What is a Silicone Elastomer?
Silicone elastomers are compounded using reactive, straight chained molecules together with a cross-linking agent and reinforcement to give good mechanical properties (elasticity, absorption, tear strength).
Silicone elastomers are made with a combination of linear polymers, reinforcing agents, a crosslinker and a catalyst. The viscosity and type of the basic straight-chain molecule combined with the processing temperature determine the type of elastomer produced: High Consistency Rubber (HCR), Liquid Silicone Rubber (LSR), and Room Temperature Vulcanization (RTV). These elastomers can be reinforced with either mineral fillers, such as silica, alumina, calcium carbonate, silicone resins, etc. Radical, condensation or addition crosslinking reactions may be used depending on the technology chosen to meet precise processing requirements. A wide variety of additives can be added to the elastomer in its final composition to ensure specific characteristics (color, rheology, pot life, etc.) or performance standards (electrical insulation or conduction, heat transfer, fire retardancy, chemical adhesion, mold release, etc.).
Silicone elastomer properties
Silicone elastomers are used in high-performance applications, especially in harsh environments where other polymeric materials will fail. Parts made of silicone elastomer rubber ensure long durability and reliability, even when exposed to a wide range of temperatures (from -50°C to 250°C) or to extreme outdoor exposure (humidity, UV, Ozone). Their dielectric properties and thermal resistance are especially well suited to insulate and protect electronic equipment, including protection of high voltage lines. These products will maintain their elastomeric properties, including very high elongation before breaking point and/or strong resistance to tearing (essential in molds, modeling and reproduction, kitchenware, etc.). Silicone elastomers are also innocuous for the human body and are resistant to high temperatures required in sterilization processes, making them ideal for medical applications (skin contact, medical devices, long term implants, etc.).