A company that works in industrial coding and printing, across markets as diverse as food & beverage, cable & wire, cosmetics, pharmaceutical, healthcare, and more, needed a custom solution to solve a processing problem. This custom seal for industrial printing needed to meet specific requirements — how seals were affected by regular cleaning procedures.
The seals previously used reacted negatively to the cleaning chemicals used in flushing lines to make them suitable to print on another product. The reaction between the seals and the cleaning solution led to the formation of crystals, as well as a thickening in viscosity and yellowing of the cleaning solution around the seal. The ‘build-ups’ decreased the ability of the cleaning fluid to flow and properly do the task needed, slowed production, and led to material costs in replacing components.
Improving the seal’s performance, and lessening its adverse effects on the cleaning process/fluid, were paramount to the project’s success. The challenges for the Marco Rubber & Plastics team for this custom seal for industrial printing hinged on several factors:
- The seal material needed to be chemically resistant, and able to hold up in a caustic environment
- The seal material also needed to be inert in its reactions to the cleaning fluid used, and not lead to the negative effects seen previously
- Budget concerns limited the pool of potential material solutions
- Because the solution was a custom-designed one, trial-and-error and multiple potential offerings were considered
Marco Rubber & Plastics tapped into its extensive knowledge base to find the right material that would meet the requirements (both in application and budget) and then worked extensively with the customer to alter processes to further enhance performance. Once identified, Marco Rubber & Plastics validated the solution with internal testing to minimize cost due to lost production time.
The Marco Rubber & Plastics engineering team considered many possible fixes to the problem, including the potential use of multiple compounds and utilizing Parylene or PTFE coating to address the crystallization and discoloration. Cognizant of the budget constraints — the customer needed to adhere to a specific range — Marco Rubber creatively worked through options that were available.
The engineering team settled on an EPDM formulation as the base material. But that discovery wasn’t the end of the process. Marco Rubber continued to hone in on various aspects of the seal to deliver the best performance possible.
- For instance, the formulation switched from a sulfur-cured EPDM material to a peroxide-cured EPDM formulation.
- To increase the ability of the seal to fit securely in the space allowed, the durometer of the sealing material was adjusted, rising from 45 to 60 to provide a more firm filling material.
- Adding even more customization, Marco Rubber was able to adjust the compression set of the seal to maintain the long-running performance of the seal after repeated use.
- To eliminate, or ‘bake out,’ a potential chemical conflict in the material, a custom post-curing methodology was implemented. A longer curing time and higher temperature were used to make sure the potential disruptive chemical element was absent in the final product.
- Once a solution was prototyped, it was validated through a series of in-house tests — recreating the expected operating environment thanks to details provided by the customer — to make sure the product would perform as expected onsite. This process also led to quicker deployment of the seal, and less downtime for the customer.
The custom-designed seal delivered in all aspects. The liquid flow of the cleaning solution returned to appropriate levels, remained clear of discoloring, and lacked the formation of problematic crystals. The mechanical and chemical-resistant properties of the seal met all requirements. Lastly, the customer was able to find a timely solution that eluded several previous suppliers — at a price point that worked with their budget.
“Marco Rubber went above and beyond making sure we found the solution to our unique needs. The engineering and sales team were extremely responsive and helpful with any questions that we had throughout the process. From start to finish they made sure that we were fully satisfied with both our short and long-term goals.” — Customer company’s Process Engineer
This instance highlights the many ways that Marco Rubber & Plastics puts its experience and expertise to work for the customer in finding solutions to their sealing challenges. By collaborating with your team, and not simply dictating which path to take, Marco Rubber & Plastics accounts for every requirement — from material compatibility and mechanical wear to budget constraints and creative ways to maximize performance.
Contact Marco Rubber & Plastics today to learn how our engineering expertise can provide a custom seal for industrial printing, or any other sealing challenge.