Silicone fluids are colorless and transparent liquids. These liquids exhibit high resistance to heat and cold. Silicone fluids are also moisture resistant. Over a wide temperature range, silicone fluids exhibit very low change in viscosity. Additionally silicone fluids are noted for various other characteristics like mold releasability, lubricity and defoaming properties. Silicone fluids can withstand low temperatures and maintain flow ability even at -65°C. Moreover, silicone fluids have few or no adverse effects on metals and other materials. Silicone fluids are almost completely inactive show no effects on alkali solutions at room temperatures. These fluids have considerably lower surface tension as compared to water and common synthetic oils. Silicone fluids have strong and more stable bonds; hence, they are more resistant to harsh environmental processing and operating conditions. These fluids are non-toxic and inert and also permeable to gas and water vapor.
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Silicone fluids have a wide range of industrial applications, which include power transmission, medical support cushions, lubricants; silicone aerosol sprays, damping fluids, additives for automotive polishes and dressings, heat transfer fluids, high temperature oil baths and water repellent treatment of textiles and powders. A few silicone fluids like simethicone are anti-foaming agents owing to their low surface tension. These fluids are primarily used in industrial applications such as distillation or fermentation in order to get rid of excess foam. Silicone fluids were also used in the automobile fan clutch assemblies before electric cooling fans replaced them. Silicone fluids also find medical applications wherein the fluid is added to the consumer product to control flatus. These fluids are also used as a substitute for vitreous fluids to treat difficult cases of retinal detachment such as proliferative vitroratinopathy, large retinal tears and penetrating ocular trauma.
The silicone market is expected to grow at healthy rate in the near future due to its widespread application base. These fluids are expected to be the leading type of silicone product in the market. Growth of the silicone fluids market is expected to be propelled further due to its extensive use in laboratories and numerous opportunities in the medical field. The demand is likely to further increase owing to the use of liquid silicone rubber in electronics and in machinery due to the ease in its manufacturing process, flexibility and its high ability to form precision parts. Owing to its use in high growth applications such as solar cells and light emitting diodes, a wide range of opportunities are available for the silicone gels market in the near future. Additionally silicone gels are also used as the basis for breast implant products and these fluids are anticipated to continually gain market share at the expense of their saline filled substitutes.
India and China are expected to be the fastest growing markets for silicone fluids in the future. Technological developments in the U.S. and continued innovation are expected to increase the demand for these fluids in the U.S. and in Europe. However, owing to the market maturity of silicone fluids in the North American and European regions, the opportunities for the fluid will be limited and instead the focus of the market growth is likely to shift to Asia Pacific and RoW.
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The main companies that manufacture silicone fluids include Dow Corning Corporation, Gelest Incorporated, Quantum Silicones, KCC Corporation, Clariant International limited, Caledonia Investments and Saint Gobain among other companies.