An introduction to silicone moulding

The development of silicone rubber was initially motivated by the need for better insulation materials in the production and use of electrical motors. It was first produced as a joint venture between Dow Chemical and Corning Glass in 1943. It soon became clear that the product would have wider uses. Silicone rubber has a better performance in almost all areas compared to natural rubber. The inert nature of silicone means it will not react with most chemicals, which makes it an ideal material for use in medical and surgical equipment, together with many applications in the food processing and catering sectors. Silicone also has good resistance to extreme temperatures and proves far more durable than natural rubber.

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The process.

Silicone moulding starts with unvulcanized silicone (i.e. uncured). Silicone in its raw state is either creamy-white or a gel-like transparent colour. At this stage, it can be coloured to suit the needs of the finished product. It is then mechanically cut into sizes suitable for the mould chosen. After this, these pre-cut pieces are placed in the mould, which consists of two halves. This is then pressed in a vulcanizer moulding machine which pushes the silicone into all areas of the pre-defined mould.

Heat and pressure are applied until the silicone is cured. It is then ready for the final process, involving removing any excess or flashing from the finished product. There are a great many grades and types of silicone and rubber products to choose from depending on the final application, as can be seen here

Properties can be anything from flame retardant right through to materials with antimicrobial properties, which reduce the presence of bacteria and mould on the surface. This is invaluable in the manufacture of cooking and baking moulds. A range of fillers is available to mix with silicone when high-grade usage is not necessary, which reduces the costs further.

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As you can imagine, the potential uses of silicone moulding are almost endless. With further growth expected in the silicone market, things have never looked brighter for businesses in the silicone moulding UK sector.

Limited only by the imagination.

Whether it is a small hobbyist run or a large-scale production project, silicone moulding can offer creative solutions. The combination of materials, additives and the use of an incredible variety of possible moulds means that the only limit is our imagination.

Author: Richard Brown

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