Foam Rubber Gaskets for Long-Term Sealing

Video: Foam Rubber Gaskets
Video: Foam Rubber Gaskets

Effective long-term sealing with foam rubber gaskets is a function of compression set and stress relaxation. Learn what these material properties are, why they matter, and how to select the right sponge profiles for custom gaskets under compressive loads. Then, download the Sealing Essentials Guide.

Foam rubber gaskets provide reliable sealing, cushioning, and insulation in a variety of applications. Products designers and technical buyers can choose sponge profiles made from many different types of foam, and compound selection can be a complex task. In addition to material properties and compliance with industry or regulatory standards, there are many other factors to consider. For example, long-term sealing under constant compression is required for some industrial applications.

Let’s take a look at two material properties, compression set and stress relaxation, which you may need to consider carefully when choosing foam rubber gaskets for compressive loads. We’ll also look at some common foam rubber materials. Elasto Proxy isn’t a rubber compounder, but we want you to understand how the rubber that’s used in the sponge profiles you ask us to custom-fabricate can affect long-term sealing performance. We keep hundreds of foam rubber profiles in stock, but which one is right for you?

Continue reading Foam Rubber Gaskets for Long-Term Sealing

Extruded Rubber Profiles for Custom Seals and Gaskets

Video - Extruded Rubber Profiles
Click to Watch the Video

Learn how extruded rubber profiles are made, and how custom fabrication converts elastomeric stock materials into specialty seals and custom gaskets. Click here for Elasto Proxy’s catalog of standard profiles.

Rubber extrusion is a manufacturing process that creates stock materials or profiles with a fixed cross-section such as a U-shaped channel. First, uncured elastomers are pushed or drawn through a specialized metal tool called a die. Later, the rubber compound is cured through vulcanization, a chemical conversion process that uses heat and sulfur to impart durability and improve mechanical properties.

Rubber extrusion is used with many different types of elastomers, and this rubber manufacturing method supports complex cross-sectional profiles with an excellent surface finish. Because extrusion mixes and blends the raw materials, the cured rubber offers consistent strength and a uniform appearance along the length of the profile. Standards from the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) define part tolerances based on physical dimensions and an RMA class of high precision, precision, or commercial. Continue reading Extruded Rubber Profiles for Custom Seals and Gaskets

Custom Gaskets Speed Production and Reduce Costs

Custom Gasket Kit

Doug Sharpe
President of Elasto Proxy

Ready-to-install rubber gasketing speeds production, cuts labor costs, and reduces material waste. As we learned in our recent Make It or Buy It? series, it’s critical to consider custom fabrication in light of your manufacturing overhead (MOH) and opportunity costs. By choosing rubber gaskets that are ready right out-of-the-box, your installers can attach seals quickly, easily, and accurately. By partnering with a custom fabricator who delivers on your needs, you can also strengthen your industrial supply chain.

As a global supplier of specialty sealing solutions, Elasto Proxy provides bonded gaskets, spliced gaskets, and molded gaskets to a variety of industries. Instead of tightening screws or performing time-consuming cutting operations, production personnel install custom-fabricated components that come pre-cut, labeled, and with a removable plastic liner and pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA). From gasket design and custom fabrication to logistics and shipments, Elasto Proxy supports your company’s operations.

Gasket Design and Custom Fabrication

Elasto Proxy helps solve a wide range of sealing challenges. Some partners submit 3D CAD files and ask our sealing specialists to design and extrude custom gaskets. Others save time and money by choosing bonded gaskets, spliced gaskets, and molded gaskets that we keep in stock, and that require more limited custom fabrication. With our fast, efficient water jet cutting capabilities, Elasto Proxy can cut gaskets to size with speed and precision – and without the tooling costs associated with die cutting.

By keeping hundreds of rubber profiles in stock, Elasto Proxy can also offer quick turn-around times to meet the most demanding prototyping and production schedules. In addition to water jet cutting, our custom fabrication capabilities include film splicing, cold bonding, C-press injection molding, and vulcanizing. If taping is right for your application, our solutions providers may suggest either PSA or HATS, a high-bond tape that adheres well to automotive paints and plastics.

