Flame Retardant Rubber for Vehicle Interiors and Electronic Enclosures

Flame Retardant RubberFlame 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

Railcar Rubber Products and Flame, Smoke, and Toxicity (FST) Standards

Railcar Rubber ProductsRailcar rubber products need to meet flame smoke, and toxicity (FST) standards that protect human health and safety. Fires that burn railcar seats, floors, wall panels, and other interior components don’t just cause immediate injuries and fatalities. Flames can release smoke that obscures escape routes. Burning rubber that releases toxic gases can also overwhelm passengers and employees.

Suppliers offer compounds that meet FST standards, but design engineers still facing a challenging task. The flame, smoke, and toxicity standards for railcar materials vary widely. Designers need to familiarize themselves not just with different standards, but with standards used in different countries. By partnering with the right fabricator, however, you can source the right rubber products for sealing and insulation. Continue reading Railcar Rubber Products and Flame, Smoke, and Toxicity (FST) Standards

Mass Transit Maintenance: Custom Rubber Products for Bus and Train Repairs

Mass Transit MaintenanceMass transit maintenance organizations need to make cost-effective repairs to buses and trains. Public transit authorities and maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) companies also want to source replacement parts in low-to-medium volume quantities. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can supply these custom rubber products, but usually at higher prices than sourcing managers want to pay. The minimum order quantities (MOQs) may be more than maintenance crews need, too.

Elasto Proxy offers a cost-effective alternative to OEM pricing and MOQs. For custom seals and specialty insulation, Elasto Proxy supplies rubber products in low-to-medium volume quantities. In addition to custom fabrication, we provide design assistance and help with material selection. If you don’t have a drawing for the rubber part that you need to replace, just sent us a sample and we’ll create a CAD file. We can also recommend the right rubber and determine the most cost-effective MOQ. Continue reading Mass Transit Maintenance: Custom Rubber Products for Bus and Train Repairs

ZMT Insulation Resists Heat, Sound, Fire, and Chemicals

thermal acoustic insulationZMT insulation from Elasto Proxy is a thermal acoustic composite that also resists fire and chemicals. Applications include firewalls and engine bays.

Elasto Proxy custom-fabricates silicone composites that combine thermal and acoustical insulation with resistance to flame and fire, chemicals and oil, and electrostatic energy. These multi-layer materials consist of a silicone foam, neoprene skin, aluminum facing, and pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA). Applications for Elasto Proxy’s ZMT insulation include the firewalls and engine bays in mobile equipment and military vehicles. ZMT also meets flame-resistance requirements for the mass transit and aviation industries. Continue reading ZMT Insulation Resists Heat, Sound, Fire, and Chemicals

Rubber Door Seals for Passenger Rail Cars

Rubber Door SealsIn this case study, you’ll learn how Elasto Proxy applied its expertise in seal design, compound selection, custom fabrication and logistics to supply rubber door seals for passenger rail cars. How can we help you solve your sealing and insulation challenges?

Manufacturers of mobile equipment need to source rubber parts that meet all of their application and business requirements. When a manufacturer of mass transit vehicles needed to replace the door seals on passenger trains, Elasto Proxy applied its expertise in technical design, compound selection, custom fabrication, and logistics. In solving this sealing challenge, Elasto Proxy improved the original seal design and helped the mobile equipment manufacturer meet the urgent needs of an important customer.

As the rail car manufacturer explained to us, the existing seals on some passenger cars had become worn and were leaking. The manufacturer’s customer, a major passenger rail service in the Northeastern United States, wanted to solve this problem quickly. In turn, Elasto Proxy needed to create new door seals in less than two weeks and send them to Philadelphia for installation. Since the “test train” for these replacement seals would remain at the station for less than 24 hours, ease-of-installation was also important. Continue reading Rubber Door Seals for Passenger Rail Cars

Design Considerations for Acoustic Insulation

Video - Acoustic Insulation Design Considerations
Video – Acoustic Insulation Design Considerations

Technical buyers and design engineers need to evaluate all of their application requirements when specifying acoustic insulation. Sound dampening and sound absorption aren’t the same, and some acoustic materials may not be suitable for specific environments or frequencies.

