Geniomer® is the name of a new generation of thermoplastic silicone elastomers from the Wacker Group. These novel hybrid materials offer a property profile previously unseen in either thermoplastics or silicones. Applications range from process aids for the plastics industry to innovative uses in medical technology.
In chemical terms, Geniomer® is a polydimethylsiloxane/urea copolymer that combines the typical properties of silicones with the advantages of a thermoplastic, i.e. a thermally mouldable polymer. Its novel property profile stems from a symbiosis of inorganic and organic components. A silicone forms the basis of its soft segment, which is responsible for the product’s excellent elasticity. An organic group builds the corresponding hard segment, which offers strength and heat stability.
Wacker Silicones has developed a proprietary process to cure the soft segment. The curing process is physical instead of catalyst-based. A key advantage is the resultant high purity and absence of by-products.
Thermoplastic silicone elastomers represent a quantum leap for the materials industry. They offer a property profile previously unseen in either a silicone or a thermoplastic. Geniomer® grades display good thermoplastic processability, are easy to paint over and have excellent release and slip properties, plus outstanding low-temperature flexibility, good storage stability, excellent water repellency and high tensile strength without needing fillers. Another advantage is that the material is completely transparent.
Working closely with customers, Wacker Silicones is currently running a project to open up new markets and application fields for thermoplastic silicone elastomers. Potential applications are wide-ranging, whether as process aids for plastics like polypropylene, as texturing polymers or as other materials.
The medical sector offers a good example of a Geniomer® application. With its high chemical purity, Geniomer® is ideal for medical tubing, since it does not contain any organic volatiles (such as plasticisers). The automotive sector also offers innovative applications. For example, Geniomer® -based soundproofing sheets for windscreens and windows could revolutionise comfort levels. This application is already under test.