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Keywords of this article:  injection molding 
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automotive 
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Supported by advancements in injectionmolding technology, the use of liquid silicone rubber (LSR) has beenincreasingly popular in recent years. Growth in silicone demand is driven bymarkets with high performance requirements, most notably the medical andautomotive markets.


In a non-postcured state, ELASTOSIL LR 5040 (orange curve) features significantly higher tear strength than standard liquid silicone rubber (blue curve).
In a non-postcured state, ELASTOSIL LR 5040 (orange curve) features significantly higher tear strength than standard liquid silicone rubber (blue curve).

Although LSR production has been around for more than 20 years, it appears increasingly in both traditional rubber applications and those where traditional rubber materials had not previously been used.

The rising demand for silicone products can be attributed mainly to their special material properties: they come with superior elasticity and temperature stability. Since LSR feature only a minor reaction with other materials, it is suited for medical engineering.

Offering solutions for medical devices

NPI/Medical in the US specializes in developing products for the healthcare and medical sector. It has recently invested more than US$1 million in new molding and quality equipment to support its fast-growing business.

Medical parts made of LSR.

Its new machine fleet includes a 330 ton Milacron Roboshot, a 80 ton Milacron MV80 Shuttle press, a 40 ton Arburg All-Rounder 270A, all-electric with an integrated Servo driven sprue picker and a ZEISS CONTURA (CMM) VAST XT Gold Coordinate Measuring System with active scanning and multipoint sensor with dynamic RDS.

The equipment upgrade offers several advantages for NPI/Medical’s customers that require speed to market, closed loop machine capabilities, and stringent process monitoring which are vital for new product launches.

Elkem Silicones, formerly known as Bluestar Silicones, has expanded its offering for long-term implantable applications, such as hydrocephalus shunts, central catheters and active implantable devices.

Available in 20 to 80 Shore A hardness range, these high consistency rubbers (HCRs) are supported by device Master Files (MAF) filed with the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

Like all Silbione Biomedical branded products, the materials are produced and packaged in certified and accredited ISO 8 and ISO 7 clean rooms in York, South Carolina, the US.

Gaining advanced applications in automotive industry

Vehicles parts that are made of or contain silicones.In automotive, the vision of the fully autonomous car means vehicles have more and more electronic features; prompting the demand for super clean and integrated LSR components.

While it is a long road ahead before autonomous driving technology is commercially available, one thing is certain – vehicles in the future will use advanced electronics, such as high performance sensors and cables to ensure a high level of safety.

Seal, damp and protect are key to the performance and reliability of composite electrical and mechanical components in Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS).

ADAS components include sensors, switches and other controls with electronic, mechatronic and components based on the principals of LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), radar and sonar technology. LSR has the ability to resist extreme temperatures, ensuring the conductivity of these components and provide them with the insulation to resist heat, moisture and dust.

LSR can also be used as adhesives and sealants to strengthen bonds and enables the use of advanced materials with optically clear material characteristics in vehicles.

Dow Performance Silicones, a global business unit of DowDuPont’s Materials Science Division, introduced a silicone adhesive under the new DOWSIL brand (formerly Dow Corning) EA-6060 to accelerate assembly and lower production costs for automotive module assembly.

Many automotive suppliers are under pressure to speed assembly and lower production costs without compromising the performance of control units and sensor modules,” said Rogier Reinders, Global Marketing Director for Dow. “New DOWSIL EA-6060 Adhesive helps to address all of these challenges by forming fast, reliable bonds on common metal and plastic substrates at lower temperatures than currently available products.”

Available as a two-part formulation, DOWSIL EA-6060 Adhesive develops required adhesion within 30 minutes at 80°C, though the material also allows accelerated cure at higher temperatures. After cure, it delivers reliable adhesion for common substrates, such as the metal housings and plastic lids used in automotive module assembly.

LSR-based products are also gaining recognition in lightings, including vehicle headlamps and traffic lights. Using silicone in the potting and encapsulation of LEDs protects them from vibration, extreme temperatures and air.

With UL 94 V1 and 5VA flame resistance, Silopren LSR 7180 from Momentive Performance Materials Inc. is designed for use in outdoor and area lighting applications.

Under Momentive’s Ultra Clear Silopren LSR 7000 series of optically clear LSRs, it comes with outstanding optical clarity and long-term color stability, enabling LED manufacturers to replace glass and thermoplastics with a lightweight material.

With the introduction of our Silopren LSR 7000 series, we’re advancing the LED lighting revolution with an even clearer, more durable material to help our customers make their most innovative ideas a reality,” stated Timothy Higgins, Momentive’s Marketing Manager.

In addition to its UL 94 V1 and 5VA flame class ratings, it is f1 rated for outdoor use in accordance with UL 746C. 

More productive without postcuring

Curing commonly refers to a heat treatment that provides a material with its end properties. The technical properties of post-cured silicone parts are often superior to those of non-cured articles.

With post-cure, most silicones possess a slightly higher level of hardness and a lower compression set. However, curing of silicone parts is time consuming and energy intensive, as it entails heating the cured parts to temperatures of 200°C for several hours in a ventilated oven.

This process might be skipped soon with the introduction of ELASTOSIL LR 5040 from Wacker Chemie AG.

We designed ELASTOSIL LR 5040 in such a way that this silicone rubber already complies with current regulatory requirements governing applications in the baby-care sector and food industry in its non-post cured state,” said Christian Gimber, Head of the Engineering Silicones business unit at Wacker. “Thus, our customers can eliminate post-curing of silicone parts for sensitive applications.”

Rubber parts made of ELASTOSIL LR 5040 are translucent with a delicate blue shimmer. Their volatiles content – without thermal post-treatment – is below the required 0.5 weight percent.

Even in its non-post cured state, the silicone rubber already exhibits a high level of tear resistance equivalent to that of a post-cured high-tear-strength standard LSR.

ELASTOSIL LR 5040 can be readily processed by injection molding. Since molded parts only requires curing in very few cases, production processes can be streamlined.

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