Silicone lubricating compounds are designed to provide friction reduction in particular applications and environments. They reduce friction as all lubricants do - by filling in gaps and creating a more uniform surface at a microscopic level. However, silicone lubricants don't provide the best lubrication for dynamic systems (where two surfaces are sliding past each other) so they are mostly used for specific, usually static, systems like o-rings, electrical connections and mold-release.
What are Silicone Compounds?
Silicone compounds are made of silicone fluid, also known as polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) and silica filler. These can be combined with thickeners or additives to suit particular applications. Compounds can have varying viscosities, but generally appear as a grease-like white paste. They are compatible with a number of surfaces like metal and plastic, and can be used as a sealant as well as a lubricant even under vacuum.
Silicone lubricating compounds have unique properties that make them perfectly suited to their applications. Silicone compounds are extremely heat resistant and many can retain their properties in temperatures up to 200C or 230C. Some formulations are approved for use down to -50C as well. Aside from their wide temperature range, silicone compounds are highly dielectric - resisting the flow of electricity even under high-current. Finally, these compounds offer excellent resistance to a number of chemicals including water and oils.
How are they used?
Silicone compounds are used in a number of specific applications.
Silicone's unique properties make it useful for a number of other applications. Silicone lubricants are used as a sealant for ground glass connections in laboratory equipment. Special formulations can also be filled with thermally conductive materials for use in heat-sink applications. Silicone compounds are generally nontoxic and many are certified under NSF 51 for food equipment materials and NSF 61 for drinking water system components