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.

Rubber and Plastic Truck Parts

Rubber and Plastic Truck Parts

Doug Sharpe
President of Elasto Proxy

Powerful machines inspire us. Maybe that’s why a single type of vehicle is known by so many different names. In North America, the combination conveyances known as tractor trailers consist of a powered truck and one or more detachable trailers. These transports are also called semis, big rigs, and 18-wheelers, a reference to the number of tires that hit the pavement. As big as these vehicles are, there’s more rubber used in them than just the tires. There’s plenty of plastics, too.

Recently, a supplier shared with us the excellent image that accompanies this blog entry. As you can plainly see, there are callouts for plenty of parts. Polymers play an important role in sealing and trim systems, fluid transfer systems, and fuel and brake delivery systems. Front the front end of the truck to the rear end of the trailer, custom fabricated parts seal out wind and weather, convey fluids and fuel, and help support larger assemblies.

Let’s take a look at some of the rubber and plastic parts in truck products. As an experienced solutions provider to the automotive and mobile specialty vehicle industries, Elasto Proxy custom fabricates the components that let drivers keep on trucking.

Front End

Truckers travel by day and night, and in weather conditions that keep other motorists at home. Rubber headlamp seals need to keep out wind and water, withstand a wide range of service temperatures, and demonstrate material compatibility with metal, glass, and plastic components. This includes headlamp lenses that are made of poly(methyl methacrylate) or PMMA, a transparent thermoplastic used as a lightweight, shatter-resistant alternative to glass.

The front end of a truck also contains rubber and plastic parts such the transmission oiler cooler (TOC) hose, TOC quick connect, and oil pickup tube. Along with oil and abrasion resistance, compliance with Society of Automotive Engineer (SAE) standards is important. The overmolded bracket that’s behind the headlamp assembly must also be tough. Typically, this injection-molded part is made of a hard plastic. Finally, the front end’s brake-line assembly needs to provide chemical and pressure resistance.

Engine Compartment and Cabin

Rubber and plastic truck parts also play a role under the hood. For example, the truck’s fluid transfer system includes polymer parts such as coolant and engine oil tubes. There are also rubber radiator hose and coolant hose assemblies, along with a plate-style transmission cooler and liquid-level sensor. The brake line assembly for the anti-lock braking system (ABS) is critical, and the hood to cowl seal protects the entire engine compartment from the outside environment.

The truck’s cabin also contains seals, trim, and fuel and brake delivery systems. From interior trim and trim seals to glass run seals and encapsulated glass, rubber and plastic helps to protect the driver. The truck’s cabin also features inner and outer belts, bulb seals, an extender fairing, and cabin flooring. There’s usually floor matting, too. Fuel and brake line components made of rubber include air brake lines, the rear brake line assembly, and both the fuel tank bundle and the brake and fuel tank bundle.

How Can We Help You?

Elasto Proxy doesn’t build big rigs, but we do specialize in the custom-fabrication of rubber and plastic truck parts that help keep them running smoothly. Our experienced solutions providers are ready to help you select the right compounds, design seals and insulation with all of your requirements in mind, and even source the door and body seals on the trailer. 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.

Film Splicing for Rubber Seals and Gaskets

PE FIlm Splice
Elasto Proxy’s New Film Splice Machine

Doug Sharpe
President of Elasto Proxy

Did you know that there are many different ways to splice rubber seals and gaskets? Examples include film splicing, cold bonding, C-press injection molding, and vulcanizing. Each method has its advantages, but selecting the splicing technique that’s right for your sealing application depends upon factors such as run quantity, environmental conditions, material type, and tooling costs.

For example, film splicing is a reliable, high-quality process for bonding and sealing profile gaskets without inserts. Unlike other joining methods, it creates strong bonds and does not require adhesives. With their fast cycle times, film splices are often used for higher-cycle applications. They create strong corners that won’t crack, and are suitable for taped profiles. Examples include door seals and automotive gaskets.

 

Film Splicing Then

Ten years ago, Elasto Proxy acquired a state-of-the-art film splicer. Yet there were still issues that our technical team had to overcome. With taped profiles, for example, we had to find a way to cool the part of the clamping mold where the tape is located. The reciprocating water cooler that we chose worked well, but film-splice setups were still complex. The cooling jacket also added to tooling costs, making cold bonding a more attractive splicing option for some applications.

