EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) gaskets are a type of rubber gasket composed of the synthetic rubber of the same name. EPDM gaskets are installed on a variety of surfaces, where they provide a seal between one surface and another. They exhibit all the excellent qualities of EPDM, which include resistance to weather, resistance to ozone and ultraviolet light, resistance to harsh chemicals and acids, resistance to aging, resistance to wear and incredible resistance to water. (EPDM is considered to be one of the most waterproof rubbers in the world.) EPDM gaskets maintain their form even under great duress; they are typically able to work in environments with temperatures between approximately -60°F and 300°F. In addition, EPDM has a significant amount of elasticity and viscosity.
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To create EPDM, which is a polymer, manufacturers must first trigger a chemical reaction between its ingredients. This chemical reaction creates a compound composed of mixed particles and clusters of large, repeating molecules. After the compound has been created, they must vulcanize it, or cure it with sulfur. The reason for this is that the presence of diene in EPDM makes its polymer structure transform into an unsaturated polymer structure. To strengthen it, vulcanization, which results in the formation of crosslinks between the polymer chains of its molecules, must be performed. As a result of vulcanization, the rubber is more durable and less sticky. Without the strength imparted by vulcanization, EPDM would be much more vulnerable, would break down more easily and would, ultimately, not last nearly as long.
EPDM Manufacturing Process
Typically, EPDM gaskets are made using the die cutting process. Die cutting is a cold-working process that uses shears or other cutting tools to cut stock material. The cutting blades are almost made of some sort of steel alloy, such as stainless steel. Die cutting is typically divided into the sub-processes of shearing and shearing-type operations. Put simply, if the manufacturer is using straight cutting blades, the process is known as shearing. Meanwhile, if the manufacturer is instead using a curved blade, the die cutting process is a shearing-type operation. A die cutting procedure very commonly used to make rubber gaskets of all kind is “dinking”. This process, known in metalworking as “clicking,” uses shears to cut webs of materials. Dinking calls for special dies that are pressed into materials either with a mechanical press or with a hammer. They may be referred to as either dinking dies or hollow cutters. Die cutting is used to create EPDM gaskets of all shapes, lengths, widths and depths. After they are cut, they can be further worked into all kinds of forms, including rubber foam gaskets, sealant strip and gasket tape. Sealant strip is a closed cell material, meaning that rather than absorbing elements, it blocks them. Thus, it can work very well for waterproofing applications. Likewise, EPDM gasket tape also made up of closed cell rubber material. It is an excellent tool for sealing narrow and hard to reach spots.
Advantages and Disadvantages of EPDM Gaskets
While EPDM is an excellent rubber material, it does have its shortcomings. The most disadvantageous of them is that it becomes ineffective if and when it comes in contact with certain substances. These include aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons, concentrated acids, gas, halogenated solvents and oil. If any of these pitfalls prove to be a dealbreaker for an application, customers may also consider the alternatives of neoprene or silicone gasket material. Each has something to offer. First, neoprene can withstand an onslaught of chemical flow and it is fairly water resistant. Second, silicone can maintain its effectiveness and form in high temperature applications than EPDM can. Also, it is more efficient. Nevertheless, EPDM persists as an excellent material that has superior resistance to atmospheric influence, and, while it cannot withstand all chemicals or substances, it can withstand a variety of animal oils, oxygenated solvents, steam and water-based chemicals. Outside of the gasket world, popular applications for this lovely rubber include stints as: pool liners, belts, hoses, washers, radiators and playground turf. For more details about EPDM gaskets and how they might help your application be warmer, drier, cushioned or more secure, contact a gasket manufacturer today. Don’t worry if you don’t know where to start; just check out the many skilled and experienced companies we have listed on this page.
Applications of EPDM Gaskets
Due to both its literal and figurative flexibility, EPDM gaskets have applications in a great many industries, including aerospace, automotive, architecture, construction and power and utility. Among the most common EPDM applications are automotive weatherstripping and window and door sealing.