Perfluoroelastomer (FFKM) is a versatile material with a wide range of formulas for just about every application. If you have spent any time looking into sealing solutions, you have most likely heard of FFKM as the superior option in most situations. But why?
Is FFKM everything it is made out to be? What are the benefits of using FFKM o-rings in your seals?
Extremely Temperature Resistant
One of the primary benefits of using FFKM for o-rings is its extreme temperature resistance. FFKM formulations can withstand operating temperatures as low as approximately -49°F (-45°C) and as high as 635°F (335°C).
Nearly Universal Chemical Resistance
FFKM offers the best chemical resistance on the market, in terms of the number of chemicals and compatibility with them. FFKM is resistant to over 1,800 chemicals, solvents, and plasmas.
Excellent Gas and Liquid Permeation Resistance
Permeation occurs when a liquid or gas gets into a material’s pores and causes cracks, leading to seal failures and leaks. FFKM stands up exceedingly well to permeation.
Excellent Weather Ability and Ozone Resistance
When designing a seal for use outdoors, additional elements come into play, such as weather and ozone exposure. When a seal experiences the fluctuations in temperature, humidity, and other elements brought on by being outdoors, they can quickly degrade, resulting in failure and leaks. Thus, using a material like FFKM that readily withstands weathering and ozone exposure is pivotal to sealing success.
Non-Flammable in Air
Some alternatives to FFKM materials can be flammable, which, of course, creates a risk to the application, environment, and personnel. FFKM is both self-extinguishing and non-flammable.
Low Outgassing Properties
Outgassing (or offgassing) refers to when a polymer puts off vapors, usually under high temperatures or low pressures. In high sensitivity applications in harsh environments, such as pharmaceuticals, semiconductor manufacturing, or vacuum environments, like outer space, outgassing is of particular concern. The extractables put off during outgassing can damage sensors or harm sterility.
FFKM has low extractables, meaning it has low outgassing properties, and is a safer choice for these applications.
Good Mechanical Properties
FFKM o-rings offer excellent compression set and sealing performance thanks to FFKM’s mechanical properties.
Suitable for Explosive Decompression
Explosive decompression is a rapid, violent depressurization, forcing gas into the polymer. If the pressure is not released properly, it can cause the polymer to rupture. This, in turn, leads to seal failure, leaks, expensive messes, costly clean-up, and, of course, downtime.
For a seal to survive explosive decompression, you need to use a material like FFKM that is suitable for the rapid pressure change and forthcoming pressurized gas.
Easily Customizable Shapes
FFKM’s mechanical properties not only improve seal quality and performance, but also make it easier to customize into a number of shapes, including but not limited to o-rings, gaskets, and tri-clamps. Along with the shapes, FFKM can be formed into custom sizes with relative ease.
Available in Ultra Clean Formulas
For high sterility environments such as pharmaceutical, medical device manufacturing, and semiconductors, having a low off-gassing and non-shedding o-ring is critical. Moreover, using o-rings manufactured, cleaned, and packaged in a cleanroom is also important. This process guarantees the material is free of particles when it is installed in a facility.
From certain suppliers, there are FFKM formulas that are not only particle-free and low off-gassing, but manufactured, packaged, and cleaned in cleanrooms for ultimately sterility.
The Right FFKM Formula For You
There are several FFKM formulas available, but is there a right one for you? Well, it really depends on your application and needs. We would recommend working with a sealing expert to determine the right FFKM formula to help you make the most of your seal.
For example, a medical laser equipment manufacturing company approached us looking for a material that could:
- Withstand high temperatures,
- Resist lasers,
- Not absorb the laser and conduct its heat,
- Meet sterility requirements for the medical industry,
- Occupy a small footprint,
- And provide excellent sealability.
Our engineering team went to work by considering each of these factors. They ultimately devised a custom, proprietary solution.
Due to the nature of the factors at hand, the first decision revolved around the material. They landed on Markez®, compound Z1407. Markez® is our high-performance FFKM material that offers unmatched sealability for a fraction of the cost in comparison to competitors. This particular compound was developed for applications such as plasma, wet wafer processing, lasers, and medical where high performance and purity are important factors. Moreover, Z1407 is formulated using PTFE nanoparticles, which act as an ultrapure organic filler.
This was an ideal choice because it was capable of operating in temperatures up to 536°F while being both unfilled and translucent. This means that it would not absorb laser energy and, thus, not conduct the laser’s heat. The seal itself, though, would still provide excellent sealability.
We tested the seal extensively and found the material to perform well! The seal did its job single-handedly. Upon meeting all the required performance and safety parameters from the manufacturer as well as our internal quality standards, we put the o-ring to work in their operation.
As this story demonstrates, FFKM, specifically Markez®, offers a wide range of benefits, and it becomes simple to find your solution when you put our sealing experts to work. Our team members have worked their whole careers to develop this knowledge, know these formulas, and find answers for our customers.
So take the stress out of sealing. Put Marco Rubber’s experts to work for you today.