Moon Cakes and Trade Missions to China

Moon Cakes Autumn Festival

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Andrew Yang
Sales Representative for Elasto Proxy

China’s Mid-Autumn Festival celebrates the harvest and reunites families and friends under a bright, silvery moon. In ancient times, members of the country’s various ethnic groups worshipped this fullest moon of the year and held nighttime ceremonies to greet the coming winter. Today, people break from their busy routines to give thanks and remember those who are far from home. While gazing at the mid-autumn moonlight, we wish the very best to those who cannot be with us.

Dynasties and Traditions

Like our Chinese New Year celebration, the Mid-Autumn Festival is rich in tradition and rooted in China’s dynastic past. Beginning with the ancient Xia and Shang Dynasties (2000 B.C. to 1066 B.C) and through the Zhou Dynasty (1066 B.C. to 221 B.C.), China’s altar was the nighttime sky. Observance of the Moon Festival grew during the Tang Dynasty (618 to 907 A.D.) and blossomed during both the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644 A.D.) and the Qing Dynasty (1644 to 1911 A.D.).

During the time of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127 to 1279 A.D.), the Mid-Autumn Festival added a culinary custom that continues today.  To express their fondest wishes for a joyous family reunion, celebrants began sending moon-shaped cakes to each another.  Measuring three inches in diameter and a half-inch thick, these sweet treats resemble Western fruitcakes in taste and consistency.  Ingredients typically include melon seeds, lotus seeds, almonds, minced meats, bean paste, orange peels, eggs, and lard.

Family and Country

According to legend, these delicious pastries also served a national purpose. During the Yuan Dynasty (1280 to 1368 A.D.), China rebelled against Mongolian rule. To avoid detection and share battle plans, rebel leaders sent messages hidden in cakes as the Mid-Autumn Festival drew near. Under the light of the year’s brightest moon, the rebels then executed their plan of attack and overthrew the invaders. Today, moon cakes are eaten to commemorate this victory and to honor family members.

Modern moon cakes come in various shapes and sizes, but traditional pastries usually include a salted duck egg at the center of the cake. Each pastry’s golden-brown crust is decorated with symbols of the Mid-Autumn Festival, and 13 pastries are piled in a pyramid to represent the 13 moons of the Chinese year. With so many delicious cakes to enjoy and share, the Moon Festival is a time for celebration that falls on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese lunar calendar.

From Cakes to Conferences

As many readers know, autumn is also an important time for tradeshows and business meetings. This year’s Mid-Autumn Festival ended on September 19, but October also promises to be an exciting month.

As Elasto Proxy’s sales representative in China, I look forward to traveling to Shanghai and Jinan as part of a trade delegation on October 14. Along with the Chinese government and Export Quebec, I’ll be meeting with forward-thinking companies, attending various seminars, and sharing how Elasto Proxy provides high-quality sealing solutions to a variety of industries.

On behalf of Elasto Proxy, I hope that all who celebrated the recent Mid-Autumn Festival enjoyed their time with family and friends, and will enjoy luck and prosperity in the year to come. To learn more about how Elasto Proxy meets sealing challenges (or just to discuss moon cakes!), please feel free to email me at

Defense and Aerospace Opportunities for Canadian SMEs


Doug Sharpe
President of Elasto Proxy

Does your company do business with Canada’s aerospace and defense industries? Then you’ll want to read the latest news about how the Industrial Technologies Office is supporting large-scale collaborative research and development (R&D) projects that could benefit your business. There are aerospace opportunities for Canadian companies of all sizes, especially small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs).

Earlier this month, Industry Minister James Moore announced the launch of the Aerospace Technology Demonstration Program, a four-year, $100-million initiative that will support technology demonstration projects with strong commercialization potential. For SMEs who struggle to prove the viability of their designs, this new program bridges the gap between conceptualization and bringing products to market.

Product Life Cycles and the Valley of Death

As Jim Quick, president of the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC), told the Montreal Gazette, the Aerospace Technology Demonstration Program will help SMEs answer a critical question: “How do you prove that your product can go onto an aircraft?” Today, this challenge is so costly and considerable that Suzanne Benoît, president of Aéro Montréal, calls it  “the valley of death”.