Noisy equipment can cause hearing loss and result in violations that carry fines and other penalties. In North America, regulatory agencies such as OSHA, NIOSH and the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) establish workplace limits for noise exposure. Yet the fact remains that noise and hearing loss are the second most prevalent self-reported work-related injury, according to the Hearing Research Laboratory at the University of Ottawa.

Noise can also affect perceptions of product quality. That’s why some potential car buyers listen to how a vehicle’s door sounds when it closes. In a sports car, engine noise suggests speed and power. In a tractor, dump track, or military vehicle, loud engine sounds within the cab are unwanted. For technical buyers and design engineers then, noise mitigation can be about enhancing worker safety, ensuring regulatory compliance, improving the customer experience – or all of the above.

Acoustic insulation is essential, but what are some design considerations? In other words, what do buyers and designers need to know? Continue reading Design Considerations for Acoustic Insulation

Certified Transit Grade (CTG) Seals Resist Flame, Smoke, and Toxicity (FST)

Video - CTG Seals Resist FST
Video – CTG Seals Resist FST

Elasto Proxy custom-fabricates EPDM gaskets made of certified transit grade (CTG) rubber that resists flame, smoke, and toxicity (FST). Technical buyers and design engineers who source custom-fabricated CTG seals can meet mass transit industry requirements and precise project specifications.

Mass transit systems need to operate efficiently while ensuring passenger safety and controlling costs. Bus accidents, train derailments, and subway delays capture the headlines, but the mass transit industry must manage other risks, too. Fires within a cabin, vehicle, or passenger car can do more than burn seats, wall panels, and other interior components. Smoke from combustion reactions can obscure escape routes. Burning materials that release toxic gases can also overwhelm passengers and employees, too. Continue reading Certified Transit Grade (CTG) Seals Resist Flame, Smoke, and Toxicity (FST)

Make It or Buy It? Part 1: Manufacturing Overhead Costs

Source: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-indirect-manufacturing-costs.htm
Source: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-indirect-manufacturing-costs.htm

Doug Sharpe
President of Elasto Proxy

What types of products does your company make? No matter what your industry, manufactured goods have two types of costs: direct and indirect. Direct costs, such as labor and materials, are expenses that you can attribute to the production of specific items. Indirect costs, such as management salaries and property taxes, represent all of the other costs of doing business. These overhead costs can be fixed or variable, and include manufacturing overhead costs (MOH) that some companies underestimate.

Until you capture all of your MOH or factory costs, your company may price its products too low – and fail to turn a profit. Your technical buyers and production managers may also make the wrong decisions about outsourcing the production of parts such as rubber gaskets. Although some companies claim it’s cheaper to produce these components in-house, their true factory burden indicates that outsourcing is cheaper.

So how can you determine whether it’s better to outsource your gasket fabrication?

What Are Your Costs?

Every company is different, and manufacturing overhead costs vary by industry, location, plant size, and sales volume. By expressing overhead as a percentage or proportion – a rate – instead of a dollar amount, you can compare indirect costs to direct costs and calculate total expenses. According to Grant Thornton, one of the world’s largest accounting firms, overhead rates can vary from 20% to 130%. Often but not always, these rates are lower at larger companies because these firms can spread the cost of indirect expenses across higher volumes of manufactured units.

Years ago, the Harvard Business Review studied the challenge of reducing factory costs and concluded that “across the spectrum of U.S. industry, manufacturing overhead averages 35% of production costs.” The RAND Corporation, another well-respected institution, reported that general and administrative (G&A) costs in one industry alone (defense) could exceed direct labor costs “by a factor of two or more”. An EPA study of the automotive industry puts the ratio of direct costs to indirect costs at 1:1 or 1:1.5.

