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Sealing & Polymer Tales: Saint-Gobain Seals Shares Their “Making THE Difference” Adventures This Year

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The holiday season is here, which brings memorable moments, good cheer and the perfect time to share Saint-Gobain Seals’ sealing and polymer tales of what our teams have been up to this year. Our first tale takes you to the coolest of distant planets that may someday be home.  Our second takes you to magical places that never shut down while our third tale takes you through medical breakthroughs that improve lives.  Our fourth tale takes you on a safe and comfortable road trip no matter the weather conditions.  Our last tale ends with a look at a greener and brighter future.  

Our Space Team Wishes Upon a Star 

Our space team not only had stars on their mind but distant planets and deep space as they worked on supporting our partners this year with our OmniSeal® spring-energized seals and Rulon® and Meldin® polymer solutions.  Did you know that we have been exploring the night sky and beyond for quite a long time?  This summer marked the 60th anniversary of our OmniSeal® RACO® seal, which has been used on many key, historical rocket launches including the Apollo moon missions and Space Shuttle program. 

Many advancements have been made in these past decades with the path of space exploration expanding as the emergence of modern companies in the private sector further fuels the need for speed in the race to space. Two well-known companies include SpaceX—founded by Elon Musk to enable people to live on other planets, and aiming to provide worldwide broadband internet access through its Starlink constellation of satellites—and Blue Origin with Jeff Bezos and his vision of millions of people living and working in space. 

Saint-Gobain Seals’ space team has been on the “nice” list as we continue to work on NASA projects but also ones for private companies.  We also have been focusing on supporting emerging countries such as those in Asia.  For example, China aims to become the first country to land a probe on the undiscovered side of the moon this New Year’s Eve. Additionally, India, with the Indian Space Research Organization, has made major leaps and bounds in the advancement of space exploration, hosting events such as the Bengaluru Space Expo to gather key space players. 

What’s on the wish list of all these space visionaries?  The ability to address high pressure and temperature, increasing pressure, aggressive chemicals, cleanliness (such as IEST-STD-CC1246E) and reliability requirements, as well as innovation remain paramount in space. Since the industry is moving toward growing pressure requirements, it looks to obtain greater efficiency with more fuel and oxygen in smaller containers, enabling smaller vehicles to perform at a higher capacity. Recycling of materials and the need for greater cost-efficiency in some applications are also growing trends in this industry. 

This is where sealing solutions such as spring-energized seals are a precise fit package.  A critical part in many applications, there are often hundreds of seals used on one rocket.  This package can be small or large; Saint-Gobain Seals develops custom designs. One of the largest seals is a six-foot, rugged, cryogenic seal to be used in Exploration Mission 1 for the Space Launch System (SLS). 

Our Industrial Team Celebrates Silent Night 

Our industrial team worked closely with our partners to ensure that their compressors were working efficiently and quietly again in 2018.  Reliable high-performance plastic parts helped manufacturers to ensure a sound night’s sleep and lifetime confidence in their equipment, even as competition continues to heat up for goods and lower prices worldwide.  China, with Made in China 2025, aims to lead medical, aerospace, energy, and robotics production, expecting to manufacture 40% of worldwide robotic sales by 2019, according to the International Federation of Robots. 

With numerous grades available and the ability to be custom designed into bearings, piston rings, cup seals, wear components and other critical parts, Saint-Gobain Seal’s Rulon® PTFE material offers high wear life and low friction as well as withstands harsh conditions such as dry running, aggressive chemicals, abrasion, extreme temperature and pressure ranges. Don’t get caught with counterfeit Rulon® material in your stocking! We are the exclusive developer of Rulon® since the early 1950s, with the creation of the first blended PTFE material, Rulon® A. Today it is widely used in bearings in pumps, mixers and agitators in food and pharmaceuticals industries, where wear and disintegration of bearing material into formulations could otherwise cause contamination.  Rulon® 641 material is the only filled PTFE material that has USP Class VI approval for direct contact with human fluids and tissue. 

Our Life Sciences Team Pushes for A Wonderful (and Long) Life 

Our life sciences team focused on improving our OmniSeal® sealing and polymer solutions for analytical equipment such as in vitro diagnostics to address advancing healthcare with growing populations (expected to reach 8.6 billion worldwide in 2030, according to the United Nations). 

