Whether it be designing a new product, or improving an existing piece of equipment, the choice of material is extremely important. It can be overwhelming picking the right material when there are so many options available on the market. We at Jehbco are often asked to help consult our customers on what elastomer is the right choice for their application.
In this article, we’ll explore the different properties of silicone and electrically conductive silicone (ECS), and what applications each material would be best suited for. Silicone and ECS are both silicone-based products, but ECS is normally impregnated with electrically conductive particles which changes the physical properties of the material. While both elastomers may be used to create similar products, the specific application and environment will ultimately determine whether silicone or ECS will be the better choice for you. The table below summarises some of the key differences between the two materials
|Electrically Conductive Silicone||Silicone|
|-60 °C to 170 °C||-50 °C to 230 °C|
|Excellent compression set||Excellent compression set|
|Average weather resistance||Excellent weather resistance|
|Approx. tensile strength 8 MPa||Approx. tensile strength 9 MPa|
|Poor abrasion resistance||Poor abrasion resistance|
|Not compatible with: hydrocarbon fuels, alkalis and acids, steam over 121 °C, halogenated solvents||Not compatible with: hydrocarbon fuels, alkalis and acids, steam over 121 °C, trichloroethylene, aromatic hydrocarbons.|
|Compatible with: oils, brake fluids, hot and cold water, salt water, fire resistant hydraulic fluid, ozone.||Compatible with: oils, brake fluids, hot and cold water, salt water, high molecular weight chlorinated hydrocarbons, fire resistant hydraulic fluid, ozone.|
It is no surprise that the mechanical properties of silicone and ECS are similar, as they are both silicone-based products. The loading of conductive particles in the ECS material framework is normally not enough to cause any major changes to the fundamental elastic physical properties (tensile strength, compression set, and abrasion resistance) compared to a standard silicone material. However, the conductive particles impregnated within the ECS material provide ECS with a number of different properties that make it very useful for niche applications.
As the name suggests, ECS is electrically conductive, which makes it ideal for use in the electronics industry. ECS can be used a conductor, as well as anti-static and electromagnetic shielding (EMS) applications. This is in stark contrast to standard silicone material, which generally conducts a lot of static and does not provide any EMS capabilities.
Another benefit of ECS is that the conductive particles also increase in the thermal conductivity of the material. ECS can been used in heat exchange components as a heat transfer medium in semiconductor applications. Conversely, standard silicone has good insulative properties and can be used as a heat shield/protective cover for fluid transfer systems.
It is clear to see that there is merit in using either silicone or ECS, depending on the specific application you require and the operational environment. For help selecting a material consult our applications page and contact us with any questions.