“The mechanical and elastic properties do not vary, no matter how often you exert a mechanical load,” explained Angermaier.
On account of their dielectric properties, silicone elastomers are categorised as electroactive polymers (EAP), which are capable of responding to electrical stimuli.
This means that silicone films are able to serve as actuators for converting electrical voltage into movement.
The reverse is possible, too: silicone films can also convert mechanical movement into electrical voltage, which makes them suitable for designing new kinds of EAP-based sensors.
As the films do not deteriorate over time, they are an option to dielectric films based on organic polymers.
“In laboratory trials,” said Angermaier, “silicone films have survived thousands of load cycles without the slightest fatigue. Their properties match key requirements for EAP based transducers, including actuators and even sensors, another commercial driver for this product.”
Silicone films, according to Wacker, are the key for developing extremely precise and efficient working sensors and actuators for sports wear, consumer electronics, medical, and healthcare applications.
“In so called smart wearables”, Angermaier added, “sensors based on silicone films are used to measure biometric data by tracing limb movements.”
One of the high-growth segments of the medical market is wound care, according to Chris Claussen of Momentive, which offers a special silicone gel for open and closed wound applications such as wound dressings, scar management, and tapes.
According to Claussen, Momentive senior global marketing leader, elastomers; the low viscosity, solvent-free, clear and colourless two-component silicone was developed in response to the budding advanced wound care market which is growing at approximately 3-4 percent CAGR.
“Manufacturers are looking to combine high skin adhesion and atraumatic properties with improved cost-effectiveness,” explained Claussen.
Innovations in adhesive technology, it seems, will continue to be a major trend as high strength and skin adhesion with painless skin removal and repositioning ability are becoming key features of wound-care products.
While acrylics have high permeability properties, explained Claussen, they can be painful to remove, are not typically repositionable and can damage skin upon removal.
However, the silicone gels provide the atraumatic properties with high skin tack, enabling coaters to produce wound care dressings in lower coat weights.