As people live longer and science progresses to better lives, demand for quality health care and medical devices increases. Asia, with an increasing middle-class and urban progress, is just one example, particularly in the “graying of China,” with about 22% of the population estimated to be over age 60 by 2027. Research firm IDC points to increased investment in development of devices for minimally invasive surgery, point of care testing in-vitro diagnostic equipment, and robots in medicine.  

As in the “It’s a Wonderful Life” movie that asks what if for the main character, we ask what if OmniSeal® spring-energized seals were never invented?  This would make it very difficult for OEMs to provide a tight sealing solution with strong tensile strength, and resistance to aggressive chemicals required in many of their applications.  In addition to providing a precise seal, they offer high levels of purity to meet stringent cleanroom standards, with over twenty-two FDA Compliant or USP Class VI materials.  This purity requirement is critical in Ultra-High Performance Liquid Chromatography (UHPLC) and High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) applications, where parts are regularly exposed to chemicals in separating, identifying and quantifying components; in-vitro diagnostic medical devices that test blood, tissue, or other samples; miniature motors that are used in pumps and minimally invasive power tools, and portable oxygen concentrators that demand a smaller footprint and low friction and wear.               

Our Automotive Team Ensures A Smooth Ride For Dashing Through The Snow (And Other Weather) 

The automotive team has been focused on ensuring a safer, smoother, more energy efficient ride for everyone heading out for the holidays no matter if the weather is sunny, rainy, or snowy.  This may include even Santa’s sleigh! 

As the industry continues to move towards metal-to-plastic conversions for parts to address the need for high speed, pressures, and temperatures, and low friction in powertrains and transmissions, Saint-Gobain Seals’ automotive team were busy in their workshop helping to accelerate innovation of high-performance polymers and seals. 

Our Meldin® high-performance thermoplastics increasingly offer a lighter weight alternative to help reduce fuel consumption and emissions in automotive applications. They also are able to withstand high temperatures and chemicals, and offer low levels of friction and wear in dry environments to increase part lifetime. For these reasons, it is often used in shock absorbers, braking system components, fuel systems, fluid handling systems, and other high-temperature and high-demand applications. 

With the growth in both full and part autonomous driving, and the increase in the number of automatic transmissions worldwide, rectangular seals have been growing in demand. Saint-Gobain Seals specializes in rectangular seals comprised of chemically robust, high performance thermoplastics. These seals are used in clutches, oil pumps, and variable valve train applications in engines and all types of transmissions, including sports cars [with engine speeds of 11,000 RPM, temperatures reaching 302-338° F (150-170°C) and pressure tolerances of 435 psi (30 bar)]. Rectangular seals can help to provide a secure, precise fit to minimize oil leakage and increase fuel efficiency, save space and money, ensure durability and lifetime service.   

Our Oil & Gas Team Is Making The Season Warm & Bright 

Our oil and gas team has been busy spreading the green, ensuring the tightness and durability of seals in even the most aggressive, arctic conditions. 

With offshore oil and gas investments expected to grow in 2019 and the U.S. Seeing a Surge in Drilled Natural Gas Wells and oil and gas revenues at a high, Saint-Gobain Seals’ oil and gas team has been busy at work developing high-performance seals and plastic parts to address these growing needs. These include the ability to withstand high pressure, high temperature (HPHT), corrosive chemicals, and other demanding conditions as well as tackle the fugitive emissions dilemma. 

Our oil and gas spring-energized seals are used in subsea in couplings, ball, gate, and choke valves, and API 17D wellhead and X-mas tree equipment, floating production, storage and offloading vessels, ball and butterfly valves and loading arms in cryogenic applications, and high-performance stem sealing system applications. OmniSeal® seals offer a precise fit, maintaining resilience and sealing force in aggressive media, sour gas environments, and extreme operating conditions as well as gas decompression. Unwrap one of the ways our seals are making THE difference at a compression station in the Norwegian Sea, operating in a water depth of 3,000 meters (9,842 feet). 

From drilling, production, and transport of critical fuels we rely on to light up our lives to powering life-saving surgical tools and fueling exploration into the great unknown, we have had a lot of fun working with our partners in developing the many opportunities our seals have in critical applications and the role high-performance plastics play in everyday life. We are grateful to all of our customers and partners for helping us to make THE difference. What does the future hold for high-performance seals and polymers? And how will they continue to help industries in automotive, life sciences, space, industrial, and more? 

We can’t wait to find out … and share more of our tales! 

For now, thank you to for reading and following our blog. And thank you to our team for contributing to it in 2018. Happy Holidays and to all a good night! 

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