Reverse Engineering: Replacing Old Rubber Parts with New Sealing Solutions

Reverse Engineering

What happens when a search for old rubber parts doesn’t deliver results? Engineers have options.

Do you need an industrial rubber product from a supplier that’s no longer in business? Maybe you need a rubber part that’s become obsolete instead. If you can’t get the rubber products that you need, it might be time to reverse-engineer them. Reverse engineering, or back engineering, is the process of reproducing a part such as a gasket based on a detailed examination of its composition and construction.

Reverse engineering may seem straightforward enough, but there’s plenty to think about here. For starters, how much do you really know about the drawing or part sample that you have? Is the information accurate, current, and complete? Let’s take a closer look at what engineers need to ask themselves when it’s time to replace old rubber parts with new sealing solutions.

Do you have a part drawing?

Sometimes, all that an engineer has to work with is a vague drawing or a page from an old catalog. This isn’t optimal, but it’s a start. By partnering with a rubber fabricator who provides design assistance, you may be able to discern additional details. You’ll also need to determine part dimensions and materials of construction. Elastomers like EPDM, neoprene, and polyethylene have different properties – and prices.

Are the callouts current?

Part drawings and old catalog pages may contain callouts that are no longer valid. Some standards are updated more frequently than others, but ones that are decades old are probably out-of-date. With a rubber part from the 1950s, for example, a callout for lead paint won’t meet today’s environmental requirements. Military standards from the analog age don’t account for digital technologies either.

If you have a sample part, what do the tolerances tell you?

Tolerances are allowable variations in physical dimensions. For engineers who are used to working with metal components, it’s important to understand that the tolerances for rubber parts aren’t as tight. With older rubber products, it’s also worth appreciating that a sample part could be at either the high end or the low end of a range of allowable tolerances. Temperature can change a rubber part’s dimensions, too.

Are you willing to pay for reverse engineering and tooling?

Reverse engineering can be expensive if you need to pay an extruder to create custom tooling. That’s why order quantities are so important. If the quantities you need are low, spreading your tooling costs across a small number of gaskets probably isn’t cost-efficient. Even if a vendor supplies the minimum order quantity (MOQ) that you need, the price for extrusions could be too high.

Can you update the part with a standard product?

Fortunately, engineers have options. You could update the part design and use a newer, standard product instead. For example, is there a catalog part that could meet your requirements? If so, you might like to know that Elasto Proxy keeps 700 standard profiles in stock and also provides custom fabrication services. Because we use water jet equipment, there aren’t any tooling costs during cutting either.

Are you ready to proceed?

Now that you’ve asked and answered this series of questions, are you ready to replace old rubber parts from suppliers who are no longer in business? Do you need to source replacements for obsolete parts instead? Either way, you’ll find that Elasto Proxy combines design assistance, help with material selection, and water jet cutting with value-added services that can ease the pain in your supply chain.

Would you like to learn more? Then contact Elasto Proxy.

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Adhesive Taping for Industrial Rubber Products

Adhesive Taping

Adhesive taping speeds installation, but you’ll need to select the right tape and the right fabricator.

What’s the best way to attach industrial rubber products like gaskets, edge trim, and weather-stripping to glass, plastic, or metal surfaces? Mechanical fastening is reliable, but it’s also time-consuming. Adhesive taping can speed assembly, but you’ll need to select the right tape and then fabricate it efficiently.

In this article from Elasto Proxy, you’ll learn about the advantages of adhesive taping. You’ll also learn how to select the right high-strength tape for your specific application. By choosing taped gaskets for sealing and insulation, you can save time and money during assembly operations.

Adhesive Taping Advantages

Adhesive taping provides faster installation times than plastic pins, which require drilling a hole for each pin and then pushing the pins through. Adhesive taping is also a plus when space is limited. Products such as acrylic foam tapes are compressible and can provide cushioning, noise control, and vibration resistance.  By comparison, mechanically-fastened assemblies can loosen over time and cause noise and vibration.

Adhesive tapes provide strong, reliable bonds and can expand or contract with changes in temperature. Stress dissipates throughout the tape’s core and isn’t just concentrated at the bond line. By contrast, stress in screwed joints concentrates in the screw’s threaded portions. Under variable load conditions, these threaded sections are especially vulnerable.

Adhesive tapes also conform to surface irregularities. Glass, plastic, and metal surfaces remain clean and smooth since there aren’t any raised areas with bolts, pins, or screw heads. Adhesive taping also provides engineers with a variety of options. For example, you can choose gasket tapes that provide temporary or permanent fastening, or that can withstand indoor or outdoor conditions.

Adhesive Tape Types: HATS and PSA

Adhesive tapes for rubber gaskets typically use either a pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) or a heat-activated taping system (HATS). PSA tapes can be single-sided or double-sided. Some use a high-performance adhesive for high tack and peel resistance. Installers like PSA tapes because assembly involves removing a release liner, positioning the rubber product, and applying hand pressure.

HATS tapes use heat and curing so that the tape and gasket are fused together. HATS high-bond tapes are a good choice for door seals that might otherwise come apart from repeated pushing on the door assembly. These gasket tapes also feature strong stress-handling and weather-stripping capabilities for outdoor use. In mobile equipment, they can dampen vibrations and provide a quieter ride.

During adhesive tape selection, engineers need to consider all of their application requirements. For example, do you need a gasket tape that’s compatible with a vehicle paint system or that can withstand conditions such as a high-humidity, tropical environment? If your sealing application is in the aerospace industry, do you need an adhesive tape that can withstand deicing agents or cold temperatures instead?

Taped Gasket Fabrication

Elasto Proxy sources 3M™ tapes and fabricates taped gaskets from lengths of rubber that are cleanly cut and spliced. With HATS products, the taping machine in our manufacturing center uses an infrared (IR) pre-heater for improved bond strength and reduced energy consumption. The IR pre-heater is used to heat the surface of the tape before it passes through the taping machine, where hot air finishes the job.

To speed this labor-intensive operation, our taping machine has an automatic feeder. With both HATS and PSA tapes, automatic feeding reduces setup times and streamlines production by eliminating the need for operator intervention. The taped gaskets that you’ll receive from Elasto Proxy are fabricated efficiently and can speed your own assembly operations because they arrive ready-to-install.

To learn more about taped gaskets, contact us.

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