Used mainly for low-volume splicing, cold bonding applies a quick-setting adhesive to the edges of rubber profiles that are cut with our water jet machine. Cold bonding is precise, but it’s also time-intensive. Naturally, any manual process is also subject to inconsistencies. Other splicing techniques, such as C-press molding, are more expensive. Vulcanizing is cost-effective, but generally recommended for splicing very low quantities of sponge or solid profiles that lack an internal cavity.

Film Splicing Now

Recently, Elasto Proxy introduced a newly-acquired film splicer that solves old challenges and offers exciting new possibilities. Instead of heating the clamping molds, our splicing press uses infrared (ID) light to heat the entire surface. This whole-surface heating uses less energy, produces strong bonds, and supports precise alignments while avoiding PSA or film liner degradation.   Unlike cold bonding, IR splicing also eliminates time-consuming, manual efforts that can result in discrepancies.

Elasto Proxy’s infrared splicer also increases our press clamping range. Because the molds are three times wider, our custom fabrication specialists can make 3 to 4 splices at a time instead of 1 or 2, significantly increasing productivity rates. With a traditional press, heating and holding down such large, complex shapes was a more challenging task. Today, using our newly-acquired IR film splicer, Elasto Proxy can bond polyethyelene film to EPDM rubber in the flash of a light bulb.

Ask our solutions providers about film splicing applications for water control and impact resistance. Examples include rubber gate seals and impact bumpers. With Elasto Proxy’s infrared film splicer, you have an alternative to molded parts – which can be expensive. IR film splicing also offers a degree of durability that some large splices lack. Just ask the engineer who’s braced a big spice in place, only to have the part break during transportation.

How Can We Help You?

For 25 years, Elasto Proxy has been solving sealing challenges in a wide variety of industries. By listening to your needs and analyzing all of your requirements, we can recommend the right splicing and taping techniques 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.

What If Your Tires Could Talk? Rubber Compounds and Resistance

IMG Source VehicleMD

Doug Sharpe
President of Elasto Proxy

Has it been a long, cold winter where you live? Here in Canada, we’re finally enjoying some spring-like weather. There aren’t any flowers yet, but warmer weather is coming. Farmers are probably thinking about tilling the soil, but those of us who don’t drive tractors are considering our cars. Is it time to take off the winter tires and put the summer ones on? Will it snow again? Everyone has an opinion!

If tires could talk, what would they tell us – not about the weather, but about rubber compounds and resistance? Did you know that there are several different types of rubber in your vehicle’s tires? “There’s a lot riding on your tires”, one well-known TV commercial explains. There’s plenty of chemistry that goes into tire manufacturing, too, and that’s also true of industrial rubber products.

Let’s Hit the Road

The results of rubber chemistry roll along whenever you hit the road. Butyl rubber is used for the inside of your tires because it resists gases like air, which is why modern tires are tube-less. EPDM is used for the sidewalls because it resists ozone, which can attack stress points. If you need an example of what ozone can do, check out the dry, cracked tires on an old bicycle.

Butyl and EPDM aren’t the only rubber compounds in tires, however. The treads are made of natural rubber and two types of synthetic rubber: BR and SBR. Natural rubber and BR rubber provide great abrasion resistance, and have good cut and tear properties. SBR provides traction in the tire’s tread and offers cold-temperature resistance, which is why there’s more SBR rubber in winter tires.

So Many Materials, So Little Time

Butyl, EPDM, natural rubber, BR, and SBR are common types of rubber, but they’re not the only ones. Industrial rubber products such as seals, insulation, and hoses have different application requirements than tires. In turn, the rubber that’s used in the fuel hoses at gas stations isn’t recommended for use with medical or food processing equipment. Meanwhile, rubber chemists keep inventing new materials.

Most engineers don’t need to be rubber experts, but it helps to know something about rubber and resistance – and not just with regard to your vehicle’s tires. Consider chemical and temperature resistance, for example. Neoprene is a common synthetic rubber that resists water, acids, and bases. It also remains flexible over a wide temperature range. That’s why it’s in some automotive seat covers.

