Silicon Rubber


The first silicone elastomers were developed in the search for better insulating materials for electric motors and generators. Resin-impregnated glass fibers were the state-of the-art materials at the time. The glass was very heat resistant, but the phenolic resins would not withstand the higher temperatures that were being encountered in new smaller electric motors. Chemists at Coring Glassand General Electric were investigating heat-resistant materials for use as resinous binders when they synthesized the first silicone polymers, demonstrated that they worked well and found a route to produce polydimethylsiloxane commercially.



Silicone rubber offers good resistance to extreme temperatures, being able to operate normally from −55 C to +300 C. At the extreme temperatures, the tensile strength, elongation, tear strength and compression set can be far superior to conventional rubbers although still low relative to other materials. 

Organic rubber has a Carbon to carbon backbone which can leave them susceptible to  ozone, UV heat and other ageing factors that silicone rubber can withstand well. This makes it one of the elastomers of choice in many extreme environments.

Compared to organic rubbers, however, silicone rubber has a very low tensile strength For this reason, care is needed in designing products to withstand even low imposed loads. The material is also very sensitive to fatigue rom cyclic loading. Silicone rubber is a highly inert material and does not react with most chemicals. Due to its inertness, it is used in many medical applications and in medical implants.

     Silicone rubber is a synthetic rubber that can withstand extremes in temperature that would destroy natural rubber. The properties of silicone rubber remain constant when cooled to negative100 degrees Celsius or heated to 250 degrees Celsius. This characteristic of silicone rubber makes it an excellent choice for use in kitchen appliances for either freezing or cooking food. Silicone rubber is a popular choice for window and door seals because it can withstand extreme temperatures but is a good insulator. Thus it will help to keep your house cool in the summer and warm in the winter.


     Silicone rubbers are very flexible due to large bond angles and bond lengths and can be elongated 100 to 1100 percent before they break. These large bonds can move and change conformation to make for a flexible material. They have a Shore hardness of 10 to 90 on the A scale. This means that while silicone rubbers are flexible, they are also resistant to scratches, abrasions and wear. Silicone rubbers are particularly remarkable for their extremely low glass transition temperature. They remain flexible at temperatures as cold as negative100 degrees Celsius. They tend to stiffen up at very high temperatures, however. Silicone rubbers are flexible but have a low tensile strength, which means that care should be taken when silicone rubbers are used in load-bearing applications.

Resistance to Hydrocarbons, Oils and Solvents

         Silicone rubbers are often used in medical applications because they are extremely non-reactive and resistant to hydrocarbons, oils and solvents. Silicone rubber is a very popular material for medical implants such as breast implants. While it is flexible and durable, silicone rubber will not dissolve when exposed to oils or other liquids. It is also extremely sanitary since it has a silicone backbone instead of a carbon one and is resistant to bacteria and germs. Silicone rubber's resistance to oils and solvents makes it a good choice for automotive and aeronautic applications since is can function in oiled machines without heavy wear and tear.


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