Silicone (formally referred to as polymerized siloxane or polysiloxane) refers to any of a number of polymers containing alternate silicon and oxygen atoms, whose properties are determined by the organic groups attached to the silicon atoms. Silicone is fluid, resinous, rubbery, extremely stable in high temperatures, and water-repellent, making them ideal for use as adhesives, lubricants, hydraulic oils and insulation in a broad array of fields.
One of the key elements of silicone silicone blocks is its ability to maintain it’s mechanical properties over a wide range of temperatures, -80° F – 400° F (60° C – 205° C) and in some cases normality can be sustained in an even broader range of temperatures.
Silicone is often mistakenly referred to as “silicon”. Although silicones contain silicon atoms, they are not made up exclusively of silicon, and have completely different physical characteristics from the element silicon.
Silicone gaskets and pads are available in open cell foams, closed cell sponges, various durometer solids, and is readily molded in a wide variety of colors. There are high tear strength silicones, reinforced silicones, electrically conductive silicones, and thermally conductive silicones.
There are silicone foams that are UL94-V0 rated which is commonly required in the transit and electronic sectors. It performs well in compression set tests, and silicone is also naturally UV resistant which makes it ideal for numerous outdoor applications.
Extreme temperature resistance, stability with extreme environmental and chemical stress, and durability are some of the reasons silicone benefits aviation and aerospace. Silicone rubber sealants are currently used to fasten interior and exterior doors, windows and paneling. Fluid resistance makes silicone ideal for fuel control diaphragms, hydraulic lines and cable clamp blocks. Silicone rubber keypads are even used in computers on earth and in space.
Silicone sealants are commonly used to seal gaps, joints, and crevices in buildings being constructed or renovated. Both professional and retail grade silicones are abundantly available for this purpose. These one-part silicone sealants cure by absorbing atmospheric moisture, which helps in the professional installation. A moistened finger or damp cloth is all that is needed to apply, and many do-it-yourselfers typically use this method to apply silicone caulking. Similar methods work for urethane caulking, the largest competitor of silicone caulking.
Silicone demand in the US will grow 4.7 percent annually through 2010, driven by performance and environmental advantages over acrylic, polyurethane, and rubber. Silicone fluids have, and will continue to have the highest demand. Demand for silicone gels will grow faster based on renewed growth in the electronics sector.