What is a silicone rubber seal?
A silicone rubber seal is a type of sealing device made from silicone rubber—a versatile elastomer that is resistant to heat, chemicals, and weathering. They primarily act as a reliable and long-lasting seal between two surfaces. Silicone rubber seals come in many different shapes and sizes. They can be O-rings, gaskets, and custom molds, among other things. Silicone rubber offers a number of advantages over other types of sealing materials, such as resistance to UV radiation, ozone resistance, and even oils and fuels . Its temperature and chemical resistance makes silicone rubber one of the most common materials in laboratory and manufacturing sealing equipment.
What does the production process for a silicone rubber seal manufacturer look like?
The process for manufacturing a silicone rubber seal depends on the ultimate application of said seal. In general, however, the process begins with:
- Mixing. Silicone rubber manufacturers will mix silicone rubber with a number of additives, such as curing agents and pigments, to finalize a desired compound that meets all specifications.
- Extrusion. At this point, the silicone rubber is pushed through a die that will shape the silicone into the desired profile and size of the seal. This process sometimes includes cooling the material to hold the shape after extrusion.
- Cutting and trimming. Now that the extruded silicone rubber is in the correct shape and size, the piece will be cut and trimmed to further specify the seal.
- Vulcanization. At this stage, silicone rubber profiles are blasted with heat and pressure to cure the material and make a cross-linked polymer structure—which is critical for achieving proper elasticity and durability.
- Inspection and testing. Once the seals are finished, they are run through inspection for defects such as deformation and discoloration, then tested for properties such as tensile strength and hardness. Any defective products found are instantly removed and replaced.
- Packaging and shipping. Last, but not least, the seals are wrapped up in the manufacturer’s brand packaging and delivered to customers. Packaging varies depending on brand, but most will involve labeling and barcoding for tracking and inventory purposes.
What are silicone rubber seals used for?
Silicone rubber seals are mostly manufactured for the automotive, aerospace, and industrial application industries. In scientific and medical laboratories, silicone rubber seals can be used to secure experiment samples in vials, flasks, or bottles while allowing penetration by needle or syringe to extract or deposit material without compromising the contents within the container. There are even implantable devices like pacemakers and artificial joints that involve the use of a silicone rubber seal. As a whole, silicone rubber seals are widely useful across many, many industries and fields, and will continue to be in the foreseeable future.