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Sealing & Polymer Trends: Saint-Gobain Seals Counts Down Your Most Helpful Blogs

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Another year has passed with many global memorable moments that were seen, heard and felt around the world - from the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea where Norway ended up cheering the loudest with the most medal wins at 39; to the Royal Wedding that 29 million Americans watched; to discovery of a 20 km-wide lake on Mars’ south polar ice cap by our friendly rover friend, Curiosity. 

As a global design engineering and manufacturing company, Saint-Gobain Seals also had our share of moments such as the expansion of the Kontich, Belgium R&D facilities, local production of Rulon® stamped fluoropolymer parts at the Bangalore, India facility for a fuel pump industrial application and reaching out at trade shows from Valve World to Toulouse Space Show. We also added to our polymer family with the acquisition of HyComp (now Saint-Gobain HyComp, LLC), experts in composite components with proprietary carbon fibers and thermoplastics for actuation and electric systems on aircraft, wear rings and air rotary valves for canning and rolling mill systems for industrial, and more. Finally, we increased readership on our blog, The Critical PARTner.  All these moments achieved the goal we set in 2018 to make our customers the first priority in speed, delivery and design.  Our New Year’s resolution for 2019?  The same customer focus! 

As we near 2019, we would like to share what was trending on our seals manufacturer blog in 2018.  Read on to find out what our readers and engineers found most helpful this year.  Let the countdown begin! 

#8. 4 Must-Ask Questions for Seal Manufacturers BEFORE You Order

With our customers having absolutely no room for error in a seal’s fit and quality used in critical applications for aerospace, oil and gas and automotive, knowing which questions to ask seal manufacturers before ordering is essential. No matter if you are ordering 10 or 100,000 seals, there are four, must-ask questions that we pinpointed. Are these on your list?  Grab a piece of paper and sit down with our expert as she gives an inside look through her operations and manufacturing eyes: 4 Top Questions to Ask a Seal Manufacturer. 

#7. PTFE, PEEK, or XYZ? Why is R&D Important in Selecting Material Best for Your Application?

Will PTFE, PEEK, UHMWPE, or another option offer superior results? Selecting the best materials for aerospace, space, life sciences or industrial customers from a plethora of options is a complex, multifaceted process. It involves understanding often-neglected considerations surrounding goals of the application and the environment.  Having a partner with a strong R&D background helps with these challenges. “I like puzzles and challenging my brain. My work is like a puzzle where I try to find the best way to develop or build,” says Alma Camara, R&D Group Leader at Saint-Gobain Seals, with a Ph.D. in Polymer Technology and eight years in R&D.  Her lab and work life are on display as we take a microscopic look in R&D’s Critical Role to Find the Right Sealing and Polymer Solutions: A Day in the Life of an R&D Engineer to better understand what goes into Saint-Gobain Seals’ waterfall/gate process and how critical aspects are examined to select the best materials to address your needs. 

#6. Is Rulon® the Right Material for Your Industrial Application?  Consider These 3 Aspects!

Manufacturing is up in China, France, Canada, Germany, the UK and other countries around the world. Ensuring production and uptime is important to our global customers, with the cost of factory downtime estimated at almost $650 billion every year in the industry, according to the International Society of Automation. From bearings used in industrial pumps, mixers and agitators to cup seals used in industrial fuel pumps, failure of even one component can be costly. Our Rulon® PTFE product is a versatile high-performance family of proprietary, homogenous filled materials that offers high wear life and low friction. It can withstand harsh conditions such as dry running, aggressive chemicals and abrasion and operate in extreme temperature and pressure ranges, with many grades developed for specific applications. What are the advantages of Rulon®, and what should you look for in considering it? These are just a few of the questions that our industrial market manager addresses in his blog, The Rulon® Difference and Why This Polymer Material Matters. 

#5. Underestimating Design Engineering Sealing Elements in Oil & Gas – What Are You Overlooking?

Application, working conditions, compliance and fugitive emissions, and proven design are all key elements of selecting sealing solutions in oil and gas. But beyond these four factors are other, often overlooked and underestimated design engineering elements that are essential to developing precise-fit, optimally-performing seals – elements such as the right surface finish on valve hardware and the seal. Why is properly defining, measuring and controlling surface finish quality critical to seal reliability and surface life? And what aspects of seal and surface finish do you need to examine? This blog from our application engineer on How the Right Surface Makes The Difference in Oil & Gas is getting a lot of interest as is our case study: Case of the “Twin Island” Leaking Valve where a leaking seal was replaced in three days, getting a key customer back on track with minimal downtime. 

