Gasket Material Traceability: Definition and Importance

31 May 2016

Most engineering labels submit to a little common sense. We can even take shortcuts by splitting the term up and tackling each word, one at a time. That’s not going to work here, unfortunately, so let’s get to the meat of the matter and skip the preamble; gasket material traceability isn’t a phrase that will easily divulge its secrets to this simple shortcut, not unless we have a ready-to-submit description.

What is Gasket Material Traceability?

First of all, before attempting to solve a terminological puzzle, we should take this opportunity to emphasize the essential functions of a gasket. Pipes carrying pressurized steam are only as strong as the material inserted between flange surfaces, for instance. Similarly, the same principle applies to automotive systems and larger vehicles, to high-pressure mechanical power transmission assemblies and other scenarios where these mechanical seals are absolutely required. A traceability feature, one added to a gasket, provides material reinforcement, but it’s a virtual form of reinforcement. The code or documentation associated with the seal acts as a biography, one that forms a thread-like bond all the way back to the manufacturing plant where the component was initially fabricated.

Traceability as a Compliance Mechanism

In attaching a train of detailed logistical transactions, we can chronicle the gasket and gain an insight into its construction. Quality assurance is an upshot of this strategy, as is a close-up of the raw materials used in the fabrication process. Lot and batch control often partners this asset, which only serves to underscore the importance of this mechanically-oriented biographical data. Used for recalls, quality assurance documentation, and for supplier/manufacturer relationships, a gasket material traceability program guarantees an informed engineer always has access to an up-to-date source file of all gasket materials and the manufacturing chains used in the fabrication process.

How Important is Traceability?

If the source of a critical component, especially a gasket, is cut out from this long chain of events, then there’s no way to assess the quality of the product. Risks increase because the sandwiching layer between two flanges is suddenly perceived as a weak link. The paperwork attached to the seal helps, of course, but only a properly stamped traceability code can safely guarantee function as it relates to a current application.

Gaskets should always have an attached history, one that’s indelibly and physically bonded to the seal. Once deciphered, it can be traced through multiple supply chains, all the way back to the fabrication workshop and the original source material.

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