Choosing the Right Rubber

Choosing the right rubber can be challenging, but hopefully these automotive examples help. In addition to the materials mentioned above, engineers may need to specify nitrile rubber. Nitrile offers good fuel resistance, which is why it’s used in the hoses found at gas stations. There are two types of nitrile: NBR and HNBR. The latter is used for high-temperature applications.

Hypalon is another rubber you need to know about. Although it’s more expensive than other materials, Hypalon is inert. Along with good chemical resistance, it provides good weathering. If you live in a warm-weather climate, look for Hypalon at the base of water ponds or even reservoirs. Here in Quebec, all we can see on the water right now is snow and ice!

Specialized Materials

If tires could talk, they wouldn’t mention silicones. Yet our discussion wouldn’t be complete without addressing these highly-specialized materials. Silicone rubbers are used in medical equipment because they’re inert and clean. They’re also used in electrically-conductive EMI/RFI shielding, something that’s important to customers in the aerospace, defense, and electronics industries.

Then there are plasticizers used as flame retardants, processing aids, and to increase cold-temperature resistance. They come in oils and waxes, and are added to rubber compounds to impart specific properties. Rubber chemists have also created so many carbon blacks that there’s now a list as long as your arm. In addition to providing color, carbon blacks increase tensile strength and hardness.

How Can We Help You?

What questions do you have about rubber compounds and resistance? Do you need help choosing the right rubber for a product or project that you’re working on?  Talk to us today. Look for a post with a link to this blog entry on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. Elasto Proxy has pages on all of these social media websites, so all that’s missing is you.

I hope you’ll subscribe to our free e-newsletters as well. They’re a great source of information delivered right to your email inbox, and provide links to blog entries like this one.

Composite Materials: Lunch Is Served

Composite Materials
Composite materials can have a sandwich-like structure

Doug Sharpe
President of Elasto Proxy

What do composite materials have in common with lunch? Plenty, if you enjoy a sandwich for your mid-day meal. In material science, composites are made from two or more materials with different physical or chemical properties. Combining these ingredients forms a new substance with distinct, and hopefully superior, characteristics. Hungry for more information? Let’s step into the kitchen and make a few ham sandwiches.

Building in Layers

Some people like open-faced sandwiches because there’s fewer calories in one slice of bread than in two. Others prefer thicker sandwiches with three slices of bread, plenty of ham, and even some cheese and mayonnaise. No matter how you make your sandwich, the combination of layered ingredients produces a taste that’s different than any one ingredient alone. Yet you wouldn’t add jelly to a ham and cheese on wheat. Jelly provides flavor, of course, but it doesn’t complement the other ingredients.

The texture, calorie count, and nutritional value of sandwiches can differ, too. Does that mean a ham sandwich is better than a slice of bread? Is a triple-decker sandwich better than an open-faced one? The answer depends upon your application requirements for lunch. The triple-decker may taste better and provide more carbohydrates and protein, but the open-faced sandwich is probably the right choice if consuming fewer calories is your goal. Still, it’s unlikely you’d want to add jelly to either sandwich.

Sandwiches vs. Stews

If ordering lunch is this challenging, how can buyers select the right composite materials? Knowing your application requirements is important, but understanding this sandwich-like structure helps. Still, some buyers think that all composites have a stew-like structure instead. These so-called matrix materials do resemble a stew of sorts, perhaps one with bits of beef and potatoes “embedded” in a hearty broth. Yet just as stews can be served for lunch, they’re not the only items on the menu.

Sandwich-like composites satisfy the appetites of applications that require thermal insulation, acoustic insulation, and/or vibration dampening. These composites aren’t built with food, but consist of foams, fillers or barrier materials, and adhesives. Just as smoked ham tastes different than honey ham, foams made of ether, ester, and Triamid have different material properties. Just as you can make a sandwich with wheat or rye bread and mayo or mustard, you can choose different barriers, filler, and adhesives.

Meeting (Not Eating) Application Requirements

So what’s the “secret recipe” for building the perfect sandwich-like composite for your insulation application? Balancing all of your requirements is critical. Just as you wouldn’t add jelly to a ham and cheese sandwich, it’s essential to avoid epoxy adhesives if you need to meet requirements for flame, smoke, and toxicity (FST). Today, buyers in industries such as mass transit and aerospace often choose water-based adhesives instead of products that use toluene or heavy metals.

