What Is Silicone Calendering And How Does It Work?

One of the most highly underrated aspects of silicone is the material’s flexibility. Of course, we all know about how well it works in different functionalities and formulations – but, just as well, silicone exhibits a certain level of flexibility in the way it looks as well. And, for this to be optimized, one of the most critical things that need to be implemented is calendering. 

Thanks to calendering, it is possible for you to create the silicone material in different forms and specifications. In turn, this makes it possible to achieve different end products as well. 

In this article, we’ll be looking at the silicone calendering process, as well as how it works and the materials needed to optimize it as much as possible. 

What Is The Calendering Process For Silicone?

So, let’s get into the first thing – what is calendering and how does it apply to the silicone material? 

In the process of manufacturing silicone, one of the most important steps to consider is calendering. Here, you engage a deeply mechanical process where you pass the raw silicone material through different rollers. These rollers pretty much flatten the silicone, reducing its thickness and making it more refined in its shape. 

With the silicone calendar process, you can produce different forms of the material – all having specific operational properties. As you can imagine the process is performed with a dedicated machine, and it delivers a shiny and smooth silicone output that’ll look incredibly pleasing to the eye. All in all, this process can help you to create continuous, long silicone sheets that are consistently thick and which can either work as standalone materials or be part of an ensemble. 

The Core Principles of Silicone Calendering

For the calendering of fabric to actually go well, it is important to abide by several important principles that guide the process across the board. Feel free to take note of the following: 

Control The Process’s Precision

Just as you wouldn’t start any mechanical process without making sure that everything you do is accurate, you need to keep a close eye on silicone calendering too. For instance, the rollers need to have a consistent gap between them. Just as well, you need to ensure that parameters like temperature are accurate for you to achieve the level of quality and thickness that you’re hoping to get.

The Process Must Be Consistent 

You also need to adhere to the principle of consistency in the calendering process. At the end of the day, the consistency of your input will go a long way in determining what you get out of the result too. 

To that end, ensure that the material properties and quality are consistent. Thanks to processes like milling and silicone compounding, this should be much easier to achieve. 

Be Specific And Customize

Finally, remember to conduct the silicone calendar process based on what you’re looking to achieve. Have a specific goal in mind, and customize both the process and the product based on that.

Key Components & Machinery Involved

Now that we’ve made it easy to define calendering, let’s go into what you actually need. After all, you can’t begin with a process without first setting out your requirements. 

Handling the Raw Material

The primary material here, of course, is the silicone rubber compounds. The compounds are built with the major silicone base, although you can also have additives that help to enhance its overall build and characteristics. 

Tools For Milling & Mixing 

In this scenario, a mixer will help to implement the silicone compounding process. With its use, the different components of the build will be distributed properly within the silicone compound, and you can make sure that you have more consistency across the board – both for your raw material and the product you get at the end. 

Just as well, milling machines are a critical part of the silicone rubber calender process. Their job is to improve processing for the compound, cut out any possible agglomerates and help you to get that singular mixture. 

The Calendering Machine Itself

Well, you can’t have a calendering process without a calendering machine, can you? Now, in this case, the machine itself is made of different mechanisms and tools working together to achieve the right result. They include: 

  • Rollers: Here, you have different rollers – all of which are arranged in a specific series. In most cases, rollers come with a metal material. You also need a temperature control mechanism that allows you to set temperatures based on what you need. 
  • Gap Adjusters: Remember the principle of precision? Well, this mechanism helps to achieve that to a considerable degree. By ensuring consistency in the distance between the rollers, the gap adjusters help ensure that the silicone film or sheet is consistently thick.
  • Parameter Controllers: It is important for you to control two major parameters when it comes to calendering – pressure and temperature. With temperature control, you can implement more heating to help soften the compound. With pressure control, you can significantly cut down on material thickness and compress it well. 
  • Material Conveyor: Finally, remember the conveyor system, which ensures that the compound is able to move seamlessly between the rollers as you process. 

Vulcanization & Curing Tools 

When the major calendering process itself is done, you will need to put the silicone output through a curing ocean. With sufficient heat, the oven prepares the material for vulcanization, where the polymer chains are cross-linked

The Cooling Area

Well, heat’s been added to the material – now, it’s time to cool it up. After vulcanization, you need to cool the silicone to help counteract the effects of the heat and pretty much balance them out. 

Shaping & Winding Tools 

Now that you have your output, remember that you still need to get them in the perfect shape. This is where winding and cutting tools come in. You can continuously cut the silicone film or sheet to get the shape you need, and when you’re done, use a winding machine to roll it. This way, you won’t have much of an issue when the time comes to transporting and delivering the sheet or film to the final consumers.

Inspection Tools

But, before you deliver the silicone sheet or film, remember one last important thing – quality control. 

