Just like the sports teams that occupy the same city, but split our allegiances (Cubs vs. White Sox, Jets vs. Giants, Lakers vs. Clippers), we find ourselves in the middle of our very own rivalry on the same turf….Composite vs. Multi-Layer Steel (MLS). However, in this case, the winners don’t get bragging rights for the next year. The winner is YOU when the gasket material and design YOU have chosen or suggested for the application seals like it needs to. Everyone wants to be a winner, don’t they?
Over the past few years, we have seen a lot of people become enamored with MLS and jump on the bandwagon. The gaskets are a newer technology, they are sleek, cost effective, and they typically perform. Here at Metal Tech Industries, we have made the decision to continue with composite material because 1) it is a tried and true technology (we’ve proven it for the last 21 years and counting), 2) it meets the requirements of any high-heat/high-pressure application and 3) we believe that we are one of the best in the world at manufacturing metal-reinforced gasket material. If composite didn’t work and wasn’t still relevant, we wouldn’t still be here today.
Whether you are someone that has been a fan of MLS for awhile, or someone who has been a loyal fan of composite but just needs a reminder about why you’ve stuck with it for so long, here are the reasons you should (or still should) consider composite material the next time you need gasket material.
1. Conformance: The key reason for selecting composite gasket materials is their ability to seal under less-than-ideal flange conditions. And, let’s face it, no flange is perfect. Conformance makes up for variations in flange stiffness, surface finish, deformation, deflection, etc.
2. Cost: First and foremost, be sure to look at the total cost of the design, not just part cost. Typically, the overall cost of a composite solution is less than MLS designs. Machining costs must also be considered. Unlike MLS, flanges need not be mirror-smooth, as composites actually work better when there is some roughness to conform to. Machining costs can be reduced when using composite gasket materials. (Keep reading for more cost considerations…)
3. Small quantity solutions: Cost of fabrication of the parts must be considered. In small quantities, parts can be easily cut by various methods (such as flash-cutting, waterjet, or laser-cutting). Steel-rule-die tooling is also inexpensive for a short quantity run and can be made to cut the metal core products.
4. Large quantity solutions: Matched steel tooling can be designed to run high volume parts. Composite products can be made in slit coils, making production simple with a high speed, automated line, thus keeping costs down.
5. History: Composition products such as graphite/tang core laminates have an excellent history of long term sealing performance. The metal core provides durability and stability for handling, assembly, and long term performance in the sealed joint. Factors such as bolt load retention also improved with this type of product.
Do You Have To Pick One Team?
There is not one single material that you can use that will meet all of your sealing needs. See our blog post “The Most Commonly Used Gasket Materials & Why You Need Them All”. There is a place for MLS and there is definitely still a place for composite in designing your application. You just need to be aware of the benefits each material has to offer, and use that knowledge. You can absolutely consider both composite and MLS for an application. (We promise – your friends won’t make fun of you for being a fair weather fan!)
Until next time!