In joining these and other industry leaders at the Aerospace Technology Demonstration Program announcement, I was also excited about the possibilities. The aerospace engines that were on display were impressive, but smaller companies typically produce high-quality components instead of complete systems. Engines require engine seals, however, so there are custom fabrication opportunities.

Collaborative R&D and Defense Industry Experience

Part of what makes the Aerospace Technology Demonstration Program so important is that it requires the integration of multiple technologies and coordination between many different partners. All projects must be led by an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or Tier 1 integrator, but Canada’s SMEs will also play an important role by strengthening supply chains and sharing application knowledge.

As an SME with a long history of working with Tier 1 and Tier 2 defense contractors, Elasto Proxy understands the importance of providing high-quality sealing solutions for cost-effective military programs. Since our founding in 1989, we’ve worked hard to earn the trust of the defense community, developing strict quality-control procedures and earning a Controlled Goods Certificate (CGC).

Tier 1 Integrators and SMEs

Working with airframe manufacturers such as Bombardier, Boeing, and Airbus SAS would offer a new set of challenges, of course, but Elasto Proxy is ready to embrace opportunities. From our headquarters in Boisbriand, Quebec, we work with partners around the world and meet sealing challenges in a variety of industries, including automotive, electronics, mass transit, and mobile specialty vehicles.

Canada’s new Aerospace Technology Demonstration Program offers incredible opportunities to Tier 1 integrators, OEMs, and SMEs alike. By working together, enterprises of all sizes can prove the viability of new technologies and help Canada stay competitive in key industrial sectors that employ over 170,000 people across the country.

Would you like to discuss ways that your company could partner with Elasto Proxy and serve Canada’s defense and aerospace industries? Please comment on this blog entry, connect with me on LinkedIn, or contact us at any of our offices. How can we help you?

Rubber Bladders and Rail Shipments of Crude Oil

Oil Transport

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Clyde Sharpe
President for International Sales of Elasto Proxy

What is the role of rubber in transporting crude oil across North America? Last week, we examined how elastomeric seals support pipeline safety. From risers to wellheads to pumps and valves, the oil and gas industry needs reliable rubber products that meet application requirements for temperature, pressure, and oilfield media. As the U.S.-based Plantation Pipe Line company learned in 2006, gasket failure can release fuel into waterways and result in steep fines and environmental damage.

Closer to home and more recently, Canadians are still coping with the disaster at Lac-Mégantic, Québec, the site of a massive train derailment that burned or spilled 5,630,000 liters of light crude oil last July. Owned and operated by the Montreal, Maine, and Atlantic (MMA) Railway, the freight train included 72 tanker cars traveling from North Dakota to New Brunswick. As rail shipments of crude continue to rise, is there anything that can be done to make oil tankers safer?

Rail Safety and Professional Networking

The summer before the Lac-Mégantic disaster, members of the Frac Sand group on LinkedIn may have discovered a solution. In a discussion about open railcars, the head of a transportation company asked for advice about transporting frac sand, a crush-resistant sand that’s used in hydraulic fracturing. As the conversation considered various technologies, a railway executive suggested using rubber bladders and referred to an article about them in World Coal magazine.

As John Licht, the Director of Business Development at Badger Farm Rail explained, rubber bladders are manufactured to military specifications and designed to withstand high temperatures while transporting diesel fuel. Frac sand has different chemical properties than diesel, of course, but could fuel bladders used in military operations withstand railroad conditions? And could rubber bladders serve as secondary containment systems within steel rail cars that carry crude oil?

Crashworthy and Self-Sealing Bladders

The defense industry may hold yet another lesson for railways that haul flammable fuels.  As the military contractor Musthane explains, crashworthy and self-sealing bladders are used on-board ships, aircraft, helicopters, and armored vehicles. Made of specialty fabrics coated with urethane or nitrile, these fuel bladders often include aramids along with a special foam that helps to balance the liquid in the tank and avoid explosions.

