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Almost all manufacturing businesses have applications for silicone gaskets because silicone is very versatile. Silicone and silicone-based gaskets generally have many desirable qualities, including superb resiliency and heat resistance. They are available as molded gaskets, foam or sponge gaskets, and shapes cut from solid silicone material. Some manufacturers make specialty gaskets from different materials, such as gel-based silicone or silicone molded with metal, for specific industrial applications. A few of the distinctive businesses that use gaskets made from silicone include food and medical institutions, aviation- and automobile-based industries, and electronic manufacturers.
Gasket manufacturers typically make silicone gaskets in one of four different ways. They use die-cut or water jet equipment to cut solid gasket material to create solid gaskets. Sponge and foam gaskets are similar, but the material used is slightly different. The fourth process uses mold injection techniques. Manufacturers order the style of gasket that best matches their needs, such as using foam gaskets for vibration-reducing seals.
Solid silicone gaskets are the firmest type of gasket. Although many gasket makers cut solid gaskets from sheets of solid silicone, some use injection or compression molding techniques. Silicone gasket sheeting is available for people to custom cut their own gaskets.
Sponge gaskets range from soft to firm. The firm grade of sponge gasket material is comparable to the soft grade of solid gasket material. Sponge silicone gasket material is closed cell, called expanded silicone rubber. Manufacturers offer foam gasket material as closed or open cell. Open cell gaskets are effective as dust-resistant seals.
Often companies use injection-molded silicone gaskets in situations where the gasket must be submerged in a liquid, such as water. Generally, manufacturers use food-grade, injection-molded gaskets seal tankers, such as milk, molasses, or syrup haulers. Gaskets made of silicone material are normally stable at extreme temperatures, such as -100°F (-73°C) to 500°F (260°C), which makes them excellent choices for shipping containers and food processing.
Some applications need specialty silicone gaskets. Silicone material that contains metal is often used to create electrical conductivity. Conversely, silicone blended with other materials, such as ceramic powders, may be used to dissipate heat in electronic devices without creating electrical conductivity. These are examples of silicone's versatility. Fluorosilicone is chemical, oil, and gas resistant.
Other qualities that silicone offers include a resistance to aging and fatigue, the ability to withstand sun and ozone degradation, and a resistance to permanent compression. Gel-based silicone conforms to surfaces, and some electronics manufacturers use them as thermal interface seals. Its flame-retardant ability makes it useful in many applications, including diagnostic equipment. Burning silicone is normally non-toxic, and the ash retains its electrical insulation ability.
Typically, companies use food-grade silicone gaskets in water purification and filtration seals, oven and refrigeration seals, and food-manufacturing applications, such as ice cream making apparatuses, cheese-making equipment, and beverage vats. Other gaskets uses include outdoor electrical appliances because of its insulating capability. Buyers can order silicone gaskets in various colors, which is an advantage over natural rubber. Color-coded gaskets also help people use the correct gasket in the proper place.