Heavy-duty industrial piping systems require equally robust gaskets, so says engineering science. Look deep, the larger than life tubular conduits are conveying higher volumes, which are held at stunningly high pressures. Meanwhile, acids and harsh chemicals are attacking the pipe seals. To keep these forces safely in check, an aptitude for optimizing a chosen gasket, one designed to counterbalance these challenges, is considered a gold standard engineering strength.

Considering Torque Parameters 

Mechanics don’t throw new tyres on cars and begin indiscriminately tightening the ring of fasteners until they seem tight. Likewise, gasket installation procedures require special approaches. Torque charts are viewed and studied. Sequential bolt tightening patterns are applied all around the pipe flanges. Frankly, industrial piping is off-the-scale massive, so the adoption of these two load distributing practices will make sure the flange faces couple evenly with the interceding gasket.

Designed to Match Known Fluid Characteristics 

And just how many seal impacting forces are in play? Pipe geometry and dimensions are inherent, of course, so large cross-sectional areas incur larger fluid volumes. Then there are the properties of the fluid medium, which will directly influence gasket design. Low temperatures aren’t as material-abrasive as higher thermal loads. Still, ultra-low temperatures will cause brittleness and seal fractures. Then there are super concentrated acids and caustic chemicals to address. At the end of the day, industrial piping systems require gaskets that can handle extreme mechanical loading effects. Moreover, they must incorporate a material build that won’t fail when one of the above fluid characteristics tries its abrasive best to break down the selected gasket.

A Three-Factor Guide to Industrial Gasketing 

Material design is essential when we’re working with systems of industry-capable piping. However, material density isn’t the only relevant metric, so let’s skip up another rung on the gasketing applications ladder. Material suitability, as evaluated during the fluid medium management phase, is impacted by mechanical extremes, so traditional elastomeric solutions may not be enough. Composite material, fluoroelastomers, and fibrous substitutes operate alongside special laminates and metals to solve such issues. Factors one and two, therefore, are the material and mechanical features of the chosen gasket. Factor three, the dimensions of the seal, calls into action torque and bolt fastening patterns.

As a fourth gasket design and selection factor in industrial piping systems, we add Man’s influence. Preventative maintenance programs dovetail with gasket performance studies to assess the seal’s capabilities in specific operational case studies. This way, gasket design engineers can fine-tune their product families and ingrain the best possible fluid-restraining parameters into those essential flange sealing rings.

Expanded PTFE, also known as ePTFE, is a compressible gasketing material. During production, it’s stretched into sheets, with heat acting as a form expansion facilitator. The process endows the sheets with a tightly organized microstructure, a synthetic fluoropolymer base that’s a lot stronger than it looks. Used as a purpose-designed gasketing solution, the microscopic voids create a soft, irregular surface that suits a broadened number of applications.

Expanded ePTFE: A Transformation Guide 

Before going any further, let’s expand that acronym. PTFE gaskets use Polytetrafluoroethylene as chemically resistant and heat tolerant seals. Elevating the material range, ePTFE physically “expands” the synthetic polymer. During the production phase, the already durable gasketing stuff is exposed to mechanical stretching energy. Fabric-softening heat provides the second structure-transforming ingredient. It’s here that the PTFE transitions, it opens up physically and assumes a web-like structure, which is filled with countless voids.

Loaded with Material Properties 

Solid fluoropolymer nodes stretch into interconnected matrices. The expanded sheets are soft to the touch, and they’re very compressible. That’s a characteristic that any gasketing application can utilize. Moreover, this spongelike form is chemically obdurate, plus it can tolerate 250°C of baking hot heat or -240°C of arctic frost. To make gaskets that can take advantage of those twin properties, the rough and irregularly formed polymer base is layered into laminate strips. Now, with the ePTFE gasket positioned on a pipe flange, thousands of pounds of pressure can be applied. And, with the super-durable base matter capable of resisting the most caustic mediums, the seal won’t fail, not even when a chemical load flows with harsh corrosive impact.

Common Applications for Expanded PTFE 

Conforming to match the most geometrically intricate flange faces, all while displaying a superior strength-to-weight ratio, ePTFE gaskets are mechanically robust, yet they seem deceptively soft. Expect to see this attribute employed specifically in heat exchanger technology. Over at a high-pressure, highly acidic chemical processing plant, the expanded material is working flat-out to endure high pressures while it also packs a chemical-shielding punch. Food processing complexes or solvent-based production plants, the tough fluoropolymer-based gasketing solution will reliably generate a formidable seal.

Expanded PTFE is available as laminated gaskets or as gasket tape. The polymer base does feel deceptively soft and weak, but this sponge-like form conceals a strong matrice-exploded microstructure. Capable of enduring massive quantities of compressive flange-face stress, the seals will quickly conform to the desired seal profile while maintaining the features listed above. Look for glass-lined ePTFE products if even more sealing performance is called for from this synthetic gasketing solution.