In order to understand what silicone rubber is and what it is used for, it is necessary to go right back to the start and understand rubber in its purest form. Natural rubber actually derives from rubber trees and was first discovered in South America. The Olmec were the first major civilisation in Mexico and were the first culture known to make use of this natural resource. In fact, Olmec actually means ‘rubber people’.
All other types of rubber not derived from the rubber tree are synthetic or man-made. A synthetic polymer is a new substance which is a mixture of various materials. The word polymer comes from the Greek word polumeros, meaning ‘of many parts’. An elastomer is a particular type of polymer which has elastic properties, such as rubber.
What Exactly Is Silicone?
One type of elastomer is silicone. Silicone displays both elasticity and viscosity – this is called viscoelasticity. Silicone contains a chemical element called silicon – note the different spelling. Silicon is an ingredient of silicone. Silicon is extracted from silica, which comes from sand, and this involves a long process of passing through hydrocarbons before mixing with other chemicals. Silicon is just one ingredient of silicone. It also contains oxygen, carbon and hydrogen. This intensive and complex process is one reason why silicone can be expensive compared to natural rubber.
What Is Silicone Used For?
Silicone is an incredibly popular material and has a wide range of
uses. Silicone is used commonly in agricultural, pharmaceutical and automotive
industries. It is used commonly for hoses in these industries, and silicone
hoses are available from https://www.goodflexrubber.com/pages/silicone-hose-manufacture, for example.
Silicone has many other applications, including use in advanced robotics in technology.
What Are the Benefits of Silicone?
Silicone has many benefits, which is why it is such a popular material in many areas. The material composition and production process of silicone mean it has a great deal of flexibility, which is one of the key benefits. Silicone also has thermal stability and is able to withstand extremes of temperatures far better than natural rubber. When looking at these benefits with the example of hoses, mentioned previously, we can see that hoses made of silicone are able to transport fluids at higher temperatures, have greater flexibility and have a longer lifespan than natural rubber hoses.