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Elasto Proxy's Sealing Solutions Blog

Elasto Proxy's Sealing Solutions Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about the design and custom fabrication of rubber and plastic components. For nearly 25 years, our family-owned company has provided high-quality, low-volume seals to a variety of industries. Doug Sharpe, Elasto Proxy's co-founder, is a former president of the International Sealing Distribution Association (ISD), a not-for-profit trade association that enhances member success through information, education, and interaction. By blogging for CR4 in this same supportive and collaborative spirit, Doug and other members of the Elasto Proxy team will share our experiences with you.

Spall Liners for Military Vehicles

Posted May 23, 2017 12:39 PM by Doug Sharpe

Spall liners for military vehicles protect soldiers from flying fragments (spall) of metal inside of the crew compartment. They’re made of energy-absorbing materials and can be fabricated into panels or blankets. Spall liners attach to the inside of a vehicle’s structural armor and line the interior surfaces of tanks, fighting vehicles, and personnel carriers. By reducing the risk of serious of injury to military personnel, these custom-fabricated components serve as a type of interior armor.

Elasto Proxy makes spall panels, spall blankets, and other types of spall linings for military land systems. We use water jet cutting to create smooth, straight lines and can make angled cuts for edges that conform to vehicle contours. With our custom fabrication capabilities, Elasto Proxy can create spall liners with fastener holes for permanent installation, or that support Velcro fasteners for temporary attachment. We can also laminate materials together to create strong, durable composites for military vehicles.

The Science of Spalling

When a mine or improvised explosive device (IED) is detonated, the impact may not be powerful enough to pierce the armor of a military vehicle. Yet the shock wave is still strong enough to pass through the structural armor and cause damage. That’s because the metal surfaces inside of a vehicle can only withstand so much stress before fracture occurs. If the impact from a pressure wave shatters this metal, spall is propelled towards the vehicle’s occupants at high velocities.

Mines and IEDs aren’t the only threats that armored vehicles face, however. With kinetic energy weapons, the mass and velocity of the projectile is designed to cause spalling inside of the vehicle. Chemical energy weapons such as high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) systems can also defeat military vehicles from the inside out. Other sources of spall include small caliber ballistics, hand grenades, and shaped charges – devices that are designed to focus the effects of an explosive’s energy.

Spall Liners: Materials and Types

Spall liners for military vehicles are usually made of laminates of aramid, glass, or high-density polyethylene (HDPE) fibers, materials that provide strong impact resistance. Fire-retardant grades are used to promote solider safety. Early spall liners were made of E-glass laminates and developed in accordance with DEF STAN 93-111/1, a U.K. defense standard. U.S. military standards continue to evolve since the original MIL-L-62,474B specification. Today, some spall liners are laminated to ceramic plates.

There are two main types of spall linings. Spall panels are rubber-coated composites that use a resin system. They’re stiff, durable, and suitable for vehicle locations where visibility is high and physical support is low. Spall blankets are more flexible, and consist of layers of fibers that are encapsulated by a polymer for protection against moisture, wear, dust, and UV light. Both types of spall liners can incorporate part features such as holes for fasteners.

Spall Liners: Value-Added Manufacturing

Designers of military vehicles need to account for more than just spall liner materials and manufacturing methods. Tight tolerances are important because pressure waves can enter through “ballistic windows”, small gaps between joined surfaces. The way that protective products are installed and removed is important, too. Metal fasteners require hand tools. Adhesive spraying raises environmental health and safety concerns. Elasto Proxy can fabricate spall liners such as spall blankets that attach with hook-and-loop (Velcro) fasteners that provide high tensile strength and high shear strength.

Meet Elasto Proxy at CANSEC 2017

For more information about spall liners from Elasto Proxy, please contact us. If you plan to attend CANSEC 2017, visit us in Booth 1010. From May 31 to June 1, we’ll be showcasing samples of our military products at the EY Centre in Ottawa.

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Engine Bay Insulation for Military Vehicles

Posted May 16, 2017 4:55 PM by Doug Sharpe

Engine bay insulation for military vehicles keeps noise and heat in the engine bay from reaching the passenger compartment. The diesel engines that power military land systems run loud and hot, raising concerns about solider health and safety. Warfighters need to be able to hear each other above engine sounds, and a vehicle where the air conditioning runs full-blast is less fuel-efficient. Hotter vehicles also have stronger heat signatures, making them more susceptible to thermal detection by hostile forces.

Thermal-acoustic insulation is important, but manufacturers of military vehicles also need to protect on-board electronics and instruments from sound-induced vibrations. Otherwise, these noise disturbances can shorten equipment life through component failure. Resistance to flash and fire supports the mission, too. Engine bay insulation must also resist oil and automotive chemicals, withstand washdowns with water and detergents, and support cost-effective fabrication.

Engine Bay Insulation and Custom Fabrication

For a complete engine bay solution, makers of military land systems choose custom insulation from Elasto Proxy. For over 25 years, we’ve been an important part of the defense supply chain. By layering thermal and acoustic materials together, we build sandwich-like structures that attach to engine firewalls and meet specific thermal-acoustic requirements.

At Elasto Proxy, we use water jet equipment to cut smooth, straight lines and chamfers with 30° or 45° angles. With water jet cutting, there are no tooling charges or waiting for tooling. So if you change your design, just send us your new drawings or CAD files. Water jet cutting complements our lamination and taping capabilities, and supports quick-turn prototypes with multiple iterations.

ZMT: Engine Bay