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DowCorning increases fluorosilicone capacity

Dow Corning - Rubber Fabrication Industry : 08 October, 2002  (Company News)
DowCorning increases fluorosilicone capacity to ensure reliable long-term supply of Silastic brand fluorosilicone rubber.
Dow Corning has significantly increased its fluorosilicone capacity with the start up of a new specialty silicone intermediates plant at its manufacturing complex in Midland, Michigan. The $16MM capacity expansion supports increased demand for its Silastic® brand fluorosilicone rubber (FSR), and ensures reliable long-term supply.

The new plant is designed to produce fluorosilicone intermediates with increased purity that results in higher strength of finished fluorosilicone rubber products, while ensuring lot-to-lot consistency and superior FSR performance. Typical applications for Silastic® brand FSR include automotive and aerospace fuel sealing systems, fuel resistant electrical connectors, and sensing diaphrams for emission control systems, among other demanding applications.

“The capacity expansion reflects our commitment to the rubber industry,” says Charles Olsen, global market specialist, Fluorosilicone Elastomers at Dow Corning. “We are now able to ensure uninterrupted Silastic FSR supply for critical and high-volume applications, such as intake manifold gaskets to meet LEV II emission requirements.”

The manufacturing processes of the new plant decrease waste, significantly improve responsible ecological care, and increase lot-to-lot consistency through centralized computer control.

Compared to fluorocarbon and other organic rubber products, Silastic brand FSR offers faster cycle times, lower scrap rates, and improved de-moulding as well as easier part handling and assembly. The lower density of FSR can result in as much as 20% more parts per unit weight than other types of higher density flouroelastomers. As a result, Silastic brand FSR is frequently specified for gaskets and seals, hose, O-rings, and electrical connectors in hostile environments such as automotive engine and drive trains, aerospace components, and production of chemical and hydrocarbon products.

Fluorosilicone rubber like Silastic brand FSR products—also known by the ASTM designation FVMQ—is a specialized elastomer generally specified for applications in harsh environments. By substituting a methyl side group found in conventional silicone rubber (ASTM designation VMQ) with a trifluoropropyl group, fluorosilicones achieve unusually high chemical resistance even to aromatic hydrocarbons and other aggressive fuels and chemicals. These products retain other desirable silicone properties, including excellent mechanical properties over a wide range of operating temperatures while adding high permeation resistance. As a result, fluorosilicone rubber demonstrates good compression-set resistance under harsh fluid exposure and extreme temperatures, and maintains resistance to softening and embrittlement plus excellent tear and tensile strength despite hostile service environments. Fluorosilicone parts function under conditions that would destroy most conventional materials and even competitive elastomers such as hydrogenated acryloNitrile-Butadiene Rubber (HNBR) and fluorocarbon elastomer (FKM).

“Our finishing facilities around the world help ensure our ability to meet demand for reliable, local FSR supply,” adds Olsen. The specialty silicone intermediates produced at the new Midland plant support Dow Corning’s finishing facilities located in Kendallville, Indiana and Walnut, California, USA; Milan, Italy; Barry, Wales; Fukui, Japan; and, Jincheon, Korea.
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