From an ordinary camera lens protector to a supercharged racecar engine, gaskets are used in applications ranging from the everyday to the extraordinary. Gasket manufacturers have developed and honed their products with these large multitudes of possibilities in mind. What is gasket material, technically speaking? A gasket is a mechanical seal that fills the space in between two objects to prevent unwanted gas or liquid emissions while being compressed. Usually two surfaces, like metal, have irregular or imperfect surfaces and need a barrier or pressure-tight seam in between to keep two materials from mixing together or from creating high amounts of friction. This is especially important for car engines to confine the combustion process of the car to just the piston chamber and also to prevent the coolant and engine oil from mixing together. They act as barriers in camera lenses as well to ensure that moisture and dust do not ruin the photograph, not to mention the camera itself.
The most common and inexpensive way to form a gasket is to use sheets of materials, such as rubber or plastics, and then proceed to punch the shape out. There are several types of gaskets in order to best fit different applications. The most common types are listed below:
Jacketed – Usually created from custom made rubber or soft plastics, these are flexible and durable products. Single jackets are rubber gaskets with one metal covered side, while double jacket gaskets are fully coated with metal facing. The full covering helps to resist extreme temperature, pressure, and corrosion.
Solid – Made from metal, this product is generally inexpensive in comparison to jacketed gaskets, but usually more crudely made with a higher change of imperfections. While able to withstand thermal and pressure, these solid metal products cannot be compressed as easily as a softer material and are ineffective unless the separated surfaces are harder than the metal.
Spiral Wound – Combining metal with rubber into a winding shape, these uniquely shaped gaskets are able to resist high thermal and physical stress while retaining flexibility and sealing ability.
Kammprofile – This design utilizes metal cores to attain a strong tensile core while the softer covering allows for flexibility still. Perfect for heat-exchange systems, the Kammprofile gasket is a durable product with easy repair.
Flange – Meant to fit between two sections of pipes, these are available in a large amount of sizes that are categorized by their inside and outside diameter. There are four ways to form a gasket in this style. Sheet flange products are cut to size with or without bolt holes on the sides. Ring gaskets are solid metal with different cross sections. Spiral wound gaskets are stainless steel inner and outer rings with a center of wound up steel tape to form a “V” shape. (www.thomasnet.com/articles/hardware/gasket-materials).
The material that each of these gaskets utilize changes how they perform. Gasket manufacturers must tailor each type and material to best suit different applications. The most common materials used are as follows:
Metal – Solid metal or a mixture of metal and non-metal material is resistant to both heat and pressure. Metal is also durable with a strong tensile strength, but has very limited flexibility for a wide range of applications and requires higher amounts of compression to create seals than other materials like rubber or plastic.
Rubber – This is a popular material because rubber can undergo lots of deformation without permanent damage and create air-tight seals. Rubber gaskets can also withstand thermal and pressure stress, while still remaining functional and preventing leakages. Silicone, especially, is resistant to extreme temperatures from -140 to 480 degrees Fahrenheit. They also withstand ultraviolet light and weathering, making them a top choice for outdoor uses.
From custom made rubber to strong steel core, gaskets are created from a wide range of materials to be used in an endless amount of applications. So what is gasket application potential? Whether or not you notice, almost everything uses gaskets in some form or another. Ammunition boxes use them in their hinged lids to protect ammunition from moisture; vacuums use them to separate chambers; Australia even used them to build a bridge in Sydney.