Silicone has fantastic qualities in terms of its resistance to heat and toxins. On the other hand, people have been using rubber hoses for hundreds of years and there must be a reason for this; in addition, rubber is a natural product. Which is the better material when it comes to hoses and tubing?
Applications that involve temperature extremes
Silicone has great heat resistance. It can resist the sun’s UV rays and temperatures below freezing, which is why it is very commonly used for vehicle parts such as radiators and water coolant systems. Rubber also performs well for cooling and can be a cheaper option, particularly for manufacturers working on a large scale.
While silicone is good at resisting corrosion from chemicals and other fluids, so is rubber. The honours are equal so far.
With more and more people worldwide eating prepared foods, such as ready meals and convenience snacks, the food preparation industry is in a period of strong growth. Silicone has proved its worth, as it can come into direct contact with food and drink without making them taste peculiar; in addition, it has low levels of contamination.
It is also popular with home cooks – witness the upsurge in silicone baking trays and cooking equipment. Scientific American magazine commented on an early Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) report that concluded there was no risk to people from food prepared with silicone cooking equipment.
In applications such as vending machines, where you have a short length of hose delivering a hot drink, silicone is a better option than rubber.
Specialist engineering applications
Where a hose needs to be very flexible, perhaps to fit around other parts of an installation, silicone has the edge. It is flexible at all temperatures and products such as superflex hoses that contain meta-aramid can be used as a cost-effective solution for applications that would otherwise require custom-built hosing and connectors. Specialist silicone hose manufacturers, such as https://www.goodflexrubber.com/pages/silicone-hose-manufacture, have an amazing array of different types of hoses, tubes, connectors and rollers, making it possible to design a custom system quite easily.
Rubber will continue to be popular for products such as garden hoses; however, in manufacturing, we are seeing just the beginning of what will be an upsurge in the use of silicone.