AN INFLATABLE SEAL OR A BEAST?
Recently, at Western Rubbers, we received an inquiry from an American construction company for an inflatable seal. The client requirement, as received by us was as follows:
PRODUCT: Inflatable seal
MATERIAL: EPDM (black)
PROFILE CROSS SECTION: 150 mm by 100 mm
SEAL LENGTH: 9 meters
SEAL GEOMETRY: Circul
Manufacturing an inflatable seal with dimensions as mentioned above is not very common. Trusting our years of experience in manufacturing inflatable seals, Western Rubbers took up this challenge. Here is how we fulfilled the client’s requirement:
SOLUTION BY WESTERN RUBBER
The plan was to extrude the inflatable seal profile and then join it to form a circular seal, 9 meters in length. The extrusion die was ready (image attached below). The process of extrusion began. However, as the rubber started extruding in the required profile, the center portion of the seal i.e. the bulb of the seal started collapsing due to its weight.
In order to solve the above, unprecedented, issue, we decided to redesign the profile. We had to work on reducing the weight of the bulb without compromising on seal size and functionality. And so, Western Rubbers did some R&D and came up with the design shown in adjacent image.
We were confident that this design of the seal would work. Little did we know, it wasn’t going to come so easy to us and we were going to be challenged yet again. The rubber was extruded through the modified extrusion die. The rubber extruded beautifully in the beginning for one meter and we had another 8 meters of extrusion required for a complete seal. However, a little aer the first meter, the collapsing started again! This time, the cause of collapsing was not the bulb, but instead the weight of the side walls of the seal.
We were convinced that for a seal, this big, rubber extrusion was not going to work. And so, after some more R&D, the team finally decided to go in for a 100% molding process to fabricate this seal. This process is cost and labor intensive. However, it does guarantee accurate seal dimensions.
Getting the perfect seal at our customer’s doorstep was our only goal from the beginning.
We successfully completed molding this 9 meter long seal. It was joined to form a circular inflatable seal expanding outwards. The dimensions of the seal were checked to accuracy with the help of a measuring gauge. The seal was then put through pressure and other quality control tests. The seal was passed by our Quality Control team and was dispatched to the customer.
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