Logistics and On-Time Shipments

Elasto Proxy can supply custom-fabricated gaskets in limited quantities at first, and then increase deliveries as production scales-up. With warehouses in Canada and the United States, we can also store your ready-to-ship rubber parts and then send them according to your sales forecast, or on-demand. Just-in-time (JIT) deliveries reduce the amount of goods and materials that you hold in inventory, and support your lean manufacturing efforts.

Do you need help sourcing custom gaskets? Would you like to learn more about the value of custom fabrication, too? For 25 years, Elasto Proxy has been working with partners in a variety of industries to solve sealing challenges. By listening to all of your requirements and analyzing all of your needs, our solutions providers can recommend sealing solutions that are right for your application.

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.

Make It or Buy It? Part 2: Opportunity Costs

Can You Find Your Opportunity Costs?
Can You Find Your Opportunity Costs?

Doug Sharpe
President of Elasto Proxy

In Part 1 of this blog series, we considered manufacturing overhead (MOH) costs – and how failing to account for them can cause companies to produce parts in-house even when outsourcing is more cost-effective. By adding these indirect costs to direct labor and direct materials, however, you can capture all of your expenses and make more informed buying decisions. Yet there’s another type of “cost” that doesn’t appear on your general ledger. Ultimately, it’s related to productivity – and quality.

What are Opportunity Costs?

Opportunity costs are the loss of a potential gain when you choose one option instead of another. For example, let’s say that your factory has four machines. All can do the same type of work, but the fourth machine can perform some additional, higher-value operations. If you’ve allocated all of your equipment to running lower-profit jobs, you can’t use Machine #4 to complete a higher-profit job that requires its advanced machine functions. The lost profit differential is your opportunity cost.

Did you know that opportunity costs can apply to personnel, too? For example, let’s say that a welder who normally makes $35/hour is cutting rubber profiles into gaskets, a task that could be performed by an employee who makes $20/hour. Even if the welder didn’t having any welding to do, your opportunity cost is $15/hour, the difference between the higher and lower pay rates. The more time that the welder spends cutting rubber instead of joining metal, the greater your opportunity costs.

Productivity Meets Quality

Some readers may argue that it’s better for a welder to cut gaskets than to remain idle. Yet that doesn’t change the fact that the welder’s higher pay rate is now part of the job’s higher overall costs. There’s also the possibility that relying on this welder for gasket cutting means that a second welder must now work overtime (at an even higher rate) because the first welder is unavailable. As skilled as both welders are at metalworking, neither specializes in gasket cutting.

By contrast, a gasket fabricator’s equipment does all of the work for you – and to your precise specifications every time. If your workers are cutting gaskets by hand, is the quality of work on Monday morning the same as on Wednesday afternoon? Does it vary by shift? Using a template and utility knife to do the job of a water jet cutting machine is just part of the challenge. Even if splicing goes smoothly, the gasket still must be installed.

By outsourcing gasket fabrication, you can find out-of-the-box sealing solutions that are cut-to-fit and ready-to-install every time. Just remove the gasket from the box and install it on the assembly line. There’s no cutting or splicing involved, and no special training or tooling required.  Workers can install more gaskets per hour, or complete an installation and then perform other duties that add value to your operations. Outsourced, fully-finished gaskets can perform better, too.

Quality Meets Sales

Would you buy a new car with a door that didn’t shut securely? If you were in the market for heavy equipment, would you invest in a half-million dollar machine where the gasketing hung off the door frame? First impressions matter – and you may not get a second chance.  If a car’s door doesn’t shut properly, a buyer may discount assertions that the automobile is well-designed. If a gasket is hanging from a door frame, a buyer may doubt claims about low maintenance costs for mobile specialty vehicles.

Losing the sale isn’t the only way that gasket failure can hurt a company’s bottom line. Let’s say that you’re a manufacturer of food equipment, and one of your customers is a chain with hundreds of stores nationwide. What’s the cost of replacing defective oven seals at every location? If your designers correctly diagnose the problem, do your production personnel have the tools and training to fabricate the replacement seals in-house? Who will do their jobs while they’re busy with re-work?

Skeptics may claim that buyers don’t pay much attention to door seals, or that gasket failure is unlikely. Remember, however, that opportunity costs are only one part of picture. What do the manufacturing overhead costs that we examined in Part 1 of this blog series tell you? Are you ready to reconsider whether in-house manufacturing is really more cost-effective than outsourcing?

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.

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.

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.