Although somewhat overlooked by the automotive industry, silicone coatings can in fact be used on the interior upholstery of cars such as on seat and door fabrics. Silicone can be sprayed or coated on dry fabric, or soaked into fabric. It can also be calendered and applied to material in very thin sheets. Here at Elkem Silicones we sell to chemists, they use our products to create formulas and in turn sell them to other providers. So we are positioned two rungs higher on the manufacturing scale. Therefore, we can adapt our products to individual needs.
Automotive textiles, for one, can benefit from the wide range of properties silicone offers.
First off, silicones can offer durable water-repellency properties and so it is used to treat fabrics to protect them from water. When water comes into contact with a silicone treated fabric, instead of penetrating, the water beads up and then slides right off.
Silicone also softens fabrics thanks to its lubricant properties. When applied to real leather during the fat liquoring process, silicone improves the malleability and feel of the leather, making it pleasant to the touch. It can also be used to improve the feel of artificial leather made from polyurethane. In fact, specialty artificial leathers can also be made of silicone rubbers to create a much warmer feel, keeping the textile very flexible, possibly stretchable, and less likely to degrade over time (blistering). Using silicone artificial leather to manufacture dashboard or door panels, or even seats, for cars is starting, giving a more durable look as much more resistant to aging, to temperature variations and to UV exposure.
Moreover, silicone ensures thread quality and prevents fabrics from pilling as it has abrasion-resistant properties. With repeated use and friction, seat fabrics become worn out. Applying a layer of silicone to the fabric will prevent this from happening and the seats of a car will last much longer. Silicone can also be used during fabric manufacturing to strengthen items such as airbags, narrow web, sheaths for hoses and glass braid insulation in engines. Fabric soaked in silicone has added strength and durability and allows items to better resist mechanical forces.
Lastly, silicone can offer a great finish. It preserves color by preventing fabric and leather from yellowing. Silicone is already widely used in the leather making industry; however, it still has not reached its full potential in the world of automotive fabrics.
Photo credits: Fotolia / alexdemeshko