Factors that Affect and Weaken Gasket Material Properties

05 February 2018

Inherently resilient, gaskets form lasting sealing components. Still, even this fluid-blockading property has its limits. That’s why manufacturers know so much about their wares. They collaborate with suppliers, talk to industry experts, and they know which gasket materials suit specific applications. On the flip side of that coin, there’s a corresponding dictate, a need to identify every factor that negatively impacts those materials.

Pinpointing Fluid Characteristics 

Fluids are remarkable substances. They transmit force, store pressure, change state, and provide fuel. They’re also corrosive. If the liquid is highly acidic or full of alkaline vitriol, the wet stuff will seek out a weak link. Oftentimes, that weak link is a gasket. Corrosive liquids erode seal faces. Likewise, high temperatures bake material rings until they turn brittle. Furthermore, pipes conduct thermal energy. If that large energy load propagates along the pipe, it’s going to soak the conduit flanges and generate a hot spot at the gasket face.

Finally, low temperatures also threaten flexible seals. Remember, these rings are often fabricated from pliable elastomers, rings of woven or pressed material that possess an inbuilt quantity of elastic pliability. If the temperature drops low inside a pipe, then that gasket will crack and fail because this elasticity rating has been compromised. Again, material brittleness wins out.

Quantifying internalised material weakening factors:

  • Corrosive fluids
  • Stored pressure
  • Thermal loading effects
  • System contaminants

Dealing with External Factors 

If the flexible rings aren’t installed properly, they can’t perform as specified. Simply put, if these seals aren’t fitted by expert engineers, then there’s no way to assure a reliable interface coupling, one that soundly locks the pipe flanges to the inserted gasket. Environmental effects are next on the agenda. Is this some offshore facility? Maybe it’s located out in the middle of a desert? Either way, the local elements will work their way into the pipe joints. Salty deposits, ultraviolet radiation, morning temperature rises and evening temperature drops, they all affect then weaken gasket materials, even when those seals are fabricated from large chunks of reinforced sealing stuff.

There are dynamic forces in play here, with pressure variables and temperature spikes making the biggest impact on the gaskets. Even when we’re not talking about pipes, perhaps because the application concerns a geometrically dense engine block, heat and pressure are the commonest forces in play. Applied in tandem, those two influences will weaken gaskets. Chemical variances are easier to accommodate, which is just as well since highly corrosive fluids can eat right through a mechanical seal. Lastly, external factors, including UV radiation and ozone, also weaken gasket materials.

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