When choosing a material to use for gaskets, many people opt for standard materials such as neoprene or silicone since they are readily available. While these materials may perform as desired for some applications, EPDM offers many favorable features and advantages when compared to other materials, making it an ideal gasket material.
EPDM Gasket 101
EPDM, or ethylene-propylene-diene monomer is a type of synthetic rubber that is used in many applications.
EPDM Gasket Material Properties
Ethylene and propylene are both hydrocarbons that remain in gaseous states at room temperature. When combined, they create polymers such as polyethylene and polypropylene, which remain solid. By controlling the polymerization process and adding the proper proportion of ethylene and propylene, it is possible to create EPDM.
The process of manufacturing EPDM creates long molecular chains that give the material its enhanced elastic properties. EPDM is unique among elastomers because it remains flexible at very low temperatures and can be formulated to withstand extremely high temperatures. The material is also resistant to oxidation and the aging effects of ultraviolet light.
EPDM possesses superior mechanical properties. It has a tensile strength ranging from 7 to 21 MPa, making it stronger than silicone, which has a tensile strength of 5 and 10 APa; nitrile, which is between 12 and 15 MPa; and neoprene, which is between 5 and 8 MPa.
EPDM rubber gaskets are more resistant to wear from abrasion and are formulated to resist harsh chemicals such as acids and alkalis. EPDM gasket material is ideal for applications involving hydrocarbon oils and petroleum products, which typically produce swelling in many other gasket materials. It’s stability and heat-resistant properties also make it suitable for applications using steam.
EPDM rubber gaskets offer a variety of benefits when compared to other rubber gasket materials. They can withstand harsh environmental conditions and are designed to provide reliable, long-lasting sealing capabilities over a wide range of temperatures from -60° F to 300° F.
EPDM gaskets offer good electrical insulation and are highly resistant to wear, ultraviolet light, aging, wind, weather, and ozone. They are also color-stable and won’t stain mating surfaces.
EPDM gaskets are manufactured from solid, sponge, or foam rubber materials. Each type of material has a unique molecular structure enabling EPDM gaskets to possess physical properties, such as hardness and chemical resistance, to meet the specifications of many applications. EPDM gaskets are categorized by grades such as commercial, peroxide-cured, UL 94 flame-retardant, and FDA-approved.
EPDM Gasket Applications
EPDM is a strong, durable, and cost-effective option that offers superior performance for use in many applications, including:
Outdoor. Since EPDM gaskets are able to withstand extreme temperature fluctuations, water, and UV rays, they are ideal for use in outdoor applications.
Industrial gaskets perform simple, but critical functions in many industries. Though most gaskets are relatively low cost, they are not necessarily interchangeable between applications. Choosing the right material can impact the gasket’s performance and longevity, ultimately reducing maintenance, replacement, and downtime costs. Silicone is a common high-performance material used for various applications, but an ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) gasket is often a superior choice for specific situations.
Properties and Applications of EPDM and Silicone Rubber
Silicone and EPDM each have value in specific applications. Understanding the properties and capabilities of each material will help to ensure selection of the best material for the job.
Silicone rubber is a high-performance polymer consisting of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and silicone. Silicone rubber is known for its exceptional resistance to extremely high and low temperatures. The material offers additional benefits for gaskets because of its excellent tensile strength, elongation, tear strength, and compression set. Silicone also provides outstanding resistance to chemicals, ozone, water, fire, and aging.
Additionally, silicone rubber is resistant to fungal growth and is considered a sterile material suitable for use in the food and beverage industry. Silicone rubber gaskets have a long life span, which means savings on replacement costs and less equipment downtime. The versatility of silicone rubber makes it ideal for a broad range of applications, and it is used extensively across many industries.
EPDM is created by adjusting the proportions of ethylene and propylene when manufacturing solid polymers like polyethylene and polypropylene. By controlling the polymerization process and regulating the formulation, long molecular chains are created, enhancing EPDM’s rubbery characteristics.
The material’s tensile strength is higher than silicone and most other polymers, and it is highly resistant to abrasion. EPDM is a very stable material that can be formulated to remain flexible at extreme temperatures. It also features excellent resistance to heat and oxidation and withstands the effects of ozone and UV rays. While oils and petroleum products cause EPDM to swell, the material has excellent steam resistance and resistance to nearly all acids and alkalis.
EPDM’s ability to function at low temperatures and its resistance to water, sunlight, and harsh weather conditions, make it ideal for many outdoor gasket applications. Its good compression set enables it to recover well in applications where a joint may open up occasionally, and its high electrical resistance makes it suitable for some electrical applications.
