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Enhanced thermal properties of silicones

Source:International Plastics News for Asia

Date Published:3/6/2019 12:03:49 PM

WACKER and Fuji Polymer Industries has intensified their collaborative work on the development of innovative thermal interface materials.
Silicone rubber consists essentially of silicone polymers and fillers. They are crosslinked with suitable reactants to produce three-dimensional structures that convert the fluid or ductile rubber compound into an elastic rubber. Silicone rubber is flexible at low temperatures and resistant to heat and ageing (UV, ozone and radiation), is easy to process and has good mechanical properties that remain unchanged over a wide temperature range. Silicone elastomers are used in areas such as automotive and mechanical engineering, electronics and electrics, textiles, baby articles, toys, household appliances and sports articles, as well as in the construction industry.
The many properties of silicone rubber have been known to provide various industries with necessary materials for demanding requirements. Munich-based chemical group WACKER and Japan-based Fuji Polymer Industries, for instance, intensified their collaborative work on the development of innovative thermal interface materials. Fuji Polymer Industries bared its decision to use WACKER’s room-temperature-curing ELASTOSIL® silicones for manufacturing novel silicone-based heat-conducting components. The companies are closely collaborating on developing high-efficiency thermal interface products for electronic devices and for batteries in electric vehicles. Components based on ELASTOSIL® were presented during the 11th International Automotive Electronics Technology Expo 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. 
ELASTOSIL® silicone products, with their universal range of properties, find use in the most varied construction and industrial applications. Their near-to unlimited potential makes them ideal for applications in almost all industries – such as automotive and mechanical engineering, electronics and electrics, textiles, baby articles, toys, domestic appliances and sports articles, and as sealants in the construction industry.
WACKER and Fuji Polymer Industries are leading manufacturers in the field of silicone-based thermal interface materials (TIM) for industrial applications, but have different product offerings. Whereas WACKER, as a silicones producer, supplies non-crosslinked paste-like silicones in the form of gels, adhesives, sealants or encapsulants for liquid metering, Fuji Polymer Industries produces ready-to-use silicone elastomer parts, such as contact mats, films and pads, for electronics and automotive component manufacturers.
“Both companies are experts and possess unique knowledge on how to formulate and process thermally conductive silicones: WACKER in the field of liquid systems, Fuji Polymer in ready-to-use components,” says Christian Gimber, head of Engineering Silicones at WACKER SILICONES. “In the future, we will intensify our collaboration in order to be able to develop innovative materials that meet the constantly growing demands of the electronics and automotive industries.” 
The first fruits of the collaboration are focused on electronic devices and batteries, which generate a great deal of heat that impacts their functionality and service life and can lead to serious faults. Efficient thermal management is therefore increasingly essential in many applications, such as in consumer electronics and electric vehicles. For improved thermal management of components, the industry is increasingly turning to heat-dissipation materials, and WACKER’s thermally conductive silicones can be processed very efficiently, while also meeting  the stringent and rising safety and reliability requirements imposed by the electronics and automotive industries.
Fuji Polymer Industries, too, will benefit enormously from the development partnership. “We have been very much looking forward to this collaboration which is very important for us. WACKER’s technical expertise is an invaluable resource and is extremely helpful when developing new products,” says board member Mitsuhiro Fujimoto. Fuji Polymer Industries will also use WACKER’s “Based on ELASTOSIL®” logo for branding its high-end silicone-based thermal interface materials. 
Expansion in sight
WACKER is increasing its global production capacities for silicone rubber. With expansion measures at several sites, WACKER plans to gradually raise its capacities by a total of 40,000 metric tons per year by 2021. Approximately €100 million has been earmarked for this capacity expansion. With these measures, WACKER is responding to the high demand for silicone rubber in key sectors such as the automotive, electronics and medical industries. These investments are part of the WACKER SILICONES division’s strategy of further expanding its portfolio of specialties.
Silicone rubber is among the most sought-after elastomers in the industry. “Silicones are high-performance materials. They are essential for novel product solutions and belong to the innovation drivers in key industry sectors such as automotive, medical, and electronics,” says Robert Gnann, head of the WACKER SILICONES business division. “Above-average growth is being driven by the trends toward hybrid cars, electromobility and digitalization, as well as decentralized alternative electricity generation using wind and solar power. So, we are making a major contribution to increased sustainability while pursuing our strategy of clearly focusing on boosting specialties in our portfolio.
With capacity expansions in the midstream production steps and downstream production, WACKER will significantly improve the silicone-rubber availability and related service for its customers in the near future. All solid silicone rubber product groups will benefit from these expansion measures. In April of this year, WACKER already brought a new production site for silicone sealants and thermally conductive silicone compounds on stream in Jincheon, South Korea. The production of room-temperature-vulcanizing silicone elastomers and liquid silicone rubbers has also started in Amtala, India, where WACKER manufactures silicones in a joint venture with Metroark.
For 2019, the chemical group is planning further capacity enhance-ments for liquid silicone rubber, high- and room-temperature-vulcanising silicones and thermally conductive silicone compounds at its production sites in Burghausen (Germany), Adrian (Michigan, USA) and Zhangjiagang (China). WACKER is currently also evaluating the option of building a plant for solid silicone rubber at its US-based site in Charleston, Tennessee. WACKER has been producing polysilicon there since 2016. A plant for manufacturing pyrogenic silica, an important filler for high consistency silicone rubber (HCR), will come on stream at this site next year.


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