Silicone rubber is a highly versatile manufacturing material found in a wide range of products, but its uses are not confined to the industrial realm. Silicone rubber goods are common in recreational merchandise, and recent years have shown an increase in decorative rubber-based accessories. In particular, wristbands and bracelets have risen in popularity, providing a significant revenue stream for rubber jewelry manufacturers and numerous silicone companies that have expanded into the consumer goods market.
Part of the appeal of rubber wristbands, or gel bands, is their ease of customization. A relatively simple and efficient molding process can produce very large quantities of these bracelets, and many companies allow customers to order individualized messages, colors, and sizes to reflect personal needs. The potential for design modifications and an efficient cost-to-price ratio combine to create a burgeoning niche market for silicone rubber wristbands.
The Production Process
Although many bracelets are still produced with other synthetic rubber materials, the majority of todays decorative wristbands are made specifically from silicone. Silicone is a bonded polymer substance with numerous elastomeric qualities that make it both flexible and water resistant. Originally created as an insulating material, silicone is also fairly heat resistant, but is usually susceptible to deterioration from UV exposure.
Silicone rubber stock is typically extruded into strips or tubes of varying thickness, which are then compression molded into the familiar round cross-section of a bracelet. Color dyeing is usually a pre-molding process, but most companies have a range of different colors to choose from. The silicone bands display high levels of elasticity, allowing them to stretch over most wrists. As a result, the majority of these decorative wristbands are produced with a circumference between 7 and 8.5 inches. The width is usually half an inch, while thickness is approximately a tenth of an inch.
Custom Text and Colors
Much of the rubber wristbands popularity stems from its capacity to display messages. Wristband text can either be customized to fit an individual users demand or selected from an array of common predetermined phrases. These messages are available in a variety of styles, including:
Debossed: This is the most frequently purchased lettering format. Debossed words are recessed into the silicone via an imprint mold.
Embossed: This style uses raised letters that protrude about 2 millimeters from the bands surface. It employs a molding process similar to that of debossing.
Colored Debossed: Wristbands with debossed text can have colored recessions, making the lettering more visible.
Screen Printed: Silk-screen printed bracelets have text applied directly to the silicones surface. The color of the text is different from that of the band and can be printed on both the inside and outside of the bracelet.
Further customization options include color selection and pattern design. Although the dyeing process is applied to pre-molded silicone stock, most manufacturers provide a wide range of different color choices. These include single-color bands, multi-colored segmented bands, and marbleized or swirled bands that combine several colors in an intertwined pattern.
Aside from their pervasive appeal as fashion accessories, silicone wristbands have several other uses. Perhaps their most well-known application is in fundraising for charitable causes. Rubber bracelets can be used to represent campaigns against terminal diseases, in support of victims of natural disasters (e.g. Tsunami Relief Wristbands), to show solidarity with sports teams or community groups, as well as myriad other concepts. Most silicone wristband manufacturers offer discounts for bulk purchases, and many organizations take advantage of these bargains to buy wholesale stock and resell the bracelets in support of their cause.
In addition to fundraising, silicone wristbands can also be used for marketing and brand-awareness strategies. Many companies distribute promotional giveaway items printed with their organizations logo in order to raise consumer recognition and, ultimately, boost sales. Using this strategy with customized silicone wristbands can be a more cost-effective solution than traditional giveaway products, such as mugs and calendars. By harnessing the widely popular silicone bracelet trend, companies can employ a relatively inexpensive yet effective strategy to build advertising and consumer awareness.