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The Most Commonly Used Gasket Materials & Why You Need Them All

Imagine this scenario….you get called into the office of your boss (or project engineer, purchasing manager, co-worker, etc.) and he (or she) asks (or tells) you to do some research and find the best gasket material you can for {insert application}. It needs to seal, have great recovery properties, stand up to high heat and scrubbing, and oh…it needs to not cost too much. You immediately sign on for the task and walk out of her (or his) office, go back to your computer, sit down and google.

You are feeling pretty confident (after all, you are a Google Master) and type in “gasket material”. As the results load and you start clicking through, your smile begins to fade. It seems like there are hundreds of different types of material and they all claim to seal, have great recovery properties, stand up to high heat and scrubbing and are a low cost.

Your task might not be as easy as you initially thought, but have no fear. You have stumbled across this blog post and we will get you moving in the right direction (we can’t do all of the work for you, but we’ll do what we can).

The most commonly used gasket materials can be listed as: fiber, rubber, metal, and composite laminates.

The first question you need to answer is – What are you trying to seal?

Let’s Talk Seals

FLUIDS: Sealing fluids generally is performed by rubber or fiber materials. Rubber comes in many forms (sheet, molded, O-rings, coatings, etc.)  Fiber is generally a sheet material that comes in many varieties depending on the factors of the joint. Composite materials can be a combination of rubber/fiber/metal generally a laminate suited for fluid sealing with a metal core for support.

GASES: Generally, exhaust applications and other gas sealing joints with high temperatures use metal or composite materials. These products resist degradation over time due to the heat exposure, flange motion and thermal cycles, and maintain a seal. Metal gaskets require very smooth flange conditions while composite products are more tolerant of rougher surfaces. In composites, the metal core provides support and, with tanged products, a mechanical bond. Composites also tend to be the most forgiving with flange flatness, surface irregularities, and varying flange loads.

Another question to ask – What are other details of the joint?

Let’s Talk Details

Other details to consider in a gasket material choice are: quantity and fabrication method. With small quantities, fabrication methods such as flash cutting, waterjet, and laser-cutting can be used in lieu of investing in a tool or die to cut parts.

Decisions, Decisions

As you can see, these gasket materials all have their strengths and weaknesses. Each of these materials excels in certain applications, so it is important not to get tunnel vision and try to use one type of material across all of your seal points just because “it worked really well for us in the past”.

We encourage you to talk to your gasket material manufacturer about all of these types of materials to aid you in your decision making process. If your preferred supplier doesn’t make a certain material, or is pushing  you into something that you aren’t certain is the right fit for you, don’t hesitate to shop around for your test material. The right material in the right application makes all the difference in performance.

As always, let us know if we can answer any questions for you!

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