|SILICONE RUBBER INTRODUCTION
Silicone rubber is a polymer that has a "backbone" of silicon-oxygen linkages, the same bond that is found in quartz, glass and sand. Normally, heat is required to vulcanise (set) the silicone rubber; this is normally carried out in a two stage process at the point of manufacture into the desired shape, and then in a prolonged post-cure process. It can also be injection molded.
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 other 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. 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. However, typical medical products like breast implants and catheters have failed because of poor design.
Once milled and coloured, silicone rubber can be extruded into tubes, strips, solid cord or custom profiles according the size restrictions of the manufacturer. Cord can be joined to make "O" Rings and extruded profiles can be joined to make seals. Silicone rubber can be moulded into custom shapes and designs.
Becoming more and more common at the consumer level, silicone rubber products can be found in every room of a typical home. From automotive applications; to a large variety of cooking, baking, and food storage products; to apparel, undergarments, sportswear, and footwear; to electronics; to home repair and hardware, and a host of unseen applications.
Non-dyed silicone rubber tape with an iron-oxide additive (making the tape a red-orange colour) is used extensively in aviation and aerospace wiring applications as a splice or wrapping tape due to its non-flammable nature. The iron-oxide additive adds high thermal conductivity but does not change the high electrical insulation property of the silicone rubber. This type of tape self-fuses or amalgamates without any added adhesive.