Aerotec Laboratories (ATL) also manufactures crashworthy fuel tanks for military and civilian customers, including NASCAR and Formula One. Recently, the New Jersey-based company also entered the market for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), supplying lightweight fuel bladders made of rubberized fabrics. To produce leak-tight joints, the seams are vulcanized. Fuel bladder configurations include rectangular and cylindrical, as well as radiused edge and convoluted fuselage.

What’s the Answer? 

For Canada’s energy future, the stakes are high – especially in the tragic aftermath of the Lac-Mégantic disaster. Although some may claim that railroads can never be made safe enough, shipments of crude oil are rising – 28,000% in the last 5 years. Could crashworthy rubber bladders in railcars help to avert spills and explosions in the event of another train derailment? What are some other solutions to increase rail safety and avoid another tragedy?

As a supplier of high-quality, custom-fabricated sealing solutions to a variety of industries, Elasto Proxy welcomes this debate and encourages you participate. I hope you’ll comment on this blog entry and share your own knowledge, whether it’s about railcars, petroleum products, or rubber. As the members of the Frac Sand group on LinkedIn can attest, it’s better to work together.

Oil Pipelines and Elastomers – Compound Selection and Seal Design


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Clyde Sharpe
President for International Sales of Elasto Proxy

What is the safest way to transport crude from the oil sands of Alberta to the petroleum refineries of Eastern Canada? After this summer’s tragic train derailment in Lac-Mégantic, TransCanada Corp. is promoting the Energy East Pipeline as safe, cost-effective, and efficient alternative to rail shipments. As the company’s CEO told CBC News, oil pipelines also promote job creation and energy independence.

Rail Shipments and Crude Oil

Just two months after residents of Lac-Mégantic awoke to the sounds of rail cars exploding, Canadians are still coping with this man-made disaster.  On the night of July 6, an unattended freight train with 72 oil tankers burned or spilled 5,630,000 liters of light crude near a scenic lakeside community in Québec. Buildings burned, residents were forced to flee their homes, and 47 people lost their lives.

Today, Canadians aren’t alone in wondering if oil tankers or oil pipelines are safer – or if any type of crude oil transport is truly “safe” at all.  In the United States, the fate of proposed Keystone XL Pipeline remains uncertain. Yet rail shipments of crude continue to rise across North America. The train that derailed in Lac-Mégantic was bound for New Brunswick, but began its journey in North Dakota.

Rubber Seals and Pipeline Safety

Could TransCanada’s proposed Energy East Pipeline, or Keystone XL for that matter, prove safer than the rail shipments that now crisscross the continent? As a supplier of high-quality sealing solutions to a wide range of industries, Elasto Proxy is watching this debate closely. Our Boisbriand, Québec company is also ready to join the conversation, sharing what we’ve learned over the course of our nearly 25-year history.

Elastomeric seals are just one of many components in railcars and pipelines, so they’re easy to overlook – at least to the casual observer. Failed seals can result in down-time and equipment damage, however, as when door seals on fuel tanks disintegrate and clog diesel engines. The stakes are higher with crude oil pipelines, even without fires and fatalities.

End Cap Seals and O-Rings

The oil and gas industry uses end cap seals and O-rings that are made of special elastomer grades and validated against international and industry standards such as ISO 01423 and API 6A PR2 F.1.11. Typical sealing duties include risers, riser bodies, riser joints, and riser joint connectors; wellheads and wellhead chokes;  and valves and pumps.

During seal selection, pipeline builders and technical buyers consider specifications such as temperature and pressure. Oilfield media is also important, and some compounds are better-suited for crude oil than sour crude. Today, most elastomeric oilfield seals made of nitrile, hydrogenated nitrile (HNBR), fluoroelastomers, tetrafluoroethylene and/or propylene polymers, and perfluoroelastomer.

Choosing Rubber Compounds

Nitrile is the most common oilfield elastomer. Cost-effective and resistant to hydrocarbons, this resilient rubber offers limited weathering resistance and modest temperature resistance. Hydrogenated nitrile (HNBR) provides better weathering resistance and a wider temperature range, but limited resistance to aromatics.  Fluoroelastomers offer excellent resistance to aromatics, ozone, and weathering.