+130 °C to -40 °C
+230 °C to -60 °C
Choosing the Right Material for Your Gasket
While gaskets are a relatively inexpensive component, choosing the right gasket material for your application is critical. Gasket failures often occur due to the wrong choice of material for the environment. When deciding whether to choose silicone rubber or EPDM as a gasket material, many factors must be considered, including:
Chemical, UV, and ozone resistance
Get More Information on Gasket Materials
At Custom Gasket Manufacturing, our team of engineers and experts consult with you to understand your unique application’s needs. With intimate knowledge of your requirements, our team can provide the expertise needed to choose the gasket material that will offer the greatest lifespan and minimize equipment downtime.
Gaskets are mechanical seals that fill the space between the mated surfaces of two or more joined components to prevent fluid from escaping or entering the assembly. They are available in numerous materials, each of which offers unique characteristics that make it suitable for different sealing applications. One of the most common materials used for gaskets is neoprene.
The following blog post provides an overview of neoprene gasket material, outlining its properties, types, and grades available, and typical applications.
Properties of Neoprene Gasket Material
Neoprene—also referred to by the generic name polychloroprene—is a synthetic rubber manufactured by polymerizing chloroprene. It demonstrates several characteristics that make it suitable for gasketing applications, such as:
Elasticity and flexibility. These characteristics allow the material to fit snugly within the gaps between components, forming a fluid-tight seal.
Strength and durability. The material exhibits a tensile strength ranging from 900–1,000 PSI (depending on the exact formulation). It also resists damage and degradation stemming from abrasion, chemicals, combustion, grease and oil, oxidation, ozone, sunlight, temperature, water, and weather. These characteristics make it a high-performance, low-cost sealing solution for many applications.
Types of Neoprene
Neoprene gasket material is available in several formulations, grades, and forms. The four main types of neoprene are closed-cell, open-cell, diaphragm, and homogenous (solid). They are available in several variations, each of which has different strength, density, hardness, and other material properties. Thicknesses generally range 1/64” and 2” inches.
Some of the most common grades include:
Flame retardant neoprene
Applications of Neoprene Gasket
The broad selection of neoprene makes it easy for industry professionals to find an appropriate material option for nearly any sealing application. The various types of neoprene exhibit different characteristics that suit them for use in different situations. For example:
Closed-cell neoprene features individually encapsulated cells. This structure allows the material to resist air, dirt, and moistures, allowing it to absorb, dampen, and insulate shock, sound, and vibration.
Diaphragm neoprene features polyester reinforcement, which enables it to withstand exposure to high pressures and oil- and petroleum-based compounds.
Homogenous (solid) neoprene offers decent resistance to oil and ozone. As such, it is often used for automotive gasket and flange applications.
Some of the general applications for neoprene gaskets include doors and windows, hydraulic systems, and pumps.
Custom Neoprene Gasket and Seal Solutions at Custom Gasket Mfg.
At Custom Gasket Manufacturing, we specialize in the design and manufacture of custom gasket, seal, and insulation product solutions. One of our core product offerings is neoprene rubber gaskets and seals.
Our neoprene gaskets and seals are precision die cut or molded to accommodate the needs of various industries and industrial applications. We offer a variety of material options in different grades, thicknesses, and material hardness levels.
Our die cutting capabilities allow us to produce gaskets and seals from neoprene material ranging from 1/64”–3/8” inches in thickness and 30–90 durometer in hardness. Die cut gaskets and seals are available with or without pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) backing.
Our molding capabilities allow us to produce gaskets and seals from neoprene compounds between 40 and 90 durometer in hardness. While neoprene rubber is generally black, we offer custom color compounding services upon customer request. Whether we produce gaskets and seals through compression molding, transfer molding, or rubber injection molding, we always comply with the RMA A2 precision tolerance standard of the rubber molding industry.
Gaskets are simple yet essential elements of industrial systems, providing a seal between components of pipes and mechanical assemblies. As important as it is to tightly link surfaces like pipe faces, it’s impossible to manufacture perfectly smooth junctions and corrosion can introduce new aberrations over time. Gaskets help to maintain a seal between components, ensuring consistent and efficient performance under a variety of operating conditions.
In this guide, we discuss the critical design considerations for gaskets, including:
A gasket is a flat component designed to seal two larger mechanical components against one another. Gaskets vary widely in form, ranging from simple O-rings to complex custom designs with multiple openings of different shapes. Regardless of these variables, most gaskets are designed to seal pipes and prevent leaks. Other functions might include dampening sound and vibration or maintaining appropriate compression levels within a system.
Different gasket materials function according to different principles, but the general idea is that a gasket is made from a more deformable material than the components it seals. This material might be an elastomer or simply a metal with lower yield strength. As a result, when the gasket is placed, it molds into any surface irregularities to provide a tight seal.
