Dispensing and assembly of liquid gaskets

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I wrote a lot about the liquid gaskets in the last posts and, as I’ve mentioned previously anyone who is interested in more is welcome to request the complete Gasketing design guide. Nevertheless I have to mention a few more things related to dispensing and assembly of parts when liquid gaskets are used.

When it comes to preparation of the parts, the same golden rule is valid as always with bonding – clean the parts as thoroughly as possible. Normally, pre-produced metal parts will carry instructions from the manufacturer for cleaning before putting them into further use, and they should always be followed.

RTV Elastomers will be slightly less sensitive to contaminants than anaerobics.

Single Rotary

Possibility of automation is often a critical factor when decision is being made on how to seal your flanges. With liquid gaskets the dispensing can be fully automated. Dispensing them robotically is actually the most reliable method for high volume production. Anaerobics can be screen printed as well, but this method is more suitable for medium volume productions which don’t require any flexibility in the process. I definitely recommend consulting an expert before setting anything up.

 

Gaskets: Anaerobics versus RTV Elastomers

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AN_vs_RTV gasketing

As magical a liquid as anaerobics may seem, they are not necessarily suitable for every flange type. They are most suited for sealing rigid flanges, designed to achieve optimum stiffness between two parts, minimise movement between them and transmit forces from one to another. Typical examples of such flanges can be found in vehicles, including gearbox housings, bedplate to crankcase, water pump to engine block and cam cover to cylinder head.

Anaerobic FIP (formed-in-place) sealants are ideal for rigid bolted joints because they offer metal to metal contact, ensure correct bolt tension, add structural strength, offer high pressure resistance and extensive on part life when exposed to air, making multiple application methods possible.

When it comes to flexible flanges, however, your best choice are RTV (Room Temperature Vulcanising) elastomers. They are best suited to seal i.e. gearbox covers, timing chain covers, stamped sheet steel parts, thin-walled metal castings and oil pans. Normally, flexible flanges don’t support the function of the parts, so micro-movement can be tolerated and optimum clamp load distribution is not crucial.

You’ll usually find flexible flanges covering openings in housings, sealing liquids inside components or protecting them from external contamination, covering moving parts for safety etc.

While anaerobics remain liquid on parts for as long as they are exposed to oxygen, RTV elastomers will cure into rubbery solids by reacting with the moisture from the environment. So there is a considerable difference in on part life between the two, which is important to take into consideration when suitability of the manufacturing process is being decided.

In both cases – rigid and flexible flanges – there are certain design recommendations to be followed to make the flange best suited for either anaerobic or RTV elastomer FIP gasket. Details can be found in the Gasketing design guide which I am happy to share on request.

To all the hardworking engineers out there!

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Christmas

It’s that time of the year once again! Time to take a well deserved break, slow down and take it easy. I know there’s one wish that applies to you all: may all the machines you tend to all year through, lovingly repay you for all the care you give them by running smoothly and without any need for interventions during the upcoming festive days!

Merry Christmas and all the best to you all for the coming new year!

 

Formed in Place

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To recap from the previous article, FIP (Formed-In-Place) gaskets are applied as a bead or a screen print of a liquid material, just before the two mating flanges are assembled. As the flange surfaces come together, the sealant is smeared between them and forced into surface imperfections, providing total contact and forming into a durable seal.

FIP

Unlike conventional gaskets, cured FIPGs adhere to every part of the joint and therefore don’t require extreme compresive loading to form a seal. With FIPG you can also forget about gasket relaxation and need for re-torquing. The metal to metal contact that FIPGs secure enables more accurate maintaining of tolerances while any scratches or damages to either of the surfaces can be sealed by the liquid material. Most of the FIP sealants have really good resistance to solvents and other industrial chemicals and unlike solid gaskets can be applied to vertical surfaces without any need for additional adhesive to hold them in place till assembly.

In terms of curing chemistry, there are two most frequently used types of FIP sealants:

  • Anaerobic (curing between metal surfaces in the absence of oxygen)
  • Room Temperature Vulcanising (RTV) elastomers

Anaerobic sealants are best suited for sealing of very rigid flanges such as gearbox housings, bedplates to crankcases, water pumps to engine blocks, and cam covers to cylinder heads.

They ensure minimum movement between parts, optimum stiffness between the two surfaces and transmit forces from one part to the other.

RTV elastomers cure to rubbery solids by reacting with the moisture in the environment. They are best suited for flexible flanges, like gearbox covers, timing chain covers, stamped sheet steel parts, thin walled metal castings and oil pans. Normally, they do not support the function of the component so micromovements can be tolerated.

Some of the additional benefits that RTV Elastomers offer are: high gap filling, sealing of T-joints, creating seals on non-machined flanges as well as between metal and plastic or two plastic components.

For more details, please request your copy of the Gasketing design guide.

