A Brief History of Silicone Rubber

The mid-1900s Silicone rubbers were first developed in the mid-1900s by chemical companies like Dow Corning and G eneral E lectric. They were discovered as an outgrowth of early silicone research conducted in the first half of the 20th century.6

The 1940s The first silicone rubbers were introduced in the 1940s.

During World War II, silicones were critical for applications like insulation, seals, and cushions in aircraft and submarines. This spurred an early interest in silicone materials and investment in new formulations.

The 1950s- In the 1950s, improvements were made to simplify processing silicones with better physical properties for consumer applications. Room-temperature vulcanized (RTV) silicones were introduced, eliminating the need for high temperatures during production. The 1960s and 1970s The 1960s and 1970s saw rapid growth and product diversification of the silicone market. Liquid injection molding and extrusion methods were developed to produce complex parts for automotive and electrical uses. Medical-grade silicones enabled major healthcare innovations like implantable devices.

The 1980s Global expansion accelerated in the 1980s, especially in Asia and Latin America. Silicone rubber became widely used worldwide for automotive parts, cookware products, adhesives, sealants, and gaskets.

T he 1990s and 2000s In the 1990s and 2000s, liquid silicone and high-consistency rubber materials were introduced for specialized applications like electronics, medical devices, and high-performance seals. However, rising environmental concerns also led to more silicone manufacturing and compound regulations.

Today, silicone rubber enables emerging technologies like alternative energy, electric vehicles, and advanced materials. While silicones have been criticized on sustainability grounds, the industry responds with “greener chemistries and improved recycling capabilities.