What is an elastomer gasket used for?

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Elastomer, also known as rubber, is a polymer material used in the manufacture of gaskets. It is elastic and has many properties, such as excellent resistance to numerous deformations before breaking. Depending on geometries and blends, elastomeric seals are both chemically and physically resistant, and are therefore regularly used in industry. Find out what an elastomer seal is, what it’s used for, and what materials it’s made from.

What is an elastomer seal?

Before you know what an elastomer seal is for, it’s essential to understand what it is. An elastomer gasket is a natural or artificial polymer part with elastic and watertight properties for joining two parts. This elastic polymer seal is designed to withstand the most extreme conditions of use, and is highly resistant to temperature and fluids. A wide range of elastomer seals are available on the market.

What are the different types of elastomer and their materials?

Different types of elastomer exist and are manufactured to cover all industrial applications. This high-strength elastic seal can be made from a variety of materials. The most widely used elastomer material is nitrile or NBR. Here are the different materials used to manufacture this type of seal:

  • Nitrile gasket (NBR)
  • Ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) gasket
  • Styrene-butadiene gasket (SBR)
  • Natural gas ket (NR)
  • Butyl gas ket (IIR)
  • Polychloroprene gas ket (CR)
  • Silicone gas ket (VMQ)
  • Hypalon gas ket (CSM)
  • Polyvinyl chloride and cellular gas ket (PVC)
  • FPM Viton gas ket (FKM)
  • Linatex gas ket (red industrial or white FDA)
  • Polyurethane gas ket (PUR)
  • Chloroprene (CR) gasket

What is the role of the elastic polymer gasket?

The main role of the elastomer gasket is its resistance to liquid products, such as dilute alkalis and acids, seawater, alcohols, chlorine, solvents, acetates, detergents, oils, gasolines, caustic soda, ketonics, and many others. Manufacturers can use this compact rubber gasket when they need high resistance to compression, traction, breakage, bending or wear. Its remarkable elasticity enables it to return to its basic shape once the stress has been released. The device can withstand significant deformation without degrading, absorb vibrations and shocks, and can also be molded into a variety of shapes. This polymer material is widely used for anti-vibration mounts. Elastic polymer seals are also used to withstand extreme climatic conditions and temperatures, such as compressed air, low-pressure steam, heat, ozone, electricity and ultraviolet (UV) rays. Some elastomers, like conventional rubber, can withstand temperatures of up to 80°C. Special or very special rubbers are designed to withstand temperatures between 150°C and 250°C.

Characteristics of compact rubber seals

Here are the different characteristics of compact rubber seals:

  • Viscoelastic: the elastomer has viscous and elastic properties, such as slow flow under stress and return to normal joint shape ;
  • Flexibility and low-stress deformation: elastomer seals have a low Young’s modulus (a measure of a material’s rigidity). They are therefore flexible products that can be deformed;
  • Three-dimensional cross-linking structure: the vulcanized elastomer seal (treatment of the material with sulfur) features chemical bonds that are crossed between the various polymer chains and have the ability to form a cross-linking structure. It is this characteristic that makes it elastic.
  • High elasticity: the deformations that joints designed with a polymer can undergo are up to more than 100% of their original shape, without suffering any degradation.
  • Hardness: depending on the application, elastomers can be soft or harder. When heated, they are malleable and harden when cooled;
  • Longevity: these polymers extend the life of products, as they have excellent resilience to various mechanical stresses;
  • Resistance to fra cture: such a gasket is able to resist fracture, so it is used to design mechanical parts subjected to extreme forces.

How are elastomer seals used in industry?

Elastomer seals are used in a wide range of industrial applications:

  • Construction: to make buildings safer and more durable, the construction industry uses this product as a soundproofing material, expansion joint, anti-vibration mountings, etc. ;
  • Automotive: elastomers can be used to manufacture seals, tires, suspension parts and silent blocks. The automotive sector uses this polymer to absorb shocks and vibrations;
  • Medical: watertight and elastic seals are also used to manufacture medical devices, such as rubber tubing for transfusions and silicone implants;
  • Aerospace: to ensure space missions, industries use polymer gaskets to achieve thermal protection, resistance to extreme conditions, as well as watertightness ;
  • Electronics: elastomer gaskets are also used to seal sensitive electronic equipment;
  • Chemical industry: manufacturers in this category handle aggressive chemicals and turn to fluorinated elastomers for their exceptional resistance.