Rigidity, positioning and surface smoothness

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Rigidity_positioning and surface smoothnessž

A flange rigidity critically influences the required minimum surface pressure at mid-point between two bolts of a flanged joint. It also very much influences the type of a gasket suitable for the said joint. Where adequate bending rigidity is maintained, soft gasket materials and non-curing liquid gaskets can be used.

When deciding which of the gasketing options is suitable for your design, apart from flange rigidity, you must also look into the required / possible bolt spacing and positioning and the resulting stress distribution. Each of these factors are inevitably influencing each other and your selection of gasket material.

With conventional gaskets, surface finish or surface texture is an additional crucial factor, since the initial compressive load required to deform the gasket into the flange surface irregularities increases with rougher surface finish. Although it’s not to be completely neglected, the surface finish becomes much less important when using a liquid gasket material. For details you can consult the Gasketing design guide which I’m happy to share on request.

When talking about liquid gasket materials, there are several types depending on application method, curing method and timing or technology.

  • FIP (Formed-In-Place) Gaskets are formed by the application of a bead or by screen printing of sealant, which is then assembled in the uncured state.
  • CIP (Cured-In-Place) Gaskets are formed by the application of a bead of elastomer to one flange that is cured before the flanges are assembled. The gasket is then compressed by the mating flange to form the seal.
  • IIP (Injected-In-Place) Gaskets are liquid gaskets that are injected, after the assembly of the joint, into a groove between the two flange faces and then cured.
  • MIP (Moulded-In-Place) Gaskets are moulded directly onto one of the mating parts, usually into a groove.

I’ll go into the details of each and their advantages and recommended application areas in the next article.

Yes, the gasket can be a liquid

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As unorthodox as it may sound, applying some liquid material in between two rigid metal flanges in order to keep other liquids from seeping through the gap, actually does make sense. Yet, it’s the most common procedure to use pre-cut solid gaskets for this purpose.

That, however, means that the design of the flanges needs to be suitable to use such gaskets, which normally limits the designers’ freedom. On a more operational level, it means that the manufacturer must stock a huge number of as many different gasket types as there are types of flanges they are currently producing.

Both of these issues can be mitigated by the use of liquid gaskets. To better explain it, perhaps I should first go back to what a gasket is and why it’s needed in the first place. A gasket is a material positioned between two flanges which are held together by fasteners. Gaskets prevent leaking of fluids or gases by completely filling the space between the surfaces of the flanges. It is necessary for the seal to remain intact and leak-free for a prolonged time. The gasket must be resistant to the medium being sealed and able to withstand the application temperature, pressure, and micro-movements caused by vibration as well as thermal expansion/contraction.

With all this in mind, I can perfectly understand how liquid might not seem like an obvious choice. You’ll want something firm, something to really fill that gap there! But once you look at the surface of those flanges on the microscopic level, liquid makes perfect sense.

While we see a perfectly smooth surface looking at it with a naked eye, on microscopic level it looks something like this:

surface irregularities

 

And there’s nothing like a liquid gasket to get into every one of those little valleys and perfectly seal every gap once it cures into a solid.

Same as between solid gaskets, there are certainly variations between liquid gaskets as well. Your choice will depend on general design requirements.

Regardless of the sealing material, though, there are certain considerations that have to be taken into account, such as:

  • Rigidity of sealing flanges
  • Bolt preload
  • Potentially different thermal expansion
  • Stress and strain of the joint caused by external forces
  • Compressive stress distribution

A complete and comprehensive guide to gasketing design has been published by Loctite engineers recently, tackling all of the mentioned topics and much more. I’m happy to share it on request, so please contact me if you’d like to have a complete pdf.

And to summarise, have a look:

For your babies

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4moms blog

I bet you’re thinking that’s a funny headline for an article in an engineering blog! But there is a connection, just as there is one between pineapples and shipping containers :-).

A regular Joe rarely stops to think how many of the everyday things we use are products of engineers and engineering. As a bumper sticker that ended up on an engineer’s office door says: God made the world, and engineers made everything else :-).

All jokes aside, there are very few things in life that come even close in importance to the safety and wellbeing of our children. And engineers who design baby carriers, buggies, cots, beds and baby accessories in general, know that very well. The first thing new parents are interested in is safety and reliability of any of those items. Which is why the design engineers submit them to rigorous testing and often rely on adhesives to make sure every assembly put together stays together, regardless how many hours of rocking or how many kilometres of rolling over roughly paved park paths they have to serve. Loctite threadlockers ensure that they always open, close and function reliably, while instant adhesives are used to keep together parts made of difficult to bond plastic materials. Company “4moms” is an example of such a manufacturer and you can see more about their use of adhesives here.

Generally, people are often surprised to learn how many things we take for granted would look and function much differently if there were no adhesives used in their making.