The Various Uses of Silicone Polymers
Silicone sponge, or closed cell silicone sponge, is derived from a thin sheet of uncured silicone gum. The silicone gum compound is mixed with pigment and other ingredients during a rigorous mixing process. The still uncured silicone is then rolled into thin sheets and heat cured in a high temperature press or similar procedure.
At this point in the process, the silicone silicone blocks expands. The product is then often submitted to an additional four hour post-curing process at 480°F in a hot-air, circulating oven to enhance the compression set properties and reduce the incidence of out-gassing in the final assembly.
Typically, the silicone is cured on a Teflon-coated, fiberglass bleeder cloth. Doing this allows gasses to escape as the sponge expands during the curing process. Without the bleeder cloth, large air pockets would form that would affect the sealing properties of the gasket material. This is also what produces the fine, fabric surface finish on the cured sponge, characteristic of all closed cell silicone sponges.
‘Closed cell’ means that the cells are non-interconnecting, subsequently not allowing water or air to leak through the sponge at low pressures. Generally, the superior mechanical properties of closed cell silicone sponge provide better weatherproofing than open cell silicones. It provides excellent sealing properties for products subject to rain and harsh outdoor conditions. One downside of closed cell silicone sponge products is the inability to achieve flame ratings beyond UL94HB.