As a group of materials, silicones are made out of polymers that contain oxygen, carbon, hydrogen,and silicium. Apart from the fact that silicone compounds are considered very clean and therefore highly preferred in the food and medical industries,other properties make them well sought after in the mechanical engineering field as well.
For starters, silicone compounds have a very high tolerance for extreme heat as well as an impressive capacity for low temperatures, and this makes them perfect components for O-ring production. They are, however, not very good when it comes to tensile strength, abrasion resistance, or tear resistance.
Why Choose Silicone O-rings?
To understand why choosing a silicone O-ring might be the best idea you come up with for your business you will need to understand the important role that O-rings play in our day to day lives.
Most, if not all, machines have moving parts. These parts often come into contact with other parts causing friction. As such, different types of lubricants are used to ensure that this friction caused does not cause a spark or eat away at the different parts coming into contact with one another.
O-rings are circular seals that go into cylindrical applications to ensure that no media such as fluids, air or lubricants pass through the joints or other breaks formed by these moving or stationary parts of a machine/system. Therefore, the ideal O-ring should be:
- Easy to install
- Made of components that can handle intense pressure
- Made of components that do not corrode easily
- Made of components that do not easily react with their surroundings
O-rings are generally made from a wide range of materials depending upon the intended applications. Because some O-rings are intended to come into contact with tremendous heat or noxious chemicals, it is imperative that they are made out of stable compounds that can withstand these conditions; compounds such as silicone.
What are Some Uses for Silicone O-Rings?
One of the main reasons why silicone O-rings are highly sought after by a wide range of industries including the medical and mechanical fields is because silicone is an inert material. This means that it does not react with most chemicals. Couple that with the fact that silicone compounds have a wide range of temperature tolerances and you have the perfect material for O-ring production.
Here are some silicone O-ring uses in a variety of fields:
Silicone O-rings in the Medical Industry
In the medical industry, some procedures require the implantation of complex systems into the human body to help improve their quality of life. Some of these implants tend to have moving parts and require sealants such as O-rings that are not only made out of non-corrosive compounds but are also not going to cause any kind of reaction within the patient’s body. They are also used in this field because they are generally very resistant to the type of fat and fluids that are typically found within the human body.
Silicone O-Rings in the Food Industry
The FDA approved silicone O-rings to be used in the food industry because they are not toxic in any way. These O-rings can be found in a wide number of food handling equipment and appliances such as coffee makers, water filtration devices and a host of other specialty food handling devices used in both industrial and domestic food production.
Silicone O-Rings in the Pharmaceutical Industry
There is no doubt that genetic research and drug discovery requires the employment of aggressive experiments using machines that work within harsh chemically charged environments. These machines often need to have gaskets and sealing components that are not only non-corrosive but are also generally inert,so they do not cause unwanted reactions with the chemicals and compounds being researched.
Silicone O-rings exhibit all those qualities plus they have a wide temperature tolerance range that makes them perfect for research machinery.
The list is seemingly endless. If you can find an industry that uses machines that work under extremely corrosive conditions or that require inert components, then you have found an industry that could effectively use silicone O-rings. These include:
- Mining and exploration
- Oil, gas and even green energy
- Water treatment and waste
Even high precision industries like aeronautics, automotive, aerospace, and jewelry production all require silicone O-rings within their machines, tubing and/or piping systems.
Why Silicone O-Rings are an Excellent Choice
As we have already mentioned, silicone as a compound is generally very inert which makes it the perfect material for the production of components that go into machines of any kind. Additionally:
- Silicone offers excellent resistance to extreme temperatures: O-rings made of silicone can withstand temperatures ranging from -50°C to + 232°C (-58°F to +450°F)
- High retention quality: in many cases, when most materials come into contact with extreme heat they lose some of their elasticity and retention properties. That is not the case with silicone
- It is resistant to UV radiation and more:silicone is resistant to UV radiation, animal fat, vegetable oils, hot air as well as engine and transmission oils. It can also be compounded so that it is flame retardant, conductive and electrically resistant.
Furthermore, silicone O-rings are designed and made out of a material that can naturally withstand a great deal of pressure without losing its basic structural integrity. This is one of the most important aspects when it comes to O-rings in any industry.
If the component can be trusted to work well and maintains its integrity through the most rigorous test and extreme conditions, then it is well worth it.
Silicone O-rings, like O-rings made out of any other material, are affordable, easy to install and do not require any critical torque or tightening. As such, they are not likely to cause any structural damage to the machine itself.
They do, however, sometimes need lubrication in case the O-ring is wedged between two rapidly moving pieces. This prevents the O-rings from quickly deteriorating. Silicone O-rings come in many different colors and sizes,but they all have the same excellent qualities that lead to their FDA approval.