Only your cost accountants know your company’s MOH costs, so let’s apply a range of overhead rates to an example of in-house gasket fabrication. In this way, even if you can’t pinpoint a percentage, you can see for yourself whether outsourcing is more expensive.

Some Examples

In North America, the average hourly wage for a factory worker is about $25. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, workers earned $24.93 (USD) in August 2014. In Canada, the last available data is from May 2014, when workers earned an average of $22.80 (CSD). Canadian manufacturing soared in August, however, so it’s likely that number is now higher. Even considering the U.S.-Canada exchange rate, it’s reasonable to put manufacturing’s hourly rate at $25.

Let’s say you need gaskets to complete a project, and that a custom fabricator can supply them for $20 each. Your alternative is to buy standard rubber profiles at $5 each, and then cut and splice the parts in-house. If per-unit production takes 30 minutes, you’ll spend about $12.50 for labor and $5 for materials (not including waste). That $17.50 is less than what you’d pay for outsourced, fully-finished $20 gasket.

Remember, however, that $17.50 represents only your direct costs. Now let’s apply a range of overhead rates to see what your total per-gasket costs could be.

Direct
Labor
Direct Materials Total
Direct Costs
Overhead
Rate
Overhead
Dollars
Total
Gasket Cost*
12.50 5.00 17.50 25% 4.375 21.88
12.50 5.00 17.50 50% 8.75 26.25
12.50 5.00 17.50 75% 13.125 30.63
12.50 5.00 17.50 100% 17.50 35.00
12.50 5.00 17.50 125% 21.875 39.38
12.50 5.00 17.50 150% 26.25 43.75
12.50 5.00 17.50 175% 30.625 48.13
12.50 5.00 17.50 200% 35.00 52.50

*Total gasket costs include rounding

Some Conclusions – and Questions

Across every scenario, it’s cheaper to outsource your gasket fabrication than it is to produce these parts in-house. Why can the custom fabricator produce these components more cost-effectively? Instead of using a cardboard cut-out and a utility knife, the gasket fabricator uses a state-of-the-art waterjet cutter. Instead of splicing profiles by-hand, the specialist uses a splicing machine. Ultimately, this means that outsourcing’s per-unit costs are lower, both in terms of labor and materials.

When you calculate the cost of in-house production, do you include the cost of re-work, too? Unless your production team cuts profiles all the time, they won’t have the experience of a custom fabricator. Also, are you still “saving money” since each worker requires training, and quality assurance personnel must check each fabricated part for defects? Your tooling costs may be as inexpensive as a utility knife and an adhesive, but how much longer does it take to use them?

There are material costs to consider, too. Do you track waste from in-house production? If so, how much rubber is wasted? Whenever a worker makes the wrong cut and throws away a profile, those costs are absorbed by your business. As the complexity of cutting and splicing increases, so does waste – or muda, as it’s known in lean manufacturing. Seals for five-sided doors, and profiles that require 30° or 35° cuts are challenging. So are rubber floor mats that must fit cabs precisely and account for bolts and pedals.

How Can We Help You?

Do you need finished gaskets for applications such as automotive, construction, defense, electronics, food equipment, green power, mass transit, medical equipment, or mobile specialty vehicles? For 25 years, Elasto Proxy has been helping partners to solve sealing and insulation problems. From compound selection to seal design and custom fabrication, we’re ready to listen. How can we help you?

Please contact us for more information, or join the conversation on our social media channels. Look for a post with a link to this blog entry on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. Elasto Proxy has a YouTube channel, too. Finally, please subscribe to our free e-newsletters. They’re a great source of information delivered right to your email inbox, and they provide links to blog entries like this one.

