How Thick Does Your Gasket Need to Be? Here Are 4 Ways to Know For Sure.

Have you ever been sitting around in a meeting room talking about how thick a gasket should be for your application? There were probably a few differing opinions on the subject, but we’re willing to bet at least one person said “How thick can we make it? In my opinion, the thicker we can make it, the better it will seal.” If there wasn’t someone with gasket experience in the room, you all may have headed down that path and designed one heck of a gasket!

Believe it or not, sometimes a thinner gasket is exactly what you need in your application. There is a place for all thicknesses, just like there is a place for all types of gasket materials. Throughout your design and testing process, the engineering team needs to figure out what will work best for your application.

How Thick Does My Gasket Need To Be?

To help you dial in on where you need to be for your application, we put together a short list of considerations to aid in your decision making process.

1. What is the flange load and desired compression?

2. What is the flange condition: stiffness, flatness, surface finish, expected deflection?

3. What imperfections or warpage/deformation do you see (or expect to see) when hot?

4. What is the user preference and perception about the thickness of the gasket?

Generally, the thinnest gasket you can use is going to be the best option. “Thin” will minimize compressibility while providing better load retention and recovery properties. However, when faced with these four considerations, gaskets must be made thicker to compensate for these factors. Gaskets are made thicker to accommodate flanges that deflect and warp, rougher surface or non-flat flanges, etc. In some engine applications, there have been soft, compressible gaskets used up to 0.250” thick or more! Designer preference can also play a role here, as many engine applications tend to be 1/16” gaskets as the best compromise of “thick vs. thin”.

Test It Out

Once you decide the thickness you want to start testing with, you may find that you need to adjust your gasket material selection based on the results. Testing is really the only way to tell if something truly is going to work, but with enough experience, a great gasket material supplier can get you as close as anyone! Knowing the materials inside and out is our business.

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7 Ways to Protect Against Gasket Blowouts

The fall guy…defined by the Urban Dictionary as “a person who is left with the blame for a crime, regardless of whether they were involved or not”. In our world, the fall guy is the lowly gasket. Too many times, gaskets tend to be an afterthought in the design process, BUT the gasket (or the material) is the first to be blamed if there are ever any problems in the application. If you are currently designing (or may ever design) an application that has gasketed joints, or are currently in the middle of troubleshooting (or may ever troubleshoot) because of a leak in a joint, this week’s post is for you!

Over the years, we have just about seen it all. We’ve been a part of varying stages of design projects….at times we’ve almost been a part of the design team, lending our expertise to help ensure success once the gasket is cut, and other times we come in at the tail end to suggest a material that will meet your exact specifications. We’ve also been the firefighters…driving in on our big red truck with hoses spraying (ok, not really…) to offer a gasket material solution when everything else you’ve tried isn’t working. Blame it on the design of the joint, blame it on the design of the gasket, blame it on the material, blame it on the rain….regardless, there are potential problems lurking everywhere and we’re here to help you navigate some of those issues. Everyone’s time (and money) is valuable and we want you to be educated and aware of what can be done to minimize your chances of a gasket blowout.

What You Need To Know

Protecting your product launch and the application from the damage a gasket blowout can cause is your #1 priority in design (or redesign). Nobody wants a gasket to be the reason a project can’t launch as planned. Like we mentioned above, your gasket may be the culprit, but the issue might also be something else entirely. Here are 7 things to consider to help protect your application from gasket blowouts.

  1. Material choice: Designers must use caution to select a material that is suited for the operating conditions, including temperature, pressure, fluid resistance, durability (for handling), durability (in service), aging characteristics, and other factors.
  2. Temperature: Consider the peak exposure, and choose material capable of withstanding that level of exposure.
  3. Pressure: Sealing joints that are holding back high pressure need to have a gasket with reinforcement to provide radial strength. Be sure to choose reinforced material for high pressure joints.
  4. Flange loading: Flanges are critical pieces of the bolted joint. Consideration must be given to: flange flatness, surface finish, stiffness, material (expansion), preparation, and others.
  5. Assembly: Joints must be assembled properly to recommended torque values and sequence. Often with compressible products, a second round of final torque once operating temperature has been achieved is also helpful to maintain load over long term service.
  6. Protection: Some gaskets exposed to extreme conditions can benefit by additional protection which shields the gasket body from destructive conditions. Heat flow, fluid erosion, and other “wear effects” can be protected against by flange rings, embossments, coatings, and other protective measures.
  7. Thickness: Generally speaking, the thinnest gasket you can use is the best choice. Thickness gets increased to compensate for flange conditions or other factors. Thinner gaskets have less chance for blowout than thick ones since the load is concentrated over less volume, providing higher shear strength to prevent blowout.

Go Forth

We love a good gasket blowout picture – send us yours and we just might feature it in an upcoming article.

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