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Silicone Tubing: Definition, Types, Properties and Uses

Silicone Tubing: Definition, Types, Properties and Uses

Silicone tubing also know as silicone hose and silicone pipe, is a highly recommended versatile and eco-friendly material used in a vast range of applications such as food & beverage, medical, automotive and industrial. Silicone tube can be found in the products we use in our daily lives, this modern marvel of material science combines flexibility, durability, and biocompatibility, making it indispensable in applications where traditional materials fall short.

In this guide, we discuss its uses, properties and types. You will learn more about the silicone tube production process and some of the notable advantages of this product.

orange silicone tube

What is Silicone Tubing?

Silicone tubing is a type of safe, no-toxic, flexible and durable tubing made from silicone rubber, a synthetic polymer derived from silicon, oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen. Silicone tubing can be stretched without tearing, and it cannot be weakened with repeated bending and twisting due to its significant flexibility.

Silicone tube also has extreme weather resistant and temperature resistant, it has a major role in a variety of industries and applications involving the transfer of liquids and gasses. Silicone hose has a fantastic range of properties that make it the preferred material for tubing in many situations.

Properties of Sililicone Tubing

Non-Toxic and Odorless
Silicone tubing does not release toxic fumes and is odorless, making it safe for use in sensitive applications like food processing and pharmaceuticals.

Biocompatibility
Medical-grade silicone tubing is biocompatible, meaning it does not react adversely with biological tissues. This property is critical for medical devices and implants.

Flexibility & Elasticity
The flexibility of silicone tubing is one of its most remarkable characteristics, contributing to its widespread use in various applications. This flexibility arises from the unique properties of silicone rubber.

Temperature Resistance
Silicone tubing remains flexible over a wide temperature range, from -40°C to 250°C. This property is essential for applications requiring movement or thermal cycling.

Durability
Silicone exhibits excellent properties, including resistant to aging, weathering, and UV radiation. So silicone tubing does not degrade easily, ensuring long-lasting performance.

Chemical Resistance
Silicone tubing is resistant to many chemicals, making it suitable for transporting various fluids without the risk of degradation or contamination.

white silicone tube

How to Manufacture Silicone Tubing — Extrusion Process Is Preferred

Silicone tubing is manufactured through a widely used method called the rubber extrusion process. The extrusion process is cost-effective and can produce large batches of products in a very short lead time.

The process is initiated when a heated and cured silicone-formulated compound is preformed into a slab or strip.

The next step is to feed the formed silicone into a screw extruder. The screw extruder forces the compound through the hardened steel die. The extruder head holds the die in place, and the die shapes the silicone tubing once the silicone has been forced through. The silicone profile then exits the die and is cured by being continuously pulled through a heated and cured oven.

extruded silicone tubing production

Types of Silicone Tubing

Silicone tubing is widely used in various industries due to its flexibility, durability, and resistance to extreme temperatures and chemicals. The follow are the common types of silicone tubing:

Food Grade Silicone Tube

Food grade silicone tubing is a type of silicone tubing specifically formulated to meet stringent safety and health regulations for use in food and beverage applications. This type of tubing is designed to be non-toxic, odorless, tasteless, and resistant to various food-related chemicals.

medical grade silicone tubing

Medical Grade Silicone Tube

Medical grade silicone tubing is a type of silicone tubing designed and manufactured to meet the stringent requirements of the medical and pharmaceutical industries. It is known for its purity, biocompatibility, and ability to withstand sterilization processes.

Medical Silicone Drainage Cross Tube

Platinum-Cured Silicone Tubing

Platinum-cured silicone tubing is a type of high-purity clean-room produced silicone tubing that is cured using a platinum-based catalyst. This method of curing enhances the tubing’s properties, making it suitable for applications requiring superior purity, flexibility, and biocompatibility, such as critical pharmaceutical, biomedical, cosmetic and food applications.

platinum cured silicone tube

Reinforced Braided Silicone Tubing

Braided silicone tubing is a type of reinforced silicone tubing designed to handle higher pressures and provide greater mechanical strength compared to non-reinforced silicone tubing. This reinforcement is typically achieved by incorporating a braided layer of polyester or other synthetic fibers within the silicone matrix.

Braided Reinforced Silicone Hose

Silicone Foam Sponge Tubing

Silicone foam tubing is a type of silicone tubing characterized by its lightweight, flexible, and spongy texture. It is produced by introducing a foaming agent during the silicone manufacturing process, which creates a cellular structure within the tubing. This structure provides unique properties that make silicone foam tubing suitable for specific applications.

customized silicone foam tubes

Peroxide-Cured Silicone Tubing

Peroxide-cured silicone tubing is a type of silicone tubing that is cured using a peroxide-based catalyst. This curing process gives the tubing specific properties and makes it suitable for various industrial applications.

Colored Silicone Tubing

Colored silicone tubing is silicone tubing that is manufactured in various colors to meet specific functional and aesthetic requirements. The coloration can be achieved by adding pigments during the silicone manufacturing process.

Applications of Silicone Tubing

Silicone tubing’s versatility, biocompatibility, chemical resistance, and ability to withstand extreme temperatures make it an invaluable component in numerous applications across different fields.

Medical and Healthcare

Due to its biocompatibility and flexibility, silicone tubing is widely used in the medical applications, such as foley catheters, drainge tubes, peristaltic pumps, and IV lines. It must conform to the body’s contours without causing irritation or harm.

Food and Beverage

Silicone tubing is widely used in the food and beverage industry due to its non-toxic and odorless nature. It is commonly employed in dairy processing, brewing, and water purification systems. The tubing’s ability to withstand high temperatures and repeated sterilization processes ensures hygienic and safe operations.

Automotive

In automotive applications, silicone tubing is used in fuel lines, coolant systems, and vacuum lines, where durability and reliability are paramount.

Pharmaceuticals

The pharmaceutical industry relies on silicone tubing for fluid transfer and drug delivery systems. Its chemical resistance ensures that the purity of pharmaceutical products is maintained, while its flexibility and clarity aid in process monitoring and control.

Industrial Applications

Silicone tubing is also used in a range of industrial applications, including fluid transfer, sealing, and insulation. Its versatility allows it to meet the demands of various processes, from chemical manufacturing to electronics.

silicone tubing is widely used

How To Clean Silicone Tubing?

If you are using silicone tubing in a food product processing environment, it is very vital to clean the silicone tubing regularly, you can boil it to clean the goo inside the hose. It should be cleaned regularly to prevent blockages and foul odor.

If you use silicone tubing in the automotive industry, the easiest way to clean the silicone tubing is: to use hot soapy water to clean the inside of the tubing. As for the temperature of soap water, there is no strict requirement for silicone tubing to be heat-resistant.

How To Sterilize Silicone Tubing?

(1) Gamma irradiation. But this sterilizing method can change the structure of silicone as well as silicone become easier to knot

(2) Electron beam irradiation;

(3) Ethylene oxide is another effective sterilization method for most organosilicon materials. But this method has a drawback: silicone will absorb ethylene oxide, so you need to remove the substance before using silicone tubing.

In Conclusion

As mentioned above, silicone tubing is a tough elastomer that exhibits many good properties, including high resistance to temperature ranges, high flexibility, good wear and tear resistance, and resistance to UV and ozone. These benefits make silicone tubing a popular choice in a variety of applications, such as medical, automobile, dairy, food, beverage, and pharmaceutical industries. Because of the different grades in which silicone tubing is available, careful considerations must be made when choosing for silicone tubing for a specific type of application.

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