Striking a balance between strength, toxicity, and the use of “green” materials can be difficult, but it’s not the only challenge to overcome. What types of foam can you use? How many foam layers do you need? Do the barrier materials need to have a felt-like appearance, such as the headliner in a car? Do you need to bond the composite to a metal substrate and, if so, what is the metal’s thickness? If the prospect of designing a ham sandwich seems more appetizing, you’re not alone.

How Can We Help You?

Do you need to source composite materials for cars, tractors, or military transports? How about thermal insulation for engine compartments or acoustic insulation for the cabs of mobile specialty vehicles?  Let’s talk about how custom composites can meet your application requirements. For 25 years, Elasto Proxy has been solving challenges and providing solutions.

Join the conversation today. Look for a post with a link to this blog entry on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. Elasto Proxy has pages on all of these social media websites, so all that’s missing is you. I hope you’ll subscribe to our free e-newsletters as well. They’re a great source of information delivered right to your email inbox, and provide links to blog entries like this one.

Free Trade and Plastic Parts – The K Show Meets CETA

CETA

Doug Sharpe
President of Elasto Proxy

What is the German word for “plastics”? Yes, you can Google it – but you probably don’t need to if you attended last week’s K 2013 Trade Fair in Dusseldorf, Germany. From October 16 to 23, the K Show was the greatest place on earth to learn about innovations in kunstoffe (plastics). Held just once every three years, the world’s leading plastics event connected 3,000 companies with 220,000 visitors in the massive Messe Dusseldorf tradeshow center.

As the co-founders and co-owners of Elasto Proxy, Donna Sharpe and I met with potential supply chain partners who were eager to exchange ideas and explore business relationships. With its special focus on meeting the needs of the medical marketplace, the K Show allowed us to explain how Elasto Proxy supplies high-quality, low-to-medium volume quantities of custom-fabricated seals and insulation. From durable medical equipment to medical assist devices, medical plastics are in demand.

International Audiences and Auto Parts

Although many of the K Show’s participants came from Europe, nearly 60% were from outside Germany. Meanwhile, in neighboring Belgium, European Commission president Jose Manual Barroso was meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. After five years of bilateral negotiations, the two leaders agreed in principle to a Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) that could boost trade by an estimated 20% and add $12 billion to the Canadian economy.

If the K 2013 Trade Fair was big for the plastics industry, CETA could be huge. For example, according to a joint study, Canadian automakers would be able to export 100,000 cars a year – 12 times their current limit. As a custom fabricator of rubber and plastic parts for the auto industry, Elasto Proxy works with Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers whose operations cross continents. Will CETA lead European automakers to import more custom-molded parts from Canada?

Meeting European Demand

According to Plastics Europe, automotive applications (8.2%) are just one part of the continent’s overall demand for plastics. Packaging is the largest application sector at 39.4%, with building and construction a robust 20.3%. As a custom fabricator of seals for doors, windows, and skylights, Elasto Proxy wonders how the CETA agreement could affect exports of building and construction products. Will builders in Europe import more lighting fixtures, hatch covers, and rooftop HVAC units from Canada?

As the study from Plastics Europe also explains, the continent needs plastic parts for electronic and agricultural applications. Again, these are markets that our Canadian company has long-served. From enclosure gaskets to limit-stop rubber bumpers, our solutions providers have worked closely with the electronics industry to meet sealing challenges. Makers of mobile specialty vehicles such as tractors also need custom-fabricated parts for roll-over protection structures (ROPS).

Tradeshows and Trade Agreements

With K 2013 complete, the next K Trade Fair is three years away.  Will Canada and the European Union (EU) ratify the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) by then? Although some industries support CETA, others (such as Quebec cheesemakers) are strongly opposed. Where do you stand in the upcoming CETA debate? And how could the proposed free-trade agreement affect your industry?

Thermal Insulation and Acoustic Insulation for Military Vehicles and More

IED attacks, landmines, and mortar fire aren’t the only threats to military assets such as mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles. The big diesel engines that power these armored fighting machines generate large amounts of noise and heat. Military specifications limit the amount of noise exposure to occupants, and high heat from vehicle engines can damage components under the hood and make cab temperatures unbearable.

