What is the History of Silicone?

Technology News

Like many historical “facts”, there is dispute over when the word “silicone” was first coined. However there is agreement that it was popularised by Frederic Stanley Kipping, an eminent British chemist and Fellow of the Royal Society from 1897, the same year he became professor of chemistry at the then University College of Nottingham where he worked until 1936.

The work was built on by other chemists throughout the 1930s. James Franklin Hyde improved the production process and exploited its heat resisting quality in the design of new generators and motors, whilst the same idea was taken up in Germany by the Wacker Chemie company. Wacker Chemie remain at the forefront of silicone technology today and recently announced a 3D printer that can use silicone – something that developers have previously struggled with.

What is the History of Silicone

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The nomenclature of chemical agents is stricter since the 1930s and “silicone” is not an accurate chemical description. A more correct one is polysiloxane (the “-one” suffix denotes a double bonded oxygen atom which “silicone” does not contain). Whatever you call it, it consists of a repeating chain of alternating silicon and oxygen atoms and has found an almost inexhaustible range of technological uses.

The Modern World Would be Impossible Without Silicone Products

Silicone hose manufacturers like https://www.goodflexrubber.com/pages/silicone-hose-manufacture produce a vast range of mouldings, hoses, gaskets and connectors in silicone, for use in a variety of industries – from automotives to washing machines, from agriculture to hospitals. These injection moulded rubber-like products are probably how many of us think of silicone, but they are also used in everything from liquid detergents, paint and face creams to non-stick pans, shock absorbers and car tyres.

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The amazing thing about silicone is that it can be both liquid or solid, it can be hard and brittle or soft and flexible, it repels water and yet allows vapours to pass through enabling surfaces to still “breathe”, and it both prevents adhesion and can be used as an adhesive (hence those peel and play children’s stickers!).

This remarkable material is highly resistant to both cold and high temperature, light and radiation, pollution and chemical corrosion. It is also bacteria resistant, hypoallergenic and environmentally friendly. Many products can be recycled, and it helps our modern companies comply with a whole range of environment protection legislation that would be impossible without it.

Written by suNCh8

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