Taping for Rubber Seals and Gaskets

Taped Part

Doug Sharpe
President of Elasto Proxy

Taping keeps rubber profiles in place for temporary or permanent fastening. This joining technique isn’t right for every sealing application, but taping is especially valuable when space is limited. For example, the automotive industry uses taped parts with car windows and cab profiles to form an effective seal. Taping also provides faster installation times than plastic pins, which require drilling a hole for each pin and then pushing each pin through.

As a full-service custom fabricator, Elasto Proxy offers taping services that can reduce installation times and promote production efficiency. For out-of-the-box sealing solutions, ask how we can supply taped rubber gaskets with an adhesive backing. In this way, your production team can simply peel-and-stick components during assembly. By water jet cutting your seals to the dimensions and specifications you provide, Elasto Proxy can also help you to reduce material waste associated with assembly-line cutting.

HATS and PSA

For dependable, cost-effective taping, Elasto Proxy supplies rubber parts with either HATS adhesive or PSA double-sided tape. By analyzing your sealing requirements and your business needs, our solutions providers can recommend the taping solution that’s right for your application. Technical knowledge and application expertise inform our decisions, but Elasto Proxy’s commitment to you means promising to fully understand your needs and delivering on them.

For example, 3M’s heat-activated adhesive taping system (HATS) is right for applications that require excellent adhesion and holding strength along with strong stress-handling and weatherstripping capabilities. HATS is used with automotive paints and plastics, but also with sponge profiles that require permanent sealing. Double-sided PSA tape is used for bonding rubber trim, seals, and gaskets to rough or porous surfaces. Since PSA tape is removable, these taped parts are easy for installers to work with.

Taping Now and Then

Both HATS and PSA taping are highly-effective, but recent equipment upgrades are enhancing Elasto Proxy’s capabilities while driving down costs. Just as we introduced an infrared film splicer, the taping machine in our custom fabrication facility now features an IR pre-heater to improve bonding strength and reduce energy consumption. Our taping machine also has an automatic feeder to speed this labor-intensive task, which once required two operators.

During custom fabrication, the IR pre-heater is used to heat the surface of the tape before it passes through our taping machine, where forced hot air finishes the task. Automatic feeding reduces setup times and streamlines production by eliminating the need for operator intervention. By strengthening production techniques and driving down costs, Elasto Proxy is investing in the future.

How Can We Help You?

For 25 years, Elasto Proxy has been solving sealing and insulation challenges in a wide variety of industries. By listening to your needs and analyzing all of your requirements, we can recommend the right taping technique for your applications. How can we help you?

Please contact us for more information, or join the conversation on our social media channels. Look for a post with a link to this blog entry on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. Elasto Proxy has a YouTube channel, too. Finally, please subscribe to our free e-newsletters. They’re a great source of information delivered right to your email inbox, and they provide links to blog entries like this one.

Would You Travel by Vacuum Tube Train?

Image: Terraspan.org
Image: Terraspan.org

Doug Sharpe
President of Elasto Proxy

Thomas Edison discovered that electricity could travel in a vacuum. Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla Motors, may yet prove that vacuum tubes can transport rail passengers, too. Although the Canadian-American billionaire ruled out the use of vacuum tunnels in his proposed Hyperloop transportation system, a company called Terraspan is now curiously quiet about building a 4,000 mph (6,437 km/h) vacuum tube train, which would double as a superconducting power line.

Back in the summer of 2012, the website Gizmag asked readers why such an ultra-efficient, high-speed train wasn’t being built. Did Terraspan determine that vacuum-tube transport was unsafe? Was the cost of using mag-lev technology too high? Pay a visit to the Terraspan website today, and you’re prompted to “stay posted for the latest on how Terraspan and Hyperloop complement each other.” So what might Terraspan have in mind, and do vacuum tubes have a place in our transportation future?

