Just like cartilage and ligament in human athletes, seals and gaskets perform functions vital to keep architectural, building and construction technology, componentry and concepts performing in peak condition.
These complex industrial connective materials are vital to both the initial performance and ongoing reliability of a huge range of projects undertaken by architects, engineers and specifiers.
Sealing and jointing tasks can range from solar installations, lighting, heating, glazing, switching and gas and liquid handling, through to development of consumer, commercial and bespoke kitchen and bathroom products, concepts and showpieces where form and function are equally vital parts of success in the market.
“Sometimes it’s only when things go wrong – or when people need to perfect a new product or process to perfect as rapidly as possible – that they even think about how vitally important sealing is to optimum performance,” says seal and gasket engineering specialist, CSGtech.
“But rather than leaving it until later in the process, there is great upside in partnering with a reputable seals and gaskets supplier in getting the choice right at the outset, in terms of optimum performance, reliability, cost efficiency and speed to market.”
“Conversely, there is potentially a higher price for failure in terms of delayed time to market or spills, leaks, hazards and reputational damage if the job is not done right the first time and not thoroughly understood and tested before it lands in the market,” says CSGtech General Manager Mr Vinh Lam.
“Obviously, the best approach is proactive rather than reactive. We suggest specifiers pose themselves some simple questions so they can clearly brief specialist suppliers in this specialist field (instead of moving down a path of old solutions to new problems, or series of dead-end trials or less-than-optimum solutions).”
“Seal and gasket technology is a fast-moving field and even the best professionals just may not have the time to know it all. Typical first-up questions to organise an approach for a short brief to suppliers may include:
- Obviously, what type of product or specialist needs are we looking at – is it old, new or under development?
- What types of materials do we need to seal?
- What are the operating conditions and temperatures?
- What are the seal/flange conditions? Is there sufficient engineering/load capacity/space available?
- What is the expected design life of the joint?
- What do you like/not like about what is currently available, that you know about, or is being proposed?
- What is the target price and time range?
“There are a lot of good and bad options out there, especially when working with composites and raw materials, where capabilities and performance continue to advance. It could even be that something suitable already exists that specifiers weren’t familiar with because it was out of the course of their daily work.
“Even the very best professionals and consultants we deal with appreciate that they cannot be totally knowledgeable in all specialist areas. Rather than use their resources to rediscover a solution that might already exist – or, worse, engineer a solution that doesn’t work as they wish after investing their time going down a blind alley – it is better that they consider the seal material selection and production processes correct from the beginning. It’s the logical planning process by which to arrive at earliest results and achieve the earliest production opportunity with a solution that works and continues to work,” says Mr Lam.