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Fascinating Silicones Si Chemistry and Silicone Toolbox

Close up scientist examining liquid in test tube

Silicone Toolbox

The Benefits of Silicone Science

Silicones take numerous forms and can be engineered to deliver an almost unlimited range of enabling and problem-solving benefits.

Silicones are unique materials unlike anything else in this world. They combine the advantages of glass and plastics. Like glass (which is silicon-based), silicones are temperature- and moisture-resistant, chemically inert and dielectric. Like plastics (which are carbon-based), silicones are strong and able to assume many forms. Learn more about their extreme versatility below—and be sure to download our complete guide to silicone chemistry for all the details.

Material Forms that Fuel Innovation

Silicones take many forms—from free-flowing resins, rigid plastics, flexible rubbers, greases and powders to fluids thinner than water or thick as paste. From these basic classes of silicone materials, thousands of unique silicone products have been engineered to meet the needs of product designers, manufacturers, people and municipalities around the world.

An Amazing Range of Functions

Silicones can be engineered to perform an amazing range of functions—from adhesives to release agents, antifoams to foam stabilizers. No matter what you need a material to do, chances are that silicone has already done it. Here are only some of the thousands of functions silicones can perform:

A Host of Problem-Solving Features

Although silicone can be engineered to take on an incredible variety of forms and properties, many types of silicone share some common features that give them distinct advantages over other materials.

  • Good wetting and spreading: Silicones flow easily and evenly over surfaces that would cause other materials to bead up. 
  • Long-term elasticity, pliability and flexibility: Stretch them, twist them, drop things on them and compress them, and they will quickly return to their original shape.
  • Weather resistance: Silicones are known for their long-term resistance to rain, sleet, snow, ozone, acid rain and damage from the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays.
  • Stability under challenging conditions: Silicones are highly resistant to damage and degradation from extreme temperatures, thermal shock, chemicals and oxidation.
  • Resistance to aging: Silicones do not harden, crack, peel, crumble, dry out, rot or become brittle with age the way carbon-based organic materials do.
  • Inertness: Silicones don't react with most materials, unless intentionally designed to do so.
  • Water repellency: Silicone materials are naturally hydrophobic, making them right for all kinds of waterproofing applications.
  • Strong adhesion properties: Silicones can provide outstanding adhesion, even between substrates that normally cannot be bonded with other materials.
  • Excellent dielectric properties: Silicones are popular as electrical insulators, helping to protect the integrity of wires, cables and electric circuitry.

This unique combination of characteristics enables silicones to outlast and outperform most organic materials.

The bottom line: silicones make existing materials work better—more efficiently, longer and more reliably. They fuel our imaginations and make new products possible. In a society that runs on performance and strives for sustainability, silicones are invaluable tools.