The Past as Prologue

During the 1800s, pneumatic tubes transported telegrams and inspired inventors to envision projects for moving people. New York City’s first subway system, the Beach Pneumatic Transit, could fit 22 travelers in a single car, but lasted just three years. Terrapsan’s plans are far more ambitious than a 312-ft. train tunnel and a massive fan. According to the Gizmag article, the futuristic transit company aims to build a network of underground vacuum tunnels that would link eastern Canada to points south and west.

That’s not all either. “Embedded in the train tunnel network,” the article continues, “would be a series of thick superconducting energy cables that would form the heart of the first true continental power grid.” Does that remind you of Are Solar Roads the Way of the Future?, Elasto Proxy’s controversial blog entry about the viability of solar paneled roadways and their underground conduits for power cables? As a noted non-engineer named William Shakespeare once wrote, “What’s past is prologue.”

It Will (Never) Work

Are vacuum-tube trains viable? That’s not an idle question for business travelers like me. As the co-founder and co-owner of a global company with headquarters in Quebec, I could travel from Montreal to Shanghai in just under two hours, and from Montreal to Sao Paulo in even less time than that.  Mag-lev technology isn’t new, but are Terraspan’s plans cost-effective? Building Japan’s Linimo HSST, a low-speed mag-lev line, cost approximately $100-million (USD) per 0.62 miles.

Concerns about cost are just scratching the surface, too. For example, how well would Elon Musk’s Hyperloop, which has been likened to “a cross between Concorde, a railgun, and an air hockey table”, work in the real world? In the Terraspan system, how well would the vacuum function if part of a tube wall failed? In other words, would efficiency losses mean that the trains no longer run on-time?

What We Know

Recently, Elon Musk posted a 57-page proof-of-concept about the Hyperloop Alpha. According to the abstract, Hyperloop would feature low-pressure capsules that are “supported on a cushion of air” and “accelerated via a magnetic linear accelerator affixed at various stations on the low pressure tube with rotors contained in each capsule.” For travelers like you and me, the cost of a one-way ticket from Los Angeles to San Francisco would be an estimated $20 (USD).

Hyperloop Alpha won’t help with my own intercontinental travel plans, but both Musk’s capsules and Terraspan’s trains would surely need the kind of sealing and insulation solutions that Elasto Proxy can provide. Wind, rain, and sunlight aren’t part of a vacuum tube’s environment, of course, but railcar designers must still account for a variety of factors in compound selection and part design. Ultimately, both vehicle performance and passenger safety are critical in all transportation applications.

What We Wonder About

Here at Elasto Proxy, we’re following mass transit innovations with great interest. At the same time, concepts such as the Hyperloop Alpha and Terraspan raise many questions. For example, would the demand for lightweight rubber materials be more, less, or about the same with ultra-efficient trains? In terms of passenger health and safety, how would flame, smoke, and toxicity (FST) standards evolve, and what could that mean for the use of fireproof rubber materials?

Underground vacuum-tube trains would need other critical components, too. As Elon Musk’s proof-of-concept explains, “a ground based high speed rail system is susceptible to Earthquakes and needs frequent expansion joints to deal with thermal expansion/contraction and subtle, large scale land movement.” As a supplier to the building and construction industry, Elasto Proxy has met custom fabrication challenges like this, too.

Is the Hyperloop Alpha a bridge too far? Will Terraspan build a network of high-speed international trains? Will Elon Musk and others take the giant strides of Thomas Edison, or will they follow in the small footsteps of Alfred Beach, inventor of New York’s short-lived pneumatic subway?

How Can We Help You?

For 25 years, Elasto Proxy has been solving sealing challenges in a wide variety of industries, including mass transit. By listening to your needs and analyzing all of your requirements, we can recommend the right solutions for your applications. How can we help you?

Please contact us for more information, or join the conversation on our social media channels. Look for a post with a link to this blog entry on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. Elasto Proxy has a YouTube channel, too. Finally, please subscribe to our free e-newsletters. They’re a great source of information delivered right to your email inbox, and they provide links to blog entries like this one.