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Jun 05

Process Oil in Gel Manufacturing: Key Characteristics for Quality Gel Products

In gel manufacturing, no raw material is more important than process oil. Polymers have their role to play. But oil is the definitive ingredient behind quality gel production.

Your choice of process oil will determine:

  • Performance characteristics
  • Color stability
  • Safety in production
  • Other key characteristics that vary by product

Below, we consider three product category examples to demonstrate the vital importance of process oil in a variety of gel applications.

1. Prosthetics

Paraffinic process oils are used in the production of prosthetic products to improve their flexibility and resistance to tearing, ensuring a comfortable and secure fit.

Liners and Sleeves

In prosthetic limbs, it’s vital that contact points between the amputee’s residual limbs and the prosthetic socket are as comfortable as possible. Liners and sleeves are made with delicate, gentle materials ideal for prolonged contact with skin. Prosthetic gels made from thermoplastic elastomer (TPEs) and TPE medical grade white process oil help to evenly distribute pressure on the socket.

Theatrical Prosthetics

Properly-formulated silicone gels are ideal for imitating human tissues in theatrical prosthetics, such as altering an actor’s physical features or simulating dramatic injuries. The process oil content in this type of prosthetic makes a difference in comfort and the actor’s ability to work with them over longer periods of time.

The proper process oils for prosthetic gels must have the following characteristics: 

  • Very low volatility for long-term viability and to prevent air contamination in production
  • Water-white in color to ensure consumer confidence
  • High color stability to avoid discoloration (yellowing) due to oxidation

2. Shoes and Orthopedics

Footwear is one of the most common product applications for gel manufacturers, as gels offer the cushioning and support that athletes, workers, and other consumers need while on their feet.

Shock Absorbers

Runners rely on the advanced cushioning technology of high-end shoe gels to improve performance and protect the body from repetitive impact injuries. Process oil content creates suppleness in gels that absorbs the shock and maintains it over the life of the shoe.

Orthotic Insoles

Podiatrists routinely prescribe orthotic insoles to treat conditions such as Plantar fasciitis, flat feet, and other types of foot pain. Process oil content allows manufacturers to pinpoint the degree of flexibility needed for patients.

Ideal characteristics for footwear gels include:

  • Water-white, allowing any color gel to be produced
  • Highly UV-stable, so the color does not yellow due to oxidation
  • Low volatility to ensure support throughout the product life (and safety in production)

3. Telecom Connections and Cables

Gels manufactured for the telecommunications industry must meet strict requirements that cannot be achieved with an inadequate process oil.

Gel Connectors

Telecom enclosures alone can’t sufficiently protect wiring from static-causing interference. Gels create the seal around connectors that protect signal quality. Process oils help create the pliability these reusable seals need to make secure connections.

Fiber Optics

The essential characteristic of fiber optic cabling is the transparency of components, such as optical gel coatings, to permit the transmission of light. While process oil aids in the production of these gels, only the highest-clarity oils will allow the desired degree of light transmissibility.

Process oils used in telecom gel applications must be:

  • Very low volatility for long-term signal quality
  • Extremely pure and water-white (particularly for fiber optics)
  • Resistant to UV light to prevent color degradation

Signal Fluid Solutions: Process Oils for Gel Manufacturing

Our Gel Group is always hard at work supplying the above industries and many others with highly pure, specialty process oils specifically formulated for each unique gel application.

These premium paraffinic process oils offer characteristics desirable in gel production, particularly:

  • Lower volatility for any given viscosity than other process oils for a safe, cost-effective production process
  • Water-white clarity with excellent color stability to support the production of any color gel product

Reach out to our gels experts today to request a consultation. Discover how Signal Fluid Solutions can help you improve gel product quality through higher-quality process oils.

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