Acoustic and thermal insulation may not receive the attention of the latest weapons systems, but vehicle designers understand the damage that excessive heat and noise can cause. Along with vibration damping products such as shock absorbers and floor matting, military vehicles like the MRAP may also need impact-resistant insulation that’s shrapnel-proof.

Sound Insulation and Heat Insulation

Protecting personnel and equipment is a complex task, so defense contractors need partners who understand all of their requirements and can even help design new products. Depending upon the application, technical may need sound insulation, heat insulation, or both.

Acoustic insulation is usually made of polyethylene or polyester foams that allow sound waves to bounce off. These lightweight, sound-dampening materials may also include a sound-absorbing barrier. Most acoustic insulation has an open cellular structure that permits the passage of air, a good insulator. Closed cell acoustic foams are used mainly in underwater applications rather than land vehicles.

Thermal insulation is designed to absorb heat from a vehicle’s engine compartment and deflect heat away from the cab. Silicone, a durable synthetic resin, is often used because it resists high temperatures and provides acoustic insulation from high-decibel diesel engines. Self-extinguishing firestocks and custom composite insulation are also available.

Composite Panels and Civilian Applications

Thermal and acoustic insulation can be made of composite materials and formed into application-specific shapes and thicknesses. For example, thermal-proof panels made of ceramic fiber, polyurethane foam, and microcellular or silicone foam can provide heat shielding as high 1200° C in locomotives. By laminating multiple layers of insulating materials together, suppliers can build sandwich-like panels that are suitable for military or civilian applications.

Truckers also appreciate the benefits of high-quality insulation. Whether for long-haul trucking, construction site work, or local runs in a garbage truck, sound insulation is important. As with thermal insulation, sound insulating products can be color-matched to the vehicle. In commercial trucks, for example, a vinyl exterior may be applied to enhance the cab’s appearance.

Asking, Answering, and the Art of Sealing

pic_custom_fab

Doug Sharpe
President of Elasto Proxy

How well do you listen? Do you like to ask questions? When you have the information that you need, do you know what to do with it? Many people think that selling is all about talking. Yes, the ability to speak effectively is important. Salespeople need to write clearly, too, especially when it’s time to communicate instructions. But don’t underestimate the importance of asking for and analyzing answers.

Answers and Application Knowledge

Recently, a group of Elasto Proxy employees visited a Montreal-area restaurant with Andrew Yang, our sales representative in China. Before heading inside, I noticed a front-end loader. Although the operator of this mobile specialty vehicle was busy, he took the time to answer my questions about the door seals. We also talked about the noise, vibration, and overall comfort level inside his cab.

As a custom fabricator of industrial rubber products, Elasto Proxy provides sealing solutions to makers of on-road and off-road equipment. Every application is different, of course, so it’s important to listen to all of the requirements before offering recommendations. In the case of our front-end loader, asking a few questions allowed me to offer some advice about adjusting the floor mats.

Solutions Providers Instead of Salespeople

Several years ago, Elasto Proxy replaced its salespeople with solutions providers. In our Internet Age, there’s plenty of information on the Web – and few people like to be “sold to”. So what do managers, technical buyers, and product designers look for in a potential supplier? In short, they want a partner instead of a provider. By offering solutions instead of products, partners demonstrate commitment.

When I spoke with the operator of the front-end loader, I knew I wouldn’t sell him door seals or anti-vibration components on-the-spot. That wasn’t the point of our conversation. By learning about his user experience, however, I confirmed that the door seals on this particular type of vehicle leak. I also learned that mold under the rubber floor matting is problematic.

The Right Way to Start the Sales Process

In the future, I’ll use what I learned about this front-end loader in my conversations with other mobile specialty vehicle manufacturers. At the same time, I’ll also consider what I don’t know. For example, although I’ve specialized in rubber seals for many years, I don’t consider myself an expert in bearings. But when the operator and I spoke about vibrations and transmissions, I readily shared what I knew.

Asking questions and getting answers is part of the sales process. Applying what you’ve learned to the solutions you can provide is important, too. Just explaining your company’s capabilities is not enough, however. By taking the time to listen and learn, you’ll become a solutions provider instead of a product salesperson. For Elasto Proxy, the art of sealing begins with a question: How can we help you?