Different Types of Gaskets and Gasket Materials
Gaskets come in many different styles to suit different industrial environments. Different shapes, thicknesses, and combinations of openings allow gaskets to fit between any two faces. The gaskets might be formed from rubber, cork, felt, fiber, or another material entirely, depending on the characteristics of the mechanical system.
Die-cutting is one of the most versatile techniques used in gasket manufacturing, allowing suppliers to cut precise openings in the gasket for a close custom fit.
Steel rule die-cutting is one of the most common techniques for achieving exactly the desired gasket shape. In steel rule die-cutting, the supplier works in collaboration with the client to determine the specifications of the final gasket. The supplier then creates a steel template to match the product, feeding it into a flatbed die-cutting machine. The machine punches the rubber, plastic, or other material into the shape of the steel guide, resulting in uniform, consistent gaskets at high or low volumes.
Rotary cutting uses a cylindrical die on a rotating press. As the machine rotates, the die cuts through the material to form the gaskets.
Kiss cutting is specifically used when the design calls for an adhesive backing, which is sometimes necessary to provide the proper seal. In kiss cutting, the die merely perforates a top layer, allowing the adhesive gaskets to be peeled off of their backing.
Die-cutting is the best choice for gaskets with complicated configurations and cut-outs, but it can also be successfully used to recreate simpler designs. Most die cutting processes are compatible with virtually all common gasket materials, making it possible to achieve a whole range of physical properties, including features like shielding or high-temperature resistance. An experienced gasket manufacturer will determine which specific technique is most likely to be successful given your design’s material, shape, and use case.
Die-cutting is often used to create the following gasket types, among others:
Rubber gaskets are some of the most common, yet most diverse gasket categories. Some of these components are die-cut, especially when working with thinner sheets. However, a number of common 3D gasket configurations require the use of rubber molding or extruding processes. For instance, the thick, layered gaskets used to seal bell jars are typically created using rubber molding rather than die-cutting. In general, if the gasket contains design elements that aren’t flat and uniform, rubber molding or extruding may be necessary.
It’s important to note that rubber is not a single material, but instead a broad category of elastomers with different physical characteristics. Industrial clients should consider any necessary corrosion and temperature resistance properties and select a rubber accordingly.
Choosing the best gasket for your project requires a close collaboration between your design team and your supplier. The material is among the most important considerations, as it will determine the gasket’s durability under your specific operating conditions. Some industries must also contend with specific regulations, such as those dictating appropriate food-grade rubbers. The shape of the gasket is slightly more straightforward and is determined by the shape of the surrounding mechanical components. Of course, variables such as material thickness are also important and should be considered in collaboration with the supplier’s engineering team.
Gasket Applications and Industries
Any industry that works with piping, whether for gas or liquid, is familiar with the need for appropriate gaskets. Gaskets are situated in systems ranging from heavy-duty manufacturing equipment to household plumbing and valves.
Industries that commonly require custom gaskets include:
Custom Gasket’s Design and Manufacturing Solutions
Custom Gasket Manufacturing specializes in the design and production of high-quality, industry-specific gaskets. We partner with clients to determine the most appropriate materials and methods for any given project, with capabilities including:
Die-cutting.Custom Gasket has the experience and equipment necessary to process die-cutting orders in volumes ranging from prototypes to high-volume production runs. Working with all non-metallic gasket materials, we strive to meet your every blueprint and tolerance specification.
Flash cutting.Flash cutting machines use a die-less, oscillating knife to carve components from a sheet. We use flash cutting to quickly and accurately replicate intricate gasket designs, replicating cuts of various depths and shapes to achieve both cuts and creases. Our fully automated systems ensure production runs with good finishes and few defects.
Laser cutting.Requiring no tooling, laser cutting allows clients to quickly receive components with tolerances up to +/- 0.002″. As such, laser cutting is appropriate for both low- and high-volume production runs. Our laser cutting systems achieve intricate designs with no compression distortion and no tooling delays.
Waterjet cutting. Waterjet cutting makes it easy to achieve complex and intricate parts with no tooling and no compression distortion. Waterjet cutting machines use a high-powered stream of water as the cutting implement, making the process ideal for cutting applications that can’t tolerate heat from lasers or blades. Waterjet cutting cuts through more layers than die-cutting while producing fewer defects.
Custom Gasket Manufacturing also offers custom rubber molding and extrusion services for more complicated, 3D geometries.
Why Custom Gasket Manufacturing?
Custom Gasket Manufacturing has built our reputation on high-performance gaskets, competitive pricing, on-time delivery, and unparalleled customer service. We work with our clients through the entire design and manufacturing process to ensure that the results surpass expectations. To learn more about our proven sealing capabilities, contact us or request a quote today.