Tetrafluoroethylene and/or propylene polymers also offer excellent weathering and ozone resistance, along with good heat resistance and good overall chemical resistance. Some grades are difficult to process, however. Perfluoroelastomers provide the ultimate heat and chemical resistance, but are very expensive and have modest mechanical properties at elevated temperatures.

How Can We Help You?

Do you need help sourcing rubber compounds for use with oils, fuels, and chemicals? Do you need help with seal design, or do you have questions about mechanical properties or resistance to temperature, chemicals, ozone, weathering and pressure? Regardless of your industry, it’s essential to specify and select the right seals for your application.

Next week, I’ll take a look at rubber parts used in railcars such as oil tankers. Until then, I hope you’ll comment on this blog entry, and connect with me on LinkedIn.

Medical Plastics and K 2013


Clyde Sharpe
President of International Sales for Elasto Proxy

Did you know that more than half of the world’s manufactured medical products are made of medical plastics? From contact lenses and syringes to intubation tubing and prosthetics, hospitals and healthcare facilities use products made of polymers. Packaging, building and construction, and the automotive industry still consume most of the world’s plastics production, but medical technology is a fast-growing market.

Rubber components for durable medical equipment and medical assist devices are also helping to meet the growing global demand for manufactured medical solutions. For suppliers who need to source latex-free materials, avoiding allergens is critical. As a recent draft guidance document from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) explains, accuracy in medical product labeling is an important industry goal.

The K Show in Dusseldorf, Germany

For rubber and plastics companies who want to meet shared challenges and learn about the latest in processing technologies, Germany’s K Show is the place to be this fall. From October 16 to 23, the city of Dusseldorf will host over 3,000 exhibitors who specialize in raw materials and semi-finished products, technical parts and reinforced plastics, machinery and processing equipment, and value-added services.

Held just once every three years, the K Show will also feature a special focus on meeting the needs of the medical marketplace. For innovative companies who want to grow along with the medical industry, K 2013 will offer access to potential partners who can strengthen supply chains and offer both technical expertise and application knowledge.

Meet Elasto Proxy at K 2013

As an experienced provider of sealing solutions to the medical equipment industry, Elasto Proxy invites you to meet our co-founders and co-owners at K 2013. Twenty-five years ago, Doug Sharpe and Donna Sharpe started a family-owned business based on strong business relationships. Today, Elasto Proxy is a growing, global supplier of more than just high-quality rubber and plastic products.

Our company’s name, a marriage “elastomer and proxy”, defines our commitment to understanding your needs and delivering on them. By building upon this business philosophy, our solutions providers understand the medical industry’s regulatory environment and how some plastic and rubber materials must meet requirements such as those from the U.S. FDA and NSF International.

Rubber and Plastic Parts for Medical Applications

Elasto Proxy specializes in the custom fabrication of rubber and plastic parts such as silicone tubing for medical devices and dental equipment, molded diaphragms for hospital air regulators, and medical gaskets made of specialized compounds for X-Ray machines. So whether you need sealing solutions for hospitals, medical offices, or home-health care settings, Elasto Proxy can help.

In addition to providing products for durable medical equipment, Elasto Proxy also designs and custom fabricates components for medical assist devices. Examples include rubber seals for handicap-accessible walk-in bathtubs, plastic end caps and rubber rollers for steel-frame hospital beds, foam grips for bed grab handles, seals for ceiling-mounting patient lifts, and mattress overlays to prevent patient rollout.

Solving Specialized Sealing Challenges

To help solve your sealing challenges, Elasto Proxy can also supply EMI shielding for medical equipment and high-quality parts made of thermoplastic elastomers (TPE), special materials with antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Although TPEs have a higher material cost than other compounds, thermoplastic rubbers are cost-effective for small runs because they cure right away.

So are you headed to K 2013 this October? Whether your tradeshow plans include this industry-leading event or not, I hope you’ll comment on this blog entry with questions about medical applications for high-quality rubber and plastic products. How can we help you?