Think about the materials and resources you rely on all day, every day. Oil and electricity are close to the top of the list simply because they power so many things. Plastics and paper products factor into most endeavors. And, of course, technical assets like chips and circuits power the avalanche of gadgets in our lives.
But what if something you rely on dozens of times a day from the bathroom to the conference room is also a total mystery? Liquid silicone rubber has been manufactured since the late 1970s and is used in thousands of applications as diverse as automobiles, electronics, and medical devices. But bring it up to most people, and they respond with blank stares. This could change soon, though, because global LSR revenue is projected to grow at 3.59 percent annually through 2021.
The Quiet Revolution of LSR
Liquid silicone rubber has a number of superior properties for employing injection molding processes, including high thermal and chemical stability. Just about any product that relies on soft rubber materials can be made using LSR.
The demand for soft plastic materials has existed for decades. But, historically, the available materials were prone to damage, discoloration, infection, and other forms of failure. The development of liquid silicone rubber removed those limitations and gave manufacturers a more versatile and reliable product, which is why LSR is found in products you use every day.
Surveying the LSR Universe
The last time you pressed the buttons on a TV remote, you were probably pressing on liquid silicone rubber. But its applications extend far beyond consumer electronics and reach into almost every corner of the industry, including:
- Life sciences — LSR allows for the precision molding of advanced medical products and provides the level of sterility that medical professionals demand of any product used on patients. Product designers pick LSR when designing and manufacturing medical silicone parts and devices for a broad range of applications, including medical specialties like oncology and orthopedics.
- Automotive — LSR offers a stress-resistant raw material for rubber automotive components, such as wire seals, gaskets, and O-rings, because of its thermal stability and long-term durability.
- Consumer products — LSR enables high-volume production, making it applicable to products ranging from hot water heaters to spatulas.
Liquid silicone rubber is ubiquitous, and its industrial use and consumption are only projected to grow in the coming years. The material and its properties may be relatively unfamiliar to general consumers, but its applications are familiar to everyone.
Enrique Camacho is the co-founder and president of SIMTEC, a research, and technolog- driven, custom manufacturer of Liquid Silicone Rubber (LSR), LSR overmolded, and LSR 2-Shot (LSR/Thermoplastics) parts and components. Since the company's inception in 2001, they have been continuously developing extraordinary Liquid Silicone Rubber Injection Molding solutions for industry-leading companies around the globe.