What do a solar panel and pacemaker have in common?

From solar panels to medical devices to sports safety equipment to personal care products, silicones are used in thousands of products. This family of high performance materials is crucial to countless industries, including medicine, construction, transportation, fashion, and sports.

A recent socio-economic report released by the Global Silicones Council underscores just how important silicones are to the global economy as well as to the well-being of people in a modern society.  Silicones manufacturing is an $11 billion global industry, with 2,122,000 metric tons of formulated silicone products sold every year.

So where is all this silicone being used? Among the most popular uses:

  • Construction materials–$430 million in silicone product sales
    Silicone sealants, adhesives and coatings make construction materials work better, last longer, and improve energy efficiency.
  • Specialty consumer and personal care products–$416 million in silicone product sales
    Silicones are used in a wide range of products including deodorants, shampoos, sunscreen, and makeup. In laundry detergents, silicones help reduce water and energy use.
  • Transportation–$240 million in silicone product sales
    Silicones are used extensively in automotive manufacturing and in components (such as airbags) for cars and other vehicles. Their use contributes to increased strength, durability, reliability and safety.
  • Electronics—$116 million in silicone product sales
    Silicones have enabled electronics to become smaller alongside greater functionality. They also enable greater reliability and performance of LEDs, contributing to energy efficiency improvements.
  • Healthcare—$123 million in silicone product sales
    Silicones are used in a broad range of medical devices and specialized medical equipment. Silicone-dependent applications include adhesive bandages, syringes, wheel chairs, hearing aids, pacemakers, intelligent contact lenses and artificial limbs.
  • Energy—$52.5 million in silicone product sales
    Silicon is used in approximately 90 percent of solar panels and silicones have facilitated larger wind turbines with greater energy potential. A modest quantity of silicone is sufficient to obtain a large increase in the efficiency of processes, energy consumption and use of materials.

With such a variety of applications, silicones are a key part of the global economy. In North America alone, silicones manufacturing operations directly employ 10,000 individuals and another 2.3 million individuals throughout the supply chain. To learn more about the socio-economic benefits of silicones, view the Global Silicones Council’s full report here.  To learn more about the many uses of silicones, visit siliconesinfo.org.

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