Silicone manufacturing is becoming more common, as it is capable of being used in many fields.
Its characteristics, including malleability and flexibility, have inspired manufacturers to redesign certain products—while keeping silicone in mind. This advancement has resulted in growing popularity for the material, as industries increasingly look to find ways to take advantage of custom silicone manufacturing.
Custom Silicone Advantages
The growing popularity of custom silicone parts can be attributed to its many different advantages.
For example, silicone is a material that is relatively easy to compress and mold.
It offers flexibility in mold design, which can decrease the molding process time and difficulty. Also, molding tools and machines’ costs appear to be much lower for silicone compared to instruments used for other materials. As a result, the manufacturing of silicone-based products often has a quick turnaround.
With custom silicone being able to fulfill design and production requirements, many fields are opting to use the material, especially when they need specialized products in low quantities.
The medical field uses a significant amount of medical-grade custom silicone for various applications.
That said, silicone products need to go through a series of trials and evaluations to ensure they can last for a long time, and it doesn’t pose a health risk on patients who, say, wear implants under their skin.
To better understand silicone-based products’ implications, many manufacturers have grading systems to categorize products derived from silicone. Generally, these categories are:
- Non-Implantable– Products that are not designed for any form of skin contact.
- Skin Contact Only– Products that can be applied solely for topical use and won’t damage the skin.
- Short-Term Implantable– Silicone products available for implants for up to 29 days.
- Long-Term Implantable– Silicone products available for implants over 29 days. In many cases, they can remain inside the body forever.
Veterinary and Medical Uses for Silicone
Due to its versatility, medical-grade silicone is present in many types of implants and other equipment used in hospitals and veterinarian clinics.
Product manufacturers can rely on the material for softness, flexibility, as well as biocompatibility.
Moreover, many surgical interventions are increasingly using silicone products, as it has a high life cycle. Some examples are pacemakers, septum valves, and knuckle and toe implants. It is also capable of withstanding temperature fluctuations without having any impact on its form or function.
The customization potential that silicone offers has convinced the medical industry to turn to various equipment materials. Nowadays, various items are silicone-based or include silicone components, namely seals and gaskets, tubing, catheters, respiratory masks, menstrual cups, and syringe pistons.
Many academic researchers are shifting their focus towards silicone as they seek other ways to apply it through studies and experiments.
Some researchers who study silicone properties have found new employment methods due to its ease of manipulation. For instance, research has found silicone to be compatible with metals such as aluminum and iron to create alloys (ideal for machine parts). Other studies have also shown it to be a semiconductor for solid-state devices, as well as waterproof.
Many researchers have examined products that already include silicone as their components to draw data from their studies. Among them, computer chips are often taken apart and studied, mainly to find how their silicone elements influence their performance, strength, and durability.
Through these types of examinations, academics have been able to find newer uses for the material. Some of those usages are ceramics, bricks, electronic chips, and solar panels.
With researchers’ findings creating further opportunities for silicone applications, academics may likely continue to study silicone to find further uses.
As mentioned previously, silicone is a conductor, which allows it to convey energy. This quality has added lighting as another industry that has opted for its use.
Many companies have transitioned their LED lighting parts to silicone as the rubber components they use in their products. This change is because silicone is lighter than other materials, capable of resisting extreme temperatures, and can get by weathering brought by oxidation, cosmic radiation, and corona discharge.
Furthermore, the presence of silicone in lighting products creates a seal that protects them from deterioration hazards such as water, moisture, and dust.
Some examples of lighting fixtures that contain silicone are car lights, street lights, stadium lights, lighting fixtures on public transit vehicles, and LCDs.
Sky’s the Limit for Silicone
In a world where customization is becoming more prevalent, custom silicone has enabled many possibilities through its versatility, reliability, and affordability.
With the numerous opportunities it presents to manufacturers, it’s only a matter of time before more industries decide to take it up (in some cases—use it more).
What other products do you think will be made with custom silicone next?