Skip Navigation

Rubber Options: Is Silicone Conductive?

Posted by Joe Hoffman
Rubber Options: Is Silicone Conductive?

Typically speaking, rubber and electricity doesn’t mix. Like most nonmetals, rubber is more of a natural electrical insulator than something that will transmit any electrical currents. Those properties include synthetic rubbers like silicone – but does that always have to be the case?

The beauty of synthetic rubbers like silicone is that there’s a lot of ways to manufacture these materials. It’s time to break down whether silicone rubber can conduct electricity and how it can benefit your applications.

Does Silicone Conduct Electricity?

In general, silicone rubber is known for electrical resistivity than as a conductive material. Standard formulations of silicone are known for excellent electrical insulation, to the point where there’s no decline in insulation performance even when silicone is immersed in water. As such, a lot of the silicone parts or materials you’ll find will not have any conductive properties.

Of course, that natural resistance doesn’t mean that silicone can’t conduct electricity. Like other synthetic materials, there are a variety of ways that you can formulate these compounds. By adding certain fillers or additives, rubbers can be made to have more ideal performance capabilities and characteristics for your applications. Those possibilities include making silicone electrically conductive.

How to Make Conductive Silicone

The way to formulate electrically conductive silicone rubber is to combine it with filler materials that are good enough conductors to overcome silicone’s natural insulative properties. Fortunately, there are a couple of additives that make this possible

Both carbon black additives and some form of silver or metal-based nanoparticles can increase silicone's electrical conductivity. These additives offer extremely high electrical conductivity, along with the thermal conductivity and stability required to handle the high temperatures.

The problem with the nanoparticles is that they can’t be used for extruded silicone parts. They’re also an extremely expensive option for conductive silicone. Carbon black additives offers both the mechanical properties and conductive performance to help address both of those issues. Silicone made with carbon black additives can not only be extruded, but also offers the following benefits:

  • High electrical conductivity (around 2 Ohm/cm resistance)
  • Excellent temperature stability
  • Flame retardant options
  • Varying hardnesses and densities

Part Options for Conductive Silicone

There are a variety of industries that can make use of conductive silicone, such as the electronics, medical, and military markets. Simply put, if your application needs a quality rubber part that can handle high temperatures and conduct electricity, there’s a good chance this material is right for you. Potential conductive silicone parts include:

  • Conductive gasketing
  • Low-end shielding
  • ESD protection
  • Military-grade elastomers
  • Ventilation panels
  • Conductive sheets
  • Gap fillers

Whether you need a conductive rubber part or some other option, it’s important to invest in the right solution for your application. The problem is it isn’t necessarily easy to figure out which solution gives you the most value for your money. That’s where Timco can help. We work closely with businesses to identify and supply the best, most cost-effective rubber and plastic parts based o your exact requirements.

Ready to invest in the perfect plastic or rubber parts for your business? It all starts with a conversation with one of our experts. Give us a call at 800-969-6242 or contact us online to talk to one of our experts about the parts you need.