Silicone rubber is an elastic and flexible polymer made from certain types of silicones. It is generally used in making gaskets and insulation. Silicone rubber must be manufactured to create its rubber-like property, which lends itself to shaping and moulding processes. Silicone rubber is used for many purposes; there are notable advantages and disadvantages when using this material.
Types of Silicone Rubber
There are four types of silicone rubber: compounds, bases, liquid silicone rubber and fluorosilicone --- rubber compounds and bases mixed together. Compound silicone rubber comes ready to use. It is available in different colours and individual applications. Bases silicone rubber has reinforcing fillers. Colour and compounds can be added to bases for different pigments of rubber or to make the rubber stronger or sturdier for different uses. Liquid silicone rubber is injected and pumped through a rubber machine. The rubber machine produces heated and cured moulds of silicone rubber. Fluorosilicone is a combination of rubber compounds and bases. This combination forms silicone rubber moulds that produce superior resistance characteristics.
The greatest advantage of silicone rubber is its considerable resistance powers. Silicone rubber has the ability to resist acids, bases, solvents, chemicals, oils and water.
Economical and Versatile
Silicone rubber is stable and versatile. It is stable because of its reliability; it can remain in service for a long time and thereby reduce production costs. Silicone rubber is versatile because it contains compounds that are easy to mix. It also does not pose the danger of flammable or toxic solvents. Newly moulded silicone rubbers will cure or dry at room temperature without the need for an oven. Rubber of this capacity can easily bond to primed surfaces. Electrical and mechanical properties of silicone rubber can remain unchanged from extreme temperatures to low temperatures.
While silicone rubber reduces production costs, moulding and sustaining some rubber can become costly. For example, liquid silicone rubber can increase costs due to the need for an injection rubber machine and oven-curing methods.
Some silicone rubbers can be bulky or thick in appearance, which can be a disadvantage if hoping to create a discreet look. Silicone rubber also has a high viscosity, resisting the force that allows liquid to flow. This is a disadvantage if using silicone rubber in insulation. This rubber must be vacuumed and degassed to stop bubbles from becoming trapped in the rubber. Silicone rubber can also be resistant to curing (referred to as cure inhibition) if there is contact with substances containing sulphur or clay. Except for liquid silicone rubber, all types of silicone rubber are susceptible to these disadvantages.