Silicone elastomers are in general referred as silicone-based polymers that are vulcanized. Silicone elastomers are majorly available in different forms, such as closed cell sponges, solids, thermally conductive and open cell foams. Silicone elastomers with their unique ability to retain mechanical properties over a wide temperature range make them suitable in several industrial sectors like construction, mould making in furniture, automotive applications and electronics division. The market for silicone elastomers is largely dominated by China which is followed by Europe and then the U.S. With several production facilities and availability of local suppliers the consumption of silicone elastomers is expected to rise at rapid pace in China. However this market is expected to be price sensitive with further increase in production rate across several other regions like Middle East and Africa.
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Silicones or polysiloxanes are one of the most versatile polymers consisting of an alternating silicon-oxygen backbone, characteristically with aromatic side group. Silicones are generally classified as elastomers, fluids, or resins based on the extent of cross-linking or their molecular weight. Silicone elastomers are majorly cross linked linear silicone fluids having a three-dimensional structure. In order to increase the strength of silicone elastomers they are added with reinforcing fillers like silica. The major properties of silicone elastomers include excellent ozone and UV resistance, high thermal conductivity, exceptional weatherability, easy to fabricate or process, high gas and drug permeability, outstanding electrical insulating properties, low flammability, low compression set at elevated temperatures and sterilizable.
With this wide range of chemical and mechanical properties silicone elastomers have several commercial and industrial applications as sealants and structural glazing (construction sector), mold making (prototyping and restoration), gaskets, vibration dampers, hoses, spark plug boots, ignition cables and o-rings (automotive sector), door seals and masks(aerospace and aviation sector),adhesives(electronic sector), shoe inserts, bakeware, kitchen utensils, gasketing, tubes, infant care products (consumer goods), dental and surgical devices, orthopedics and prosthetics, medical tubing, sterilization mats and catheters (health care sector).
The extensive range of applications in numerous sectors makes the market for silicone elastomers most lucrative. The growth in automotive sector is one of the most important catalysts for the silicone elastomers. Also the demand for safe and sterile surgical and other instruments in health sector across all countries will boost up the market for silicone elastomers. The common applications in consumer goods will further propel the need of silicone elastomers. As the electronic sector flourishes it will add to the demand of silicone elastomers which are as used as adhesive primarily due to their high thermal conductivity. The increase in aviation sector will boost the aerospace applications will indirectly fuel the need of silicone elastomers.
The major regions that dominate the silicone market are China, Europe and the U.S. However as per current market share China acts as a leader. The major reason behind this is increased manufacturing facilities coupled with the accessibility of domestic sources. The developed countries across the U.S. and Europe are expected to have stable market for silicone elastomers as they face stiff price completion from China and other countries. The other regions like Middle East and other African countries are expected to have upward trend in consumption of silicone elastomers.
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The foremost companies operating in the silicone elastomers market are Reiss Manufacturing Incorporated, Allergan, Arlon Silicone Technologies, ELMET, Dow Corning, Cabot Corporation, MESGO s.p.A, ContiTech AG, Marsh Bellofram, Bentec Medical Incorporated, AkzoNobel, Sigmasoft Engineering GmbH, Momentive, Rogers Corporation, Saint-Gobain, Shin-Etsu Chemical Company Limited, and Wacker Chemie AG.