#4. Longer Life, Less Maintenance, & More Benefits: What You May Not Know About the Meldin® Plastics Family in Life Sciences

First developed in the 1970s as an alternative to melamine, Meldin® polymer material has since evolved into numerous series and grades used in seals, bearings, bushings, piston rings, thrust washers, vanes, gears and other critical parts across a number of industries. In healthcare and life sciences, customers rely on the material to withstand chemicals and stringent operating conditions, address needs for longer life and reduce maintenance in portable oxygen concentrators, in vitro analytical equipment and dental drills. What do you need to know about this increasingly popular polymer material with growing thermoplastic and thermoset polyimide options to address critical life sciences application? And which specific grade might be a precise fit?  Head over to our expert in Bristol, Rhode Island, the only site that manufacturers both Meldin® thermosets and thermoplastics in the United States for life sciences but also automotive on All in the Polymer Family: Meldin® Line for insights. 

#3. Brrrr … Too Cold an Application?  Your Cryogenic Aerospace Seal Needs in the Negative Degrees

It’s not just high levels of heat that can pose problems with seals, extreme cold can also present significant challenges, particularly in aerospace and oil and gas. From use in rocket propulsion systems to LNG tank applications, cryogenic seals are designed to work in temperatures ranging from -320°F (-196°C) in applications with liquid nitrogen to -425°F (-254°C) for liquid hydrogen applications. They are also critical to seal other gasses such as liquid natural gas, liquid oxygen and helium from the environment. But not all cryogenic seals are alike as our aerospace market manager shined a bright light on three factors to look for in cryogenic seals in his blog on Cryogenic Materials for Aerospace and Oil and Gas. Our Rocket Engine Seal Valve Case Study also warms things up, sharing the value of OmniSeal® 103A spring-energized seals in addressing cryogenic extremes. 

#2. What You Need To Know for High Temperature Materials in Aerospace

Along with reducing total weight for better fuel efficiency, selecting the right high-temperature material in aerospace is an automatic concern for our customers. High temperatures in turbofans, the most-common type of jet engine, make this all the more challenging, with the need for higher-temperature sealing materials increasing with each successive section of the engine. While elastomers and metals can sometimes be used, the former can be affected by oil coking and the latter often requires that more bolts and nuts be used, causing parts to be heavier. In Tech Tip: Selecting High Temperature Materials for Aeronautics, our aerospace market manager takes off in detail to illustrate why OmniSeal® spring-energized seals are commonly used for critical applications in aerospace as well as space. She also addresses how the emergence of new formulations can withstand static hot air sealing in temperature up to 662°F (350°C) while retaining mechanical properties with same or less leakage. This fuel tank seal case study is a great example of both high and low temperatures. 

And now, we are at the very end of our countdown!  Drum roll please … the most read blog post on the Critical PARTner in 2018 was … 

#1. Winter Olympics and World Cup Weren’t The Only Competitions in 2018.  Which Seal Would Win in a Knock-Out?

Are elastomer O-rings or OmniSeal® spring-energized seals a better fit for your application? It’s a question we get asked a lot and was the topic of our most read blog in 2018. “Very often, spring-energized seals and elastomer O-rings are both options for an application solution. Ultimately, we agree that the choice should be dictated by the application and operating environment. With this in mind, the next question then becomes, ‘How challenging is your application?’” asks our market development manager. From storage requirements to aggressive media, and high pressures, he takes you to the front row seats of this match to find out when it might be best to go with OmniSeal® seals and when elastomer o-rings might be an option in Elastomer O-ring Seals vs. OmniSeal® Spring-Energized Seals: A Comparison.  Between rounds, take a look at this example of OmniSeal® spring-energized seal being used for lifetime confidence, longer maintenance cycles and lower overall in an IVD case study where systems are required to run faster and longer than previous generations due to the seal’s chemical inert and heat resistant properties and precise fit. 

Hope you enjoyed this year in review with our Saint-Gobain Seals’ team of experts as we worked closely with customers and continued to focus on innovation, quality and customization of the highest-performance polymer plastics and seals in aerospace, life sciences, industrial, oil and gas, automotive, and more in 2018.  We are grateful to all of our customers and partners as well as dedicated team members and contributors to The Critical PARTner blog this year. Thank you for reading and supporting our quest to share engineering, R&D and manufacturing knowledge! 

Which topics would you like to see us write about in 2019? Email us with your suggestions!

 

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