How are silicones used in Industrial Assembly?

Answers to your questions on how silicones are used in multiple applications and industries for assembling parts, heat insulation and protecting electronic components. 

 

What are the main applications for silicones in Industrial Assembly?

The list of industries using silicones for different assembly processes is almost endless: aeronautics & aerospace, automotive, transport, home appliances, traditional and renewable energy suppliers, etc. They are being adopted by an ever-growing number of industrial producers, both large and small, as new and innovative uses of this ultra-versatile material are developed. High-performance off-the-shelf and customized silicone solutions are used for sealing, gasketing and bonding parts, to protect electrical components (potting, encapsulating, and insulating) and to shield parts from water, dust, chemical and environmental hazards. 
The materials used in these applications must be durable, safe and, depending on their use, offer exceptional adhesion and outstanding mechanical performance, as well as resistance to extreme temperature variations, corrosive fluids and fire.

In the following FAQs, we provide information on specific applications and the advantages of silicone solutions.

Is silicone a good insulator for industrial assembly and electronic protection?

Silicones are an excellent heat insulation material for industrial assembly and electronic protection because they offer different formats and degrees of density, providing the basis for a highly flexible range of products that can be used simultaneously for heat insulation, gasketing, bonding and protection against all hazards.

The major features and benefits include their outstanding bonding properties on a wide variety of surfaces with heat stability over a vast temperature range (- 70°C to + 350°C, as well as resistance to UV rays, weather hazards, salt mist, etc.). Thanks to silicones’ good dielectric properties and thermal protection capacities, they offer a high combination of insulation rates. That is why silicones are a prime material for heat, mechanical and electrical insulation, both in terms of performance and compliance with rigorous international standards and specifications.

Silicones also control the entire temperature management system of power systems by optimizing the trade-off between heat and power transfer, conduction and convection, thus reducing thermal runaway, while ensuring safety.

 

What is potting in electronics?

Potting is a method for protecting and insulating electrical and electronic components by selectively or completely filling an enclosure or hollow area in a sensitive area of an electrical system. Silicone has become a material of choice to protect all sensitive electronic components such as sensors, actuators, central processing units (CPUs), printed circuit boards (PCBs), junction boxes, switching panels (IGBTs), etc. Beyond electronic components and IT applications, silicone potting materials are also used for critical parts in batteries in electrical vehicles and other transportation applications. This is because, in addition to providing excellent insulation, Silicone potting acts as a stable and reliable line of defense against all outside threats, including environmental aggression, such as dust, moisture and extreme temperature variations. Silicone potting also protects against shocks and vibrations, solvents, and corrosive agents. Potting silicones are also used as a key element in flame retardancy and heat dissipation.

 

How does adhesion of silicone materials work?

Depending on their formulation or the technologies used – RTV-1, RTV-2, gels, foams, etc. – adhesion can be modulated for different degrees of tack, from controlled adhesion to self-adhesion (chemical link). A wide range of additives can be integrated into silicone elastomers to ensure this specific characteristic. The adhesive features can be coupled to other performance requirements, such as electrical insulation or conduction, heat transfer capacity, fire and thermal resistance, etc. For example, silicone gels provide especially high levels of tack because of their intrinsic mechanical properties. Self-adhesive silicones are excellent for their shearing capabilities and outstanding flexible bonding. Silicone formulations can be designed to meet manufacturers’ needs, taking into account their production environment and process requirements.

 

Why are silicone foams particularly efficient in fire resistance?

In many industrial applications, resistance to fire is critical. This is coupled to other features, including low emission of smoke and non-corrosive and non-toxic fumes when fire does occur. All these fire resistance features can be integrated into all silicones, but silicone foam (also referred to as expanded silicone) is best for the fullest levels of protection.  Silicone foam is a soft, flexible, and spongy material that provides the performance benefits of other silicones (gels, elastomers etc.), but with added suppleness. These advantages contribute to the manufacture of foamed gaskets or foam parts (like cushioning and seating) or full coverage of the surfaces to be protected, with the added advantage of being a lightweight material.

Beyond fire protection, foams are ideal for the enclosure of electrical cabinets that will resist high temperatures and invasive chemicals or fluids. Manufacturers of housing for parts in transport, for example, use silicone foams for their ability to withstand high levels of vibration and their light weight, thus contributing to energy savings.

To protect battery system from the external environment, OEMs need to work on thermal insulation right from the initial design stage of the entire battery pack.

Insulation foams have clearly become the material of choice for battery and power pack protection. Silicone battery interstitial fill solutions have proven their performance advantages in over one million EVs, to help prevent disastrous thermal runaway, while maintaining lightweight agility in 15 billion BEV miles driven and counting. 

The many qualities of silicone foams have become essential to provide safe products to end users and to comply with strict regulatory standards.