Silicone seems to be more expensive than other rubbers, why is this?
Silicon is the second most abundant element in the Earth’s crust (about 28% by mass) so if it is so abundant we ask the question – why is it so expensive? Here we try to explain why silicone rubber is classed as a more premium rubber compared to more conventional rubbers on the market.
There are many factors dictating the cost of any particular product, supply and demand, rarity, desirability. Cost is determined by availability, degree of difficulty in harvesting it, the kind and amount of processing required, the versatility of the product and market prices
Essentially silicone costs more due to the high energy costs associated with its manufacture (conversion of sand to high purity silica, then further refinement of silica before the chemical reactions that polymerise it), there are also a number of expensive components needed during the manufacture of silicone (copper metal, hydrogen fluoride). Also, silicone only makes up a small part of the global chemical industry – there is a significant economy of scale in the petrochemical industry at raw material production that silicone just doesn’t/can’t match.
In the end though, silicone is a product that is noted and universally accepted as being the best in class elastomer for extreme temperature environments which offers a unique combination of performance that justifies its cost in comparison to other elastomeric materials.