Flame retardant rubber helps to protect people and property from the devastating effects of fire. By stopping or slowing the spread of flame, these elastomers reduce the rate and intensity of burning. They can also limit the release of smoke and toxins while increasing the amount of time that people have to escape from life-threatening situations. Applications for these specialized compounds include electronic enclosures and the interiors of buses, trains, and subways.
For engineers, it’s important to understand that all flame retardant rubber is not the same. There are different classes of flame retardants, chemicals that are added or applied during compounding. There are also different flammability standards by industry and within the same industry. For example, the mass transit industry has so many different flame, smoke, and toxicity (FST) standards that simply asking for an “FST compound” or “flame retardant rubber” risks getting you the wrong material. Continue reading Flame Retardant Rubber for Vehicle Interiors and Electronic Enclosures
FDA gasket materials are used in food contact applications such as commercial kitchens. They meet strict standards from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a regulatory agency that’s responsible for protecting the public health by ensuring the safety and quality of many food products. The FDA’s jurisdiction is limited to the United States, but FDA standards are followed worldwide.
FDA gasket materials for food contact applications are subjected to rigorous testing. They are non-toxic, non-marking, non-allergenic, and reliable over a wide range of temperatures. These compounds are also tasteless, odorless, and resistant to the natural growth of bacteria. Not all food-grade rubber is FDA approved, however, so it’s important to choose gasket materials with care. Continue reading FDA Gasket Materials for Food Contact Applications
NSF gasket materials are used in commercial food service equipment, water treatment or distribution systems, and other applications that can affect human health and safety. Rubber compounds that are registered with NSF International (formerly the National Sanitary Foundation) must pass rigorous tests to ensure that potentially harmful substances won’t migrate from the gasket material when in contact with food or drinking water.
NSF standards aren’t regulatory requirements, but failing to use NSF gasket materials can put larger product designs at risk. Conversely, using NSF certified compounds can increase the likelihood of regulatory acceptance. In some jurisdictions, public authorities such as health departments require food service equipment and drinking water systems to meet a specific NSF standard. Buyers also expect to see an NSF mark on products such as commercial ovens or water filtration systems. Continue reading NSF Gasket Materials for Food Equipment and Drinking Water Systems
UL gasket materials can provide flame resistance, ingress protection, or other specialized properties. For engineers, it’s important to understand what the different standards from Underwriters Laboratories (UL) mean. It’s also worth knowing if UL gasket materials are truly required in your component-level designs. Otherwise, you may “over-engineer” your gaskets and pay too much for materials.
Compared to commodity elastomers, the prices for UL compounds are higher. The minimum order quantities (MOQs) are greater, too. In the case of rubber extrusions, the compounder has to use special tooling to account for different flow rates. The number of suppliers who offer UL materials is also limited. Unless you really need them, UL gasket materials can add unnecessary expenses to your application.
Of course, some sealing and insulation projects require UL gasket materials to meet specific requirements. In this blog entry, the first in our September series about compound selection, Elasto Proxy explains what engineers need to know about UL gaskets for flame resistance and ingress protection. These aren’t the only UL standards for gaskets, but they’re the most common – and they can be confusing. Continue reading UL Gasket Materials for Flame Resistance and Ingress Protection