means it sill suit some applications better than others.

Notably, it is more suited to static applications, rather than dynamic ones, where there are no moving parts and it won’t need to stretch or compress to extremes.

There are, of course, many other places where silicone is a great choice of elastomer. It’s odourless, tasteless nature and resistance to microbial growth make it a popular material for use in the pharma and food industries, to name just a few.

If you’d like to find out more about silicone and whether it’s right for your project, talk to NES for expert advice.