Silicones are a family of specialty, high-performance materials, all of which are widely used in thousands of products and provide essential benefits to key segments of our economy.
Silicones are polymers and chemicals. They are resistant to high and low temperatures, and are used in thousands of products, including applications in health care, transportation (e.g., aerospace and automotive), textiles, electronics, and construction.
Silicone chemicals are used to make polymers and are used in special industrial applications and personal care products.
Silicones are flexible and resist moisture, chemicals, heat, cold, and ultraviolet radiation. Products are made with silicones to take on these and other important properties, which can make them more stable, more aesthetically pleasing, easier to use or apply, or longer lasting.
Silicones may be supplied directly to producers of final products, but more often they pass through several stages of what is known as the ‘value chain.’
This means that their routes to end markets may be complex, involving several interdependent stages. Firms in each successive level progressively add value by transforming or modifying basic materials that eventually become products for final sale.
Silicones manufacturing and research and development is a major source of employment in the United States. Throughout the Americas, the silicone industry directly employs 10,000 people representing some $700 million in gross salaries. It is estimated that up to 2.3 million people may be employed in economic activities related to silicone products, whether formulating, distributing, integrating silicones into larger components, or selling products containing silicones across the US and the Americas.
The United States alone uses more than 412,000 tons of silicones across various industry sectors each year. Because of their role as components, silicones fuel economic growth in two ways:
- through the jobs created in the silicones industry, and
- through the boost they give to industries that rely on silicone components