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What’s Silicone?

What’s Silicone?

Although it’s been around for a while, as advancements in technology increase, so do the uses of Silicone. But just what is this material, what are its benefits to the user and the world, and how can it be used?

 

What is silicone made of?  

Silicone is a man-made material created by combining the same proportion of elements of different molecular weights, better known as a synthetic polymer. The prefix “Silic” comes from the base element of the polymer: sand (silica quartz). Sand is mixed with oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen to create a pliable, rubber-like material that is able to withstand extreme temperatures and heavy use.

What are the advantages of using silicone?

In essence, the key advantage is that nothing adheres to silicone and no chemicals need to be added to make it a performance fabric.

Also silicone’s ability to withstand temperatures, including high heat, without breaking down or off-gassing adds to its health benefits. It is also BPA-free (important for end-users in particular), holds its shape, and is flexible.

Silicone in and of itself is a very environmentally-friendly and human-friendly material.

1. It’s really “green”, because it’s made from natural elements: silica, quartz, oxygen, carbon, & hydrogen.
2. Unlike polyurethanes, which are sometimes made with oil, Silicone does not degrade over time from hydrolysis (hydrolysis is when a material or surface reacts to water and starts to break down and separate into its smaller compounds. In other words, basically it begins to slowly disintegrate, fall apart, melt)
3. No stains or ink marks can stick to the surface of Silicone
4. Inherently flame retardant (doesn’t need Halogenated flame retardants – meets all California and Washington state chemical requirements like Cal-AB-2998)
5. Inherently does not support microbiological growth (doesn’t need antimicrobial or antibacterial additives)
6. Can be easily cleaned and disinfected with all kinds of commercial and household cleaners (bleach, 409, Lysol, Virox-Virex, 60% Rubbing Alcohol, etc)

Is it sustainable?

The sustainability story of silicone is more involved than understanding how it’s disposed of.  While silicone is not specifically biodegradable it CAN be recycled where silicone recycling facilities exist.

It is also made of a natural material – silica sand – which is abundant and easily sourced. The type of rock that makes up sand – quartz –  is the 2nd most abundant element found in the Earth’s crust.

More importantly, the sustainability story of silicone lies in the fact that it can withstand long hard use, making it a reusable alternative to single-use products or to products that wear out. In fact, in 2012, a study of silicone’s lifecycle found that silicone usage over time saved an average of nine times the amount of greenhouse gases that were needed to manufacture the Silicone material in the first place.

Additionally, the use of silicone can greatly increase the productivity and efficiency of products that are used every day.

Where can silicone be used?

A wide range of silicone products can be found due to its ability to withstand dramatic differences in temperature, soft touch, ease of production, and durability. In particular, silicone provides advantages for the healthcare sector since it doesn’t need additives to deter microbiological growth, can withstand heavy wear-and-tear, and hold up against strong cleaning products.
Just a few suggestions where Silicone Performance Fabric is ideal:

Outdoor-Indoor  Upholstery
Commercial
Healthcare
Hotel
Restaurant & Lounge
RV
Cruiseship• Marine• Yacht
Education
Upscale Residential