The last thing you want is for the silicone to be defective. Considering that the calendering process involves several steps, you need to make sure that every aspect of the process is as seamless and as risk-free as possible. 

We recommend that you add inspection stations to the production line. This way, you can keep tabs on the quality of the silicone product as it moves through one phase of the calendering process to the next. Also, have measuring devices ready to take note of things like the material’s thickness, surface finish, and pretty much any other critical parameters. 

Equipment For Protection

Whether you’re the one working on the calendering process or you’re having someone handle it for you, there’s no doubt that you want to make sure that everyone’s safe and accounted for. Som before you even begin, make sure that you have a strong and reliable protocol that outlines how you plan to keep everyone safe here. 

How Does A Calendering Processing Method For Silicone Rubber Work?

Now, we know what you need to get started and done with the calendering process. So, let’s begin – how exactly do you get this process done and what do you need to do?

Bring Out The Raw Materials & Prepare Them

Well, before you start calendering, you need to make sure that your raw materials are ready to go. The raw silicone polymer should be set, and you can also add any possible additives if you want. 

With this mix, your compound will be good to go – as long as you check it and make sure that it is in line with your needs.

Mill & Mix For The Perfect Look

Next, get your compounded silicone rubber and run it through the milling tools we pointed out earlier. This process will help to break down any heterogeneous components and ensure that your material is consistent. 

Then, you have milling – a step that ensures that all the additives you added to the silicone compound are distributed properly. 

Move On To Calendering

Now, you’re in the thick of things. Start by feeding the milled silicone compound into the calendering machine. With its rollers properly arranged and having a consistent gap, the calendering machine immediately runs the compound through. 

You can heat or cool the compound, depending on what you’re trying to get. But, at the end of the day, remember the place of gap adjustment and precision control as you look to ensure that the material has consistency. 

In most cases, the silicone will go through the rollers in the calendering machine multiple times. This allows you to really press it down and achieve the right level of thickness you need for the film or sheet. With the proper control over pressure and temperature, you can significantly improve the chances of coming out with the desired product. 

With the proper setup, you will end up with a film or sheet made of silicone rubber which has the right surface characteristics. 

Cure, Vulcanize, and Process

Put the sheet or film in a curing oven to process it further. You add some heat to it, then vulcanize it to improve polymer chain crosslinking. The importance of this vulcanization process here is that it solidifies the final characteristics of the sheet or film – we’re talking strength, flexibility, and more. 

Finally, cool the sheet or film to keep its properties and drop its temperature. 

Remember To Check Your Output

Per usual, quality control comes first. So, inspect the silicone sheet or film as it steps through different phases of the calendering process. Ensure that the material meets your specifications, and that you’re not missing out on anything. 

Also, measure the characteristics of the final output and stack those up against what you were initially hoping to achieve. This will help ensure that you have a product that can hold up and stand the test of time. 

Package & Complete

Just like that, you’re good to go. Cut the silicone sheet or film based on your desired length and shape, and roll it with a winding machine. Package it properly, and you can send it out to the final users. 

The Main Applications of The Silicone Calendering Process

Wherever you see silicone, you pretty much see calendering. The process has managed to become an invaluable part of developing silicone sheets and rolls, and you can see it being used in some of the following capacities: 

  • Building Seals And Gaskets: For industrial purposes, we see silicone being used to make seals and gaskets.s but, for it to be effective here, it needs to go through the calendering process. This helps to expand on silicone’s flexibility and sealing properties significantly. 
  • Protecting Against Electricity: One of the major characteristics of silicone is that the material insulates rather well against electricity. With calendering, you can create rubber sheets that optimize insulation and work in different electrical capacities. 
  • Use In The Medical Space: Thanks to the use of calendering, silicone can help to create medical-grade sheets. These sheets are in turn used to make seals, medical devices, and other components that are biocompatible and safe. 
  • Improving Construction Materials: Since construction materials need to be strong and sturdy, calendered silicone can help to function as sheets that improve the efficiency of construction projects significantly. 
  • Industrial Transportation Materials: With calendered silicone, you can create belts and hoses that help to move materials from one point to the other in industrial settings. Remember that silicone is strong and will be able to withstand abrasion in many of these environments. 
  • A Myriad Of Safety Tools: Whether it’s enclosures, protective covers, or others, calendered silicone can help to produce several safety tools that help protect workers in different industrial environments. 
  • Sports Apparel & Materials: Be it wetsuits, footwear, gloves, and much more, calendered silicone is a component in several sporting materials. Its water resistance and strength play critical roles here. 
  • Food Processing Tools: Anything that’s to be used for food processing needs to be safe for both human contact and consumption. Food-grade silicone can come in handy here, working in food processing to ensure that you can create heat-resistant, non-toxic materials. And, calendering can help to optimize this function. 
  • Insulation for Cars: For a vehicle to be comfortable, many layers of insulation need to be added. These include insulation against vibrations and sounds, which help dampen the effect of external contact. Calendered silicone helps to create these insulation materials across the board. 
  • Connective Materials: Adhesives are used across many industries today. And, with calendered silicone, you can create tapes and films that optimize specific adhesive properties. Just as well, we see the material being used to act as release liners for adhesives.

