Silicone applications for the automotive industry

For over 60 years Elkem Silicones has been working closely with the automotive industry, including OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers, to improve quality and efficiency right from the initial assembly stage. For example, we were the first company, beginning in the 1980s, to introduce Cured-in-Place Gaskets (CiPG) and Formed-in-Place Gaskets (FiPGs) using liquid silicone elastomers in engine assembly to replace cork and paper liners! This practice was to become (and remains) an industry standard and has been improved constantly over the years by increasing the adhesion of the silicone material to the parts on which it is applied. 

Today, carmakers must deal with an ever-increasing complexity of industrial, environmental and technological issues: from sourcing raw materials to after-market disassembly, via maintenance, repair, parts recycling, etc. They must also build lighter, safer, more cost-effective vehicles that consume less energy and reduce their environmental and CO₂ footprints. To do this, they must provide customers with a wider choice of vehicles that are powered by more efficient traditional combustion engines, as well as a great variety of hybrid and electrical vehicles (HEVs & EVs) that contribute to the trend for eMobility.

Elkem Silicones continues to work closely with automakers and parts suppliers to help them innovate and improve, from design to disassembly, enabling them to produce the cars that consumers need and desire.

Why are Elkem Silicones automotive solutions the material of choice for the world’s leading automotive industry players?

Elkem Silicones products are present in every part of cars and trucks, from the engine to the vehicle interior, via the body, on-board electronics and accessories. Carmakers know silicone automotive applications are convenient, easy to process, versatile, heat-resistant and stand up to chemical and environmental pressures, making them reliable and stable over time. 

Here are some key automotive parts that use silicones to improve performance:

  • Cylinder head gaskets
  • Engine and gearbox gasketing
  • Power-train sealing
  • Battery modules
  • Battery packs 
  • Headlamp gaskets
  • Electronic control units (ECU)
  • Connectors 
  • Rain and distance sensors

For example, in traditional internal combustion engines, our liquid silicone elastomers used for Cured-in-Place Gaskets (CiPG) and Formed-in-Place Gaskets (FiPGs) are the benchmark products for optimizing the assembly and sealing of gear boxes, engines and cylinder heads.

Silicone raw materials and formulations are also useful to make lighter parts, often replacing metals, and therefore contributing to weight reduction and lower emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gasses. In short, they play an essential role in improving practically all aspects of manufacturing in the automotive industry, from traditional combustion engines to eMobility vehicles. 

On the road to eMobility

All major car manufacturers have launched multiple HEV & EV models and have many more on the drawing boards. One of their main challenges is to ensure that the electrical and electronic parts in this new generation of eMobility vehicles are efficient, reliable and safe. Silicones are used in a wide range of applications for the assembly, integrity and protection of their critical parts. 

Elkem Silicones contributes its experience in sealing and bonding of engine parts, and as well as its expertise in on-board electronics, encapsulation, potting and insulation of electrical parts to move automotive technology forward. It works closely with eMobility manufacturers, from design through to prototyping and assembly, to constantly innovate and improve the quality of this new generation of vehicles.

Thermal management of batteries in eMobility vehicles is a key factor to ensure the effective operation of motors. We work closely with OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers, focusing on the design of battery modules and packs, from the pre-production and prototype phases, through to serial production. We accompany designers and material engineers to find the best solutions and trade-offs between performance, functionality, volume, mass, cost, maintenance, and safety issues. 

 

On-board automotive electronics 

On-board electronics play an increasingly important role in all types of vehicles. Elkem Silicones is constantly developing and improving materials to ensure that critical electrical and electronic components work safely and reliably, from the initial manufacturing stage, and throughout the life of the vehicle. A major priority in our offering is to protect sensitive parts against invasive environmental factors, such as dust, moisture, corrosive fluids, chemicals, heat and potential exposure to flames. This is achieved through a complementary range of specific products for conformal coating, potting and encapsulating. 

Silicones are the materials of choice to protect sensors, actuators, central processing units (CPUs) and printed circuit boards, acting as the first line of defense against outside aggression. Elkem Silicones offers a wide range of technologies to achieve optimal results, including: 

  • Gels, which thanks to their low modulus, can protect against external pressures as well as internal mechanical stress, with easy reworkability for long-term maintenance 
  • Elastomers, which offer high mechanical performance levels, as well as high thermal and fire resistance

Why choose Elkem Silicones as your partner for silicone-based solutions for automotive manufacturing and processing?

Elkem Silicone expert teams and our R&D departments are constantly monitoring market trends and changes in regulatory standards. Our global presence and supply-chain services, our high-quality standards (ISO 9001, PPAP approach, ISO EN 9100 for aeronautics & aerospace, etc.) and our design and process experts have made us a supplier and partner of choice for assembly processes in the most demanding industries. We are available to help you find the right sealing and bonding solutions using our customized range of RTV-1 and RTV-2 elastomers for all your assembly, protection and maintenance needs.

Our process experts work closely with manufacturers and end-users on continuous improvement to optimize all stages of manufacturing and to contribute to the overall automotive value chain, from initial design to after-market maintenance and auto repair. 

The next challenge, currently underway and accelerating is to develop and manufacture self-driving cars, where there is no room for error. These new types of cars are pushing us to develop ever-higher levels of quality and performance in our eMobility products for the sealing, bonding and encapsulation of components to ensure absolute reliability and safety in these driverless vehicles.