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Choosing the Right High Temperature Product Based on Application

Posted by Polymer Technologies on 12/11/15 11:47 AM
Manufacturers often run into situations where they are dealing with extraordinarily high temperatures. Depending on the specific attributes of the situation, these temperatures can have a dramatic effect on the performance, safety, and longevity of a piece of equipment. Materials can quickly break down when exposed to high temperature or prolonged heat exposure. Choosing the right materials, then, to handle a high temperature situation becomes critically important not only in terms of the usability of the machinery but also the safety and durability of the machinery. Sometimes operators or components need to be kept at very stable temperatures such as within walls and HVAC ducts. In other instances, high temperatures are simply a function of the machinery itself as with fuselages, gas tanks, and exhaust pipes, and need to be managed accordingly.

The problem with silicone-based solutions

Silicone foams are typically used for situations where gasketing is required. This is because it combines excellent resilience to mechanical fatigue with low flame spread and smoke density values, making it ideal for high temperature situations. Its capacity to withstand highly demanding environments means that it is typically used in applications such as transportation and medical locations.

The trouble with using silicone-based solutions, though, is that they can be prohibitively expensive. They may be ideal for small-scale projects and one-off use, but scaling a project up can result in significant costs. Manufacturers are then forced to look for options using other materials. Fortunately, there are plenty to choose from and can be tailored to fit any problem.  

Other materials for high temperature gasketing

While silicone has the best temperature stability of any commercially available materials, there are other options when gasketing is necessary, but the cost of silicone is deemed too high. In these instances, EPDM, Fluorosilicone, and Fluorocarbon are good alternatives due to their good heat resistance. EPDM is capable of operating in temperatures of up to 400°F, while Fluorosilicone and Fluorocarbon are both capable of operating in the 400°F-500°F range, similar to silicone. Ultimately, the effectiveness of gasketing material relies on its ability to maintain its mechanical properties and to continue to perform as it’s designed to within a specific application without breaking down.  

Melamine foam high temperature materials

If gasketing is not a requirement, POLYDAMP® Melamine Foam (PMF) and POLYDAMP® Hydrophobic Melamine Foam (PHM) are two examples of materials that offer excellent resistance to high temperatures as well as offering other useful properties. Both PMF and PHM, for instance, provide excellent acoustic insulation in addition to their heat resistance properties, while PHM offers water resistant properties previously unavailable in standard melamine foams.

What to look for in high temperature materials

Finding the right high temperature material requires a clear understanding of the specifics of the situation you are looking for a material for. Try to take into account the following attributes of the application:

  • Whether the material will be used for gasketing
  • The specific temperature range the material will need to be resistant to
  • Whether low smoke generation properties are needed
  • The necessity of low flame propagation
  • Which thermal issues will the material need to be resistant to:
    • Conduction
    • Convection
    • Radiation

You want quality materials that are durable and will withstand the harsh conditions of the application and have a long service life so you don’t have to go back and make replacements. Selecting the right high temperature material will ensure your manufacturing project is as safe and efficient as possible.

The wide variety of thermal insulation materials means there is likely the appropriate material out there for any application. Finding the right high temperature product for the specific needs of a manufacturer is a highly-contextual and application-specific process. 

Read the Case Study:   POLYFORM® Molded Products Thermal Imaging Device

Topics: Flammability