What are the different types of Rubber?

There are two main types of rubber, synthetic man-made rubbers and natural rubber. Natural rubber, commonly known as latex, is harvested from the rubber tree. Latex is a sticky material drawn from the tree by making incisions in the bark and collecting the fluid that drains out in a process known as “tapping”.  The first uses of rubber was by the indigenous cultures of Mesoamerica who used the material to make rubber balls, containers and to waterproof textiles.

Any material which is not formed from natural rubber is known as a synthetic rubber.  Materials are mixed together to form what is called a synthetic polymer. An elastomer is a polymer that displays both viscosity and elasticity.

What is Silicone Made of?

Silicone rubber is categorised as a synthetic elastomer. It is man made and has viscoelasticity – i.e. it is both viscous and elastic. Materials that display these properties are known as rubbers. Silicones are compounds made up of repeating units of siloxane, which is an alternating chain of silicon and oxygen atoms which are combined with hydrogen and carbon.

How is Silicone Rubber Produced?

To make silicone, the ingredient silicon must be isolated from silica. This is done by heating large volumes of quartz sand to high temperatures, up to 1800°C.  From here there are several processes where silicon is combined with methyl chloride and heated, then distilled into polydimethylsiloxane. The polydimethylsiloxane can then be polymerised using a variety of techniques depending on the use of the final product.

The production of silicone rubber base compounds can be done on a mass scale at relatively low costs. As a result, silicone has become one of the most popular elastomers for both commercial and industrial usage.

At Viking Extrusions all our grades of silicone are mixed using our in-house milling facilities. We take the raw silicone compound, add pigments and additives as required then blend with catalyst ready to be extruded and cured by high temperature vulcanisation (HTV).  The use of in-house facilities means everything we produce is fully traceable to its original batch and we can ensure the highest standard of quality management throughout the entire process from raw compound to finished product.

What are the Advantages of Silicone Rubber?

Silicone rubber is used across a diverse range of industries due to its many useful properties such as:

  • Thermal Stability – silicone maintains its properties across a wide range of temperatures (-70°C to + 200°C)
  • Low chemical reactivity
  • Resistant to IV and Ozone
  • Repels water – useful for making watertight seals
  • Low toxicity
  • Electrical Insulation – silicone can be formulated to both be insulating and conductive.
  • Does not support microbiological growth.

Find out more about the applications of silicone rubber.

Learn More

To learn more about the properties and applications of silicone rubber please contact one of our technical advisors who will be happy to answer any queries.