Leonardo da Vinci is considered the ultimate Renaissance man. Sure, he was an artist, scientist, architect, and inventor. But even he would be impressed by the versatility of silicone foam gaskets.
It’s not often that a single material is so widely adopted across different industries. However, silicone foam gaskets play a critical role in medical devices, electronics, food processing, and aerospace applications, just to name a few.
Why is foam silicone so versatile for gaskets?
Compared to other sealing materials, such as natural rubber, silicone offers a combination of unique properties that make it suitable for a wide range of applications:
Durability and low compression
Resistance to moisture and chemicals
In addition to these broad attributes, silicone foam meets specific industries’ unique demands. Let's take a look at some examples.
Silicone foam is the go-to material for gaskets and filtration components in the medical device industry. You can find silicone in ventilators, pacemakers, catheters, medical pumps, fluid transfer connectors, feeding devices, and many other medical devices.
Medical-grade silicone is biocompatible and non-toxic, which is critical for applications involving bodily fluids or tissue. The material can also withstand extreme temperatures and harsh chemicals used in common sterilization processes. You can read more about the benefits of silicone for medical-grade seals and gaskets.
Contaminants such as dust, dirt, and moisture are an electronic device’s worst nightmare. Silicone foam gaskets come to the rescue by providing excellent sealing and insulation to protect sensitive internal components. Additionally, gaskets can be designed to provide cushioning, noise-dampening, and vibration absorption properties.
In food processing, safety is priority number one. Food-grade silicone is tasteless, odorless, low in volatiles, and does not discolor over time. In addition to meeting strict regulatory requirements, silicone seals offer ruggedness to withstand the harsh conditions of food processing, including exposure to high temperatures, moisture, and chemicals.
As you can imagine, aerospace applications pose unique conditions for seals and gaskets. Silicone is up to the challenge with its ability to withstand extreme temperatures, pressure, and vibration. In fact, silicone gaskets can maintain their performance in temperatures ranging from -148°F to 392°F (-100°C to 200°C).
Choosing a manufacturing partner for silicone foam gaskets
Regardless of your industry, there are several manufacturing considerations when developing a silicone foam gasket. The first is material selection, including ensuring compatibility between the silicone and adhesive and any other secondary materials.
It’s also essential to understand and appreciate the complexities of multi-layer constructions. Creating a silicone gasket isn’t as simple as cutting a single material and calling it a day. Gaskets can be cut into custom shapes, so precision is important for proper fit into your application. The multiple layers must also align perfectly. Finally, multiple processes can waste time and material if not planned correctly.
At Tapecon, we combine materials selection expertise and custom converting capabilities to develop high-quality silicone foam gaskets. Our extensive industry experience can help you avoid some common pitfalls of gasket manufacturing. Finally, our facility is FDA-registered for medical and food processing applications.