It might surprise you to know that you have regularly walked on the main material that is used to make silicone. It is silicon dioxide common sand from your local beach. Silicone manufacturers heat the sand in a furnace, where it produces the silicon metal. From there it is ground to a powder and added to a Fluidised Bed Reactor.
Along with the silicon, methylene chloride and copper are added to the reactor which then mixes everything at a very high velocity. The high velocity mixing separates out the solids, and various other chemicals are made from the reaction between the silicon and the methylated chlorine. These are known as silanes, and can be mixed back together or added to siloxanes and metals to make various silicones with unique and individual properties.
With the exact process varying based on the type of silicone that is needed, silicone manufacturers can develop techniques that allow them to change the properties of their products and to experiment with new ways to produce silicone, saving money and making it more effective and diverse as a material. The addition of air bubbles can lead to the creation of silicone sponges and foams that have bouncy, flexible properties whilst solid silicone can be used to create anything from a silicone tube for transporting liquids to silicone bakeware for your kitchen.
Silicone putties have liquid properties and are often used in cleaning, or sold as children’s toys, whilst liquid silicone makes an efficient lubricant for machinery and can extend the life of wind turbines, cars and mass transit vehicles.
Silicone, as a manufacturing material, is more popular than ever before. It is strong, long-lasting and resistant to almost all of the things that usually cause damage to metals and standard plastics. Silicone manufacturers can make various silicone products to their exact requirements, and can shape their products with silicone moulding techniques.