What Are The Main Selling Points of Silicone Calendering

Today, it’s common to see many product manufacturers look into the prospects of silicone calendering. And, it’s understandable – when you take a good look into what this process offers, you’d get to understand why it has become so popular. Here are a few pointers as to what makes the entire calendering process so prominent: 

It Works Just About Everywhere

When it comes to silicone calendering, versatility is the name of the game. The process helps you to make silicone films and sheets that can serve different functionalities, all while having a broad set of characteristics as well. 

As we already pointed out, these sheets and films work in different industries across the board. 

One Uniform Thickness For All 

When done right, you’ll find out that your end product will be consistent in its thickness. Just as well, you will be able to ensure proper control over the spaces available between the rollers. 

All in all, the surface of the sheet or film will be as smooth and as uniform as possible.

Work As You Like 

Another underrated benefit of this process is that it allows you to pretty much customize the sheet or film that you’re using. As a manufacturer, you can make as many adjustments as you like to the processing parameters and formulations to make sure that the material meets your specific criteria.

Produce in Bulk As You Work

One important thing to note about the rubber calendar process is that it is continuous. As such, you can easily produce as many sheets or films as you like. When it comes to large-scale operations, silicone calendering is a solid process to work with. 

You Don’t Really Spend Much 

Now, for a quick icing on the cake, consider the fact that you’re not actually spending so much money on silicone calendering. Compared to several other manufacturing methods, the process barely costs so much. And, when you add in the fact that you get to produce materials in large quantities as well, it’s easy to see the allure here.

The Major Challenges In The Silicone Calendering Process

Now, there are undoubtedly a lot of benefits to be considered when you’re choosing silicone calendering – obviously, with the feature set we mentioned above, you have a lot to gain. 

That said, the process isn’t necessarily without its own challenges. And, as you go ahead to begin here, you might want to keep an eye on some of the following possible bottlenecks:

Initially, You’ll Spend A Lot

The cost of silicone calendering generally doesn’t run so high, but that’s in the long run. Initially, you will need to spend a bit of a pretty penny if you really want to implement this process. 

From the machines to the materials and others, you need to really be sure you’re ready to go along with this process financially.  

The Energy Intake Is High Too 

For you to successfully implement calendering, you need to expend a lot of power and energy. This is especially true if you’ll be using heating components to soften the silicone. 

Besides the fact that this whole thing raises energy costs, it also can add a bit of complexity to the process in general. 

A Lot Of Waste Materials 

The entire process of calendering can also generate quite a lot of waste material. In the first stages, where you have to prepare and mill the silicone compound, this is especially true. But, if you have a recycling or waste disposal method on hand, then you will be able to easily overcome this hurdle. 

Your Formulation Has To Be Top-Notch 

Remember that the quality of what you end up with will also depend on the formulation of the original silicone itself. So, if your formulations aren’t consistent, you might end up with some really unpalatable variations that will affect your work.

The Process Is Quite Sensitive 

We mentioned that you need to keep tabs on pressure and temperature every time. And, there’s a reason for that. Primarily,. The calendering process for silicone tends to be very sensitive to both parameters. So, once again, remember to always keep an eye on them. 

How Much Silicone Do You Have?

Yes, silicone is versatile. But, you also need to be careful since the material isn’t necessarily in abundant supply. Of course, with Legenday, you don’t have to worry about this problem. 

Is The Environment Safe? 

Silicone calendering is just like every other manufacturing process. Eventually, you need to make sure that the environment is catered to – especially in this day and age, when environmental concerns are top of mind for many manufacturers.

Get Your Operators Ready 

At the end of the day, the success of this process will depend significantly on the skill level of whoever is  in charge or is operating the calendering machine. To that end, you need to pay special attention to make sure that your personnel are properly trained and are able to work the machine so as to get the desired outcomes. 

From proper machine operation to safety precautions and more, you need to make sure that these guys know what to do and are ready to implement.  

Conclusion

Silicone calendering is a prominent process that has been used by a lot of manufacturers. And, when you look into what it offers and the benefits, you can really see why it’s so popular. 

If you’re looking to implement calendering into your process or would like to learn more about it, feel free to reach out to us at Legenday. We’ll be more than happy to hear you out! 

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