Liquid Silicone: Why Does Apple Use It for iPhone Case
By Carrie Tsai, Last Updated: July 17, 2020INDUSTRY
If you're an Apple gadget lover or a phone case fancier, you can easily find that iPhone's official protective case is made of liquid silicone. In fact, it isn't the first time that Apple has made full use of new and innovative materials for the iPhone itself as well as the iPhone accessories.
You can see flexible glass material being used by Apple on iPhone screen for the 3D touch technology. You can see titanium alloy material being employed to make the frame of iPhone 11 Pro Max. You can see thermoplastic material being utilized on the iPhone for improving waterproof performance. You can see......
Anyway, get back to the original point - official iPhone case which is made of liquid silicone. Today, the protective phone cases for the iPhone series are produced by a great number of third-party manufacturers. They are made of scores of various materials like plastic and wood. However, when it comes to Apple's official iPhone case, it's made of a special material dubbed liquid silicone.
But what is liquid silicone? What advantages make it the choice of manufacturing material for the official iPhone case? What are the advantages of the iPhone liquid silicone case? Well, don't be fretful if you still know about nothing. Keep reading to easily find out all the answers.
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What Is Liquid Silicone
Liquid silicone, also called liquid silicone rubber, is a broadly-used silicon polymer which is composed of silicon, carbon, hydrogen as well as oxygen at the elemental level. At the molecular level, this silicon polymer comprises a silica and oxygen backbone, different from the vast majority of polymers which are made of carbon backbone. Liquid silicone rubber, if more specifically categorized, can be regarded as an elastomer.
When it comes to how this material was found out and used, in fact, it's developed from the solid silicone. Solid silicone-based elastomer was first used in the 1940s by chemists due to its heat-resistant characteristic. Then it takes the dominant position for electric motors and generators insulation as the electrical insulator.
Gradually, with the advance of separating technology, the silicone rubber is separated into a two-part platinum-cured elastomer which is what is called the liquid silicone. Unlike solid silicone which is solid, the liquid silicone is in liquid state and has high fluidity, making it the perfect material choice for injection molding.
Uses and Applications
Liquid silicone has proven to be a highly-valuable material versatile for a variety of industries and applications such as medical devices, household items, food contact and kitchen items, high-precision industrial components, apparels as well as cosmetic products. Due to its gel-like property, it's most frequently used to make molds for rubber, resin, foam and metals for scores of a variety of industrial products.
What Are the Properties of Liquid Silicone
The reason why liquid silicone is highly valuable and versatile in a wide variety of industries rests in its special favorable properties. It's these properties that make it more reliable across a whole spectrum of parts in numerous industries and applications than other materials.
Stable in Extreme Environments
Part of the reason why liquid silicone is highly valuable in numerous industries lies in its stability in extreme environments such as heat, fire and cold. Completely cured liquid silicone has a general operating temperature of -100 °C to 300 °C, making it tolerant for heat, fire and cold within this temperature range.
That being said, even when exposed to extreme conditions, liquid silicone can still keep its original shape and retain other physical properties. This property makes the liquid silicone the material of option for industries and applications which require the manufacturing material to be stable even in extreme environments.
Chemically Resistant and Inert
Another property of the liquid silicone which makes it the favorable material of choice for various applications over other manufacturing materials is its chemical resistance. Liquid silicone made of silicon-based backbone is an inert chemical material, which makes it hypoallergenic and not react with other chemicals.
This makes it the primary material of choice for applications that require to be exposed to oils, solvents, acids and bases. Besides, the chemical resistance also means that liquid silicone is bio-compatible and non-toxic, making it safe for items that need to keep contact with food and medical devices.
You can see it being used for kitchen items like baking pans, cupcake liners, rubber spatulas and more. You can see it being utilized in products for baby care like baby bottle nipples. In the medical industry, you can see it being notably used in the manufacture of prostheses.
Translucent and Clear Appearance
In terms of base form, liquid silicone is translucent and glossy. This characteristic makes it an excellent choice for applications that require the products to have clear and glossy outer design. Also, along with the application of pigment, liquid silicone is versatile in light of color. This property is most outstanding for prostheses which require real skin tones simulation.
