A Brief Silicone History Lesson

Historically, silicones presented the automotive industry with some challenges – they were typically one-part, room-temperature-curing materials with a slow curing process – resulting in longer wait times, an increased need for testing and inspection of work in progress (WIP). Ultimately historical silicones were not ideal for optimised productivity.

However, as we moved into the 1990s and the 2000s, the industry witnessed a significant shift. One-part heat-cure materials started to become prevalent. These materials offered shorter curing times, typically at temperatures ranging from 130°C to 150°C. Although this innovation did speed up the curing process, it introduced new challenges. Ovens and hot handling systems were required to achieve the heat cure, which added complexity and cost to the manufacturing process.

During this period, TSE322 emerged as the industry standard - gaining popularity due to its exceptional adhesion properties, long-term storage stability, and consistent performance. TSE322 addressed many of the issues associated with traditional silicones, offering improved reliability in automotive applications.

Changing Automotive Market Demands

In recent years, the automotive industry has undergone further transformations. Customers have become increasingly sensitive to process costs, driven by concerns about energy expenses, the maintenance of ovens, handling of hot materials, and the potential for pre-stressed parts. Factors which have prompted automotive manufacturers to seek cost-effective, efficient alternatives.

TECHSiL is increasingly being approached by automotive manufacturers looking for innovative solutions that address these challenges. We believe there are several routes we can take to help reduce production time and energy consumption, minimize process risk and save money.

Adapt and Improve

Advanced silicone formulations that offer faster curing times at lower temperatures will assist in reducing the energy costs associated with heating ovens. We have developed the new rapid cure grade which respects the benchmark set by TES322 however exceeds it; replicating the performance of TSE322 but with a lower activation temperature and exceptionally adhesion, especially on thermoplastics.

This new grade offers cure performance between 90c - 100c with varying time requirements depending on the substrates. Even at lower curing temperatures, this material exhibits better adhesion failure than found with TSE322 as its failure mode is cohesive rather than adhesive, exceeding the physical strength of the material. PBT would need 60 mins at 150c to get 100% cohesive failure, whereas our new material would only need 30 mins at 100c, saving both time and energy.

To further enhance our offering, TECHSiL have also recently released a room temperature, two-component fast cure material with a reasonable open time. This material provides quick adhesion build up to enable fast processing; it’s receptive to a moisture or elevated temperature cure temperature and has a convenient 1:1 mix ratio. Exhibiting excellent adhesion to PPS, metals, ceramics and many engineered plastics without the use of a primer.

How can TECHSiL Help?

As a consultancy focused technical support team, TECHSiL can assist in optimising your silicone application process to reduce waste, improve efficiency, and minimise the need for extensive testing and inspection. Exploring alternative materials to suit your exacting application challenges whilst also investigating innovative application methods, such as robotic dispensing systems, to enhance precision and reduce material waste.

In conclusion, while TSE322 remains an excellent material for many automotive applications, the evolving needs of the industry require innovative solutions to reduce costs, save time, and mitigate process risks. TECHSiL is committed to working closely with our customers to develop and implement tailored solutions that address these challenges and drive efficiency in the automotive manufacturing process.