Silicone Rubber Testing
Silicone rubber is available in a wide range of formulations, often varying across the many industries that utilize this durable, environmentally-resistant, and stable elastomer.
Testing silicone rubber is important for all of these industries as manufacturers strive to improve their products and innovate new solutions to modern problems. Material testing laboratories like ACE’s ISO/IEC 17025-accredited lab in Akron, Ohio provide top-quality testing services to support those new and exciting solutions.
Whether your goal is to meet industry requirements, problem-solve the latest challenge, or guarantee the safety of your product for end-users, a course of silicone testing with ACE will help you meet that goal.
What is Silicone Rubber?
Silicone is an elastomer, like rubber, but the two are atomically different. Most rubbers have carbon-carbon bonds that serve as their backbones. Silicone elastomers, on the other hand, include a backbone composed of silicon-oxygen bonds. This backbone is a siloxane functional group with Si-O-Si linkage. Siloxanes can also include branched compounds in which each pair of silicon centers is separated by one oxygen atom.
Silicone rubber is typically stable and nonreactive. In addition, it is able to withstand extreme environments. Compared to rubber, it possesses greater heat-, chemical-, and ozone-resistance. A versatile compound, its applications are vast and varied across dozens of industries.
How is Silicone Rubber Made?
Silicone is created by isolating silicon atoms from the silicon metal feedstock. To produce silicones, large quantities of quartz sand are heated to extreme temperatures, up to 1800°C.
The silicone then undergoes several processes. First, silicon is combined and heated with methyl chloride. Then, it is distilled into polydimethylsiloxane, a polymerized siloxane, which can then be polymerized.
This is where the process begins to differ, depending on what the final product will be used for. The raw silicone compound can be combined with pigments, additives, and catalysts to be molded or to undergo extrusion. Finally, the silicone rubber can be cured, or vulcanized.
Silicone Rubber Applications
High Temperature Vulcanization (HTV) silicone rubber and liquid silicone rubber (LSR) are used across a wide variety of industries. Its most common applications include automotive parts, cooking, baking, and food storage products, sports apparel and footwear, electronics, home repair and hardware supplies, and many more lesser-known, but still popular, applications.
Liquid silicones are often found in cosmetic product packaging, medical tools, and optics products. Silicone rubbers are also extremely useful for weatherproofing and waterproofing, making them common in waterproof materials such as paper, wood, wool, and outdoor paint.
Silicone is also found in antifoaming agents, mold releasing agents, electrical condensers, sealants, and silicone adhesives.
Electronic applications include computer keyboards and remote controls. Silicone rubber, when mixed with a conductive powdered filler, becomes electrically conductive without losing its mechanical properties.
Silicone rubber is particularly advantageous over natural rubber in the following cases:
- The material will be exposed to high temperatures above 100°C in its end use
- The material will come into contact with food in its end use
- High electrical resistance is necessary
- High steam sterilization resistance is necessary, especially for medical devices
- The material must match a specific color
Testing Silicone Rubber
No matter the industry, testing silicone rubber is useful for research and development, quality control, and ensuring effectiveness and safety for the end user.
At ACE Products and Consulting, we offer a broad selection of ASTM test methods that provide critical information about your silicone material.
Heat aging involves exposing a material sample to higher-than-service-use temperatures over a determined period of time to simulate the thermal aging process. Data collected from comparing the properties and behaviors of the sample before and after heat aging can offer insight on the expected material life cycle and its ability to perform in its end use.
This testing helps determine the lowest temperature your rubber vulcanizate or rubber-coated fabric can withstand without fracturing or cracking when exposed to specific impact conditions. The test can be tailored to your specific product needs through customized temperatures and impact types.
More and more often, it is important to consider the electrical behavior of rubber. Electrical testing predicts the safety, static change, and current transmission of a material when in service. ACE can also perform a quick check of your sample’s volume resistivity and surface conductivity using a closed ring system.
High Quality Silicone Testing Lab
Ready to meet your challenges head-on with a team of rubber and silicone testing experts? Working with ACE Products and Consulting gets you consistent, accurate, and timely results every time. We’re committed to each and every partner, ensuring quality conversations around the specific needs of your material and your industry. We’re here to find innovative solutions that elevate your product to the next level.