Monday 2nd November 2015

Divisional News: Elastomeric and Polymeric Seals Division - Small but Dynamic

The Elastomeric & Polymeric Seals Division is the newest of the ESA Divisions, but it has already produced some ground breaking material which has added to understanding of how elastomeric seals function and how best to use them. The group is fairly small but growing with two new members joining within the last year, bringing additional expertise in polymeric sealing into the team.

Our first major achievement was the production of the interactive guide ‘Successful Sealing with Elastomers which gives guidance on identifying the causes and prevention of seal failures.

A research project to look into the effectiveness of the widely used Arrhenius technique for life prediction of seals has raised serious questions about its efficacy. This project is now being extended to see if the technique can be made much more accurate by using different material properties than those normally adopted.

A second project which is well advanced is the development of a truly realistic method for determining the low temperature operating limits for any given elastomer compound. Existing methods are based on measuring elastomeric properties on material samples or sealing tests where the seal is already energized when the temperature is reduced. This is unrealistic in most applications so the new procedure looks at the ability to seal when energizing the seal once the temperature has been reduced and the seal is already stiffened and less responsive.

The project is currently in the validation phase with several laboratories applying the draft procedure to a variety of seals in different materials from an identical source. If this proves repeatability, the standard will be formally published and we will be looking to get it adopted as a European or even International Standard.

The more companies involved the more we can do, so we are actively seeking to add to our membership. If you are not yet part of the group and have an interest in elastomeric and polymeric sealing, please get in touch

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