Silicone rubber was the result of the efforts of various chemical companies across the world searching for a material that could handle extreme temperatures. The first appearance of the silicone elastomer came in 1943 and was made available for mass consumption worldwide in 1947. In the decades since its debut, this silicone material has been popular for use in automotive, food handling, electronic, medical and construction applications, among others. This is primarily because silicone rubber has a broad working temperature range that allows it to handle high and low extremes. Silicone products also exhibit good levels of weather and chemical resistance, making them ideal for a host of outdoor and industrial uses. Rubber-Cal offers a variety of different types of silicone sheets that are meant for specific purposes. The strengths of this synthetic silicone elastomer are hard to ignore.
1. Is Silicone Rubber Durable?
Silicone is an extremely durable form of rubber. In fact, one of the unique features of silicone rubber is that it can be purchased in a wide range of different durometers, or hardness. The durometer value is given to rubber to indicate the hardness and elasticity of different products. Silicone sheets are available in durometers of 40, 50, 60 and 70 A. The 40 A silicone rubber will have a higher degree of flexibility and pliability than the much harder 70 A version. Having silicone products offered in different formats like this allows the material to be used for a wide range of applications. Combined with its incredible ability to withstand extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, means that silicone can be used in setting like gaskets, high-intensity laboratory equipment, low compression materials and much more. Silicone rubber also an advantage over natural rubber in the form of temperature and chemical resistance.
1(a). Physical Properties
A good range of temperature resistance is common to the various grade of silicone. Silicone rubber was made to perform well in high and low temperature extremes. It is a generally stable material, with a temperature range going from -103° F to +500° F. This quality makes silicone products ideal for use in applications that see both very high and very low temperatures. Silicone rubber’s impressive temperature properties are further enhanced by its other weather and chemical related strengths. Additionally, outdoor use should not be a concern because a silicone elastomer can resist the harmful effects of outdoor elements like ozone and UV. Since it is an inorganic material, harmful organic matter such as fungi and mildew will not form on the surface of these sheets. Compared to sheets made of organic natural rubbers, silicone sheets last much longer when exposed to the environment. Although the aesthetics of the silicone material might not be the top priority for a lot of people, it can still be a key selling point in making the material appealing for use in a wider range of settings. Due to this, Rubber-Cal silicone sheets come in black, gray, white, blue, brown and red, offering a bold and striking look.
1(b). Chemical Properties
Synthetic elastomers were originally designed to endure in the presence of chemicals, a direct response to natural rubber’s inability to do so. Ever since their arrival on the market, silicone products have been used in applications that see chemicals such as acetic acids, ammonia gas, sodium sulfate and more. It is important to note that the different silicone grades have slight variations on the specific types of chemicals they can resist, so it is always best to double-check with a customer care specialist, what type of silicone rubber is best for your application. Due to this high level of chemical resistance, silicone products can be used in industrial settings where chemicals are being used or stored.
What is Silicone Rubber Used For?
Rubber-Cal offers silicone sheets in Commercial Grade, Premium Grade, 6 different color including translucent, and an FDA grade versions. Commercial grade silicone rubber is the standard of this type we offer. The others feature specific enhanced traits that make them ideal for their respective uses. The premium grade version differs from its commercial grade counterpart in the way it features enhanced physical properties like elongation and tensile strength. Silicone material is popularly used as industrial gaskets in mechanical applications that produce high temperatures, such as combustion engines and electronic devices. Some applications may require exposure to ozone and UV rays. The silicone rubber used as seals and gaskets for construction equipment or in household items face the prospect of being in the outdoors.
Is Silicone Toxic to Humans?
Silicone can be found naturally as an element, however, most silicone material used in commercial or industrial settings are man-made. For instance, “Silicone is a lab-made material that consists of several different chemicals including: silicon (a naturally occurring element), oxygen, carbon and hydrogen” (healthline.com). Liquid silicone is generally toxic to humans but, FDA approved silicone material is available to be used for cooking or food storage. FDA grade silicone elastomer is commonly used as seals in food handling applications because it is made with materials that conform to the standards set forth by the Food and Drug Administration (21 CFR 177.2600). Additionally, silicone is used in cosmetic surgeries in the form of implants, therefore, making it safe for human use as long as it is used externally. The FDA warns that silicone rubber should never be injected or ingested as it may leads to serious health problems that may result in death (healthline.com).
If you have a commercial, industrial, chemical or outdoor application that needs the superior resistance traits of a synthetic elastomer, look no further than silicone rubber. It will function in high and low temperature extremes while resisting the damaging effects of any chemicals and outdoor elements that may be present. Rubber-Cal also makes several different grades of silicone sheets available to consumers. We inventory a variety of gauges from 1/32” to 1/4” thick in styles and colors to match popular industrial needs. Rubber-Cal has the right silicone rubber sheets for you.