Fast Curing Process
Nowadays, it's no longer enough for a material to be strong, stable, flexible or chemically-resistant. It also needs to be manufactured very fast so as to meet the needs of automated and large-scale production. Well, liquid silicone is a material which lends itself well to ultra-fast manufacturing processes.
This is due to its fast curing cycle. While combining of its components, the uncured liquid silicone polymer can be quickly injection molded. This property, along with the property of being flexible, brings the liquid silicone much commercial value in a wide range of industries and commercial settings since it allows for fast-paced manufacturing along with large-batch processing as well as full automation.
A Natural Electrical Insulator
Liquid silicone is also a natural electrical insulator, which allows itself to insulate wires, data cables as well as other electrical parts. The dielectric property makes it an ideal material choice for electrical applications especially consumer electronics.
Due to the chemical structure of including hydrophobic, water-fearing and methyl groups, liquid silicone is also water resistant. This characteristic makes it an excellent option for products that are electrical or are linked with electricity.
In short, liquid silicone is a special material which ticks all the boxes of the properties that a powerful material should own. Due to the properties of flexibility, stability, translucency, thermal conductivity, non-conductive electricity as well as fast-curing capacity, liquid silicone is a valuable material versatile for various industries and applications.
Why Does Apple Use Liquid Silicone for Making iPhone Case
Everything about liquid silicone as well as its special properties and advantages has been clear. Now keep these properties in mind to explore why Apple uses liquid silicone as the material for the official iPhone case. In other words, it's to explore what the advantages of iPhone case made of liquid silicone are.
Low Manufacturing Cost
As mentioned earlier, liquid silicone lends itself well to the very fast curing processes, leading to ultra-fast manufacturing with large-scale and automated processes. Also, the manufacturing process is very simple and easy. Hence, by using this material, iPhone case can be manufactured very fast with automated equipment in large scale production. This makes the manufacturing cost very low, causing the price of the iPhone case comparatively low and the sales of the case considerable.
Soft Hand Feel & Comfortable Grip
As the above information indicates, liquid silicone has a translucent and clear appearance. So by using this material, the iPhone case can lend you a soft and smooth hand feel. The gloss of the surface also makes the iPhone case safe from scratches and finger print. Furthermore, using liquid silicone which is in light weight for the iPhone case guarantees comfortable and firm grip of the iPhone.
Shock & Drop Protection
Part of the reason why Apple uses liquid silicone as the main material for the iPhone protective case lies in the flexibility of the liquid silicone. As mentioned earlier, liquid silicone is made of a silica and oxygen backbone called polysiloxane chain. This chain creates longer bonds, leading to much flexible polymer.
Therefore, by using liquid silicone as the main material for the iPhone case, the case can be more flexible and tenacious, bringing the phone great protection against sudden dropping, bumping and shocking.
Water & Moisture Resistant
The water resistant characteristic is what also makes Apple choose liquid silicone as the material for making the iPhone case. Smartphones or other mobile devices are what we always carry at hand whenever and wherever we are. When being around the water surroundings, we always want our phone which we carry at hand to be water-resistant. By employing waterproof liquid silicone, the iPhone case can protect the iPhone from water and moisture.
Anti-Grease & Anti-Corrosion
As mentioned earlier, liquid silicone is chemically resistant since it's an inert chemical material. Therefore, being made of the liquid silicone, the iPhone case can safe from oils, solvents, acids and bases, making it durable to protect the phone.
Liquid silicone is a natural electrical insulator. This dielectric property allows the iPhone case made of liquid silicone to insulate wires, data cables as well as sockets nearby, which can give users safe iPhone using experience.
Safe and Durable from Over-Heating or Other Extreme Temperatures
As is discussed earlier, liquid silicone is stable even in extreme temperatures. Within the temperature range of -100 °C to 300 °C, the material can still keep its original shape and are powered with other physical properties. This property, on the one hand, makes the iPhone case protect itself as well as the phone from over-heating and burning. On the other hand, it allows for more durable iPhone case.
Liquid silicone, one kind of silicon polymer, is a highly valuable material versatile for making a wide spectrum of products in various industries and applications due to its flexibility, stability, translucency, thermal conductivity, non-conductive electricity as well as fast-curing capacity. Because of these favorable properties, Apple uses the liquid silicone as the material for making the official iPhone case, which makes the iPhone case powerful, useful and attractive.