Defense Spending and Silicone Opportunities
Defense spending is increasing, but where are the opportunities for your business? During the last three months of 2022, U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) outlays on research and development rose by 11%. For FY23, there’s a 13% increase in funding for Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E), a major part of the DoD budget that covers new and improved warfighting capabilities. To put these percentages in perspective, they’re greater than the 10% increase in FY 2023 defense spending overall.
There are many types of RDT&E projects, but military grade silicones are needed for gaskets that provide EMI/RFI shielding, or that resist fuels, fire, chemicals, salt spray, outgassing, or high and low temperatures. From terrestrial radios to aircraft fuel doors, and from naval ships to satellite communications, military grade silicones are used across the U.S. military’s warfighting domains. To meet DoD requirements, however, these elastomers need to comply with rigorous standards.
Military Silicones for DoD Projects
Specialty Silicone Products (SSP) of Ballston Spa, New York (USA) supplies EMI/RFI silicones and military and aerospace silicones that meet demanding specifications. For example, many of our EMI/RFI silicones meet the DoD’s MIL-DTL-83528 standard for electrically-conductive elastomeric gaskets. When you visit the EMI/RFI Silicones page on the SSP website, you’ll find third-party shielding reports along with technical data sheets and other documentation, such as qualified product listings (QPLs) from the DoD.
SSP also supplies military grade fluorosilicones that meet the requirements of MIL-DTL-25988, a military specification that covers oil- and fuel-resistant elastomers for aeronautical and aerospace applications. Importantly, SSP supplies these and other military elastomers in low minimum order quantities (MOQs) and with shorter lead times than you might expect. That’s important for RDT&E and other defense-related projects that require prototypes, iterations, and low-volume initial quantities.
More Specification Grade Silicones
SSP also makes other types of specification grade silicones that may be required for some military projects. For example, SSP offers a MIL-DTL-83528 EMI shielding silicone that also passes the ASTM B117 salt spray test for galvanic corrosion, a problem in marine environments. This material, SSP2529, can also be used in satellite applications that require proven compliance with ASTM E 595, an outgassing standard that originated with NASA and applies to the low-vacuum environment of space.
Military and aerospace elastomers from SSP also include AA 59588 silicones that meet SAE’s Aerospace Material Requirements (AMS). Several of these materials pass the DeMattia Flex Resistance Test, a dynamic test that measures crack growth in inches over thousands of flexural cycles. Flex-fatigue resistance can be an important requirement for military aviation, and high temperatures, harsh environments, and excessive cycling can all contribute to elastomeric fatigue.
Silicone Specifications and the Importance of Compliance
Military and aerospace silicones aren’t commodity elastomers; however, too many compounders now treat them like they are. That’s a risk for die cutters, molders, extruders, and gasket fabricators who assume a level of compliance that may no longer exist. If a compounder changes a formula to use lower-cost ingredients, how will you know if you’re getting a true specification grade silicone?
Specialty Silicone Products isn’t known as the leader in low-cost silicones, but you can be sure about what you’re getting when you buy from us. For each batch of product, we can supply you with a Certificate of Analysis (COA) that reports the specific test results for that batch. We can also provide you with a Certificate of Conformance (COC) if you need it, and SSP has a full on-site test lab here at our ISO 9001:2015 certified facility.