The Power Of Polymers: Materials Enriching Lives Every Day

Every day, new advances in polymer seal and material technology are made for a broad range of applications that protect, enhance and improve our lives.

In order to keep up with the fast pace of need and growth in several areas of manufacturing, the polymer industry and those who design and engineer solutions have to demonstrate exceptional innovation and go above and beyond in the areas of development, design and efficiency. 

The Beneficial Applications of Polymer Seals and Materials.

Image Credit: Omniseal Solutions™

To do this, it is essential to start with the fundamentals. What is a polymer? What is its power?

The word “polymer” – derives from the Greek word “polumeros” and that means  “many parts” – is used to describe a long chain molecule made up of numerous repeating units called monomers.

Either natural (organic) or synthetic (man-made), polymers are ubiquitous in everyday life. They are in plastic water bottles, toys that children play with, food such as proteins and starches, clothes and shoes, shampoos and other hair care products, and even our DNA.

Polymers are diverse in their properties; some are extremely flexible while others are exceptionally stiff. Imagine holding a plastic, flexible water bottle in one hand and a rigid pipe in the other.

Polymers can be split into three main categories to help establish their area of application.

Thermoplastics

When heated, this material softens, and when cooled, this material becomes hard. The uniqueness here is that this process is reversible and can be repeated a number of times. It is well-suited for medical and consumer applications.

Thermosets

This material is insoluble after curing, and in contrast to thermoplastics, it cannot be melted or softened again.

The main benefit of this polymer is that it can be extensively used in composite materials when reinforced with rigid fibers. Composites have physical properties that are similar to conventional engineering materials like steel. However, as they possess significantly lower densities than metals, they are perfect for lightweight structures. Aviation applications are ideal.

Elastomers

This material has both elasticity and viscosity and can be returned to its original state after stretching. Its exceptional flexibility and chemical and fluid compatibility make it unique. This material is typically found in food and beverage, as well as semiconductor and industrial applications.

Historically, the widespread use of polymers commenced in the mid-19th century when natural polymers were chemically modified and demonstrated the exceptional abilities of polymer engineering and science.

One excellent example is Charles Goodyear, the inventor of vulcanized rubber and the technology that would ultimately lead to the rubber tires we use today. In fact, The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company is named after him.

Since Goodyear’s innovation, new polymer seals and materials have surfaced along with the achievement in various geometries using cutting-edge analytical techniques. These geometries have improved chemical, thermal and cleanliness properties.

Omniseal Solutions™ has been the leader in manufacturing polymer seals and materials for several decades as part of their Omniseal® spring-energized seals, rotary lip seals and O-Rings; Rulon® fluoropolymer bearings, piston rings, and components; and Meldin® thermoset and thermoplastic parts.

In recent years, the business added Hycomp™ composites as well as Omniseal® metal seals to turn the business into a complete high-performance plastics and metal sealing provider in a number of key industries with complex applications and extreme environments.

Polymer Sealing and Material Options

The availability of polymer seals and materials is broad and comprehensive. Polymer seals act as a mechanical barrier that offers an array of equipment protection from various kinds of leakages, abrasion and wear and tear.

Consumers of polymer seals and materials come from a diverse range of industries:

  • Aviation; where they offer weight reduction and can handle high temperatures and pressures
  • Industrial applications; where they resolve maintenance issues
  • Electronics and semiconductors; where chemical resistance is provided
  • Life science and healthcare; where they protect tools and maintain sterility
  • Space applications; where they withstand cryogenic temperatures and leakage rate.

Omniseal Solutions™ specializes in precision parts that exceed customer expectations in terms of design engineering, customization and collaboration.

Key components such as Omniseal® spring-energized and rotary lip seals, Rulon® bearings and cup seals and Meldin® piston rings and vanes are usually essential to the proper functioning of a system, and any part failure could compromise the entire system.

Their polymer solutions have been developed to be consistent and reliable solutions ideal for the application environment and offer a lifetime of durability.

Omniseal® polymer spring-energized and rotary lip seals are extremely valued for their sealing control in difficult and exacting applications such as:

  • Aviation commercial jet engines and APUs
  • Aviation helicopter gearboxes and rotor heads
  • Energy high performance and high-pressure valve seals and LNG transport
  • Life science microsurgical tools and in vitro diagnostics 
  • Space launch vehicles and satellites

Rulon® fluoropolymers and Hycomp® composites are renowned for limiting wear, friction and downtime. Thanks to these properties, they are employed in the following applications:

  • Aviation brakes and environmental controls
  • Industrial compressors, pumps and canning
  • Life science analytical equipment 

Meldin® thermosets offer dimensional stability and prolonged life at increased loads and speeds, while Meldin® thermoplastics are utilized for their tight tolerances. These polymer materials are advised for use in the following applications:

  • Aviation deicing equipment
  • Life science surgical and dental tools
  • Semiconductor wafers
  • Space satellites 

The Growth of Polymers

In industries such as aviation and space, where seals are used in several systems, and there are no clear alternatives, these stringent requirements are set to boost market growth over the coming years.

The healthcare industry has also come to adopt the use of polymer seals and materials in a wide range of applications. These include prosthetic knees and ankles, patient lifts, homogenizers, decanters and separators.

In space where extreme conditions put stress on the material function, polymers are being increasingly used in place of other heavier options such as metals.

Polymer seals from Omniseal Solutions™ have been a key player across several industries for over sixty years.

From the history-making moon landings to being used on one of the first reusable, battery-operated endoscopic staplers in the world, these polymers are advancing the world forward in a number of incredible ways.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Omniseal Solutions™.

For more information on this source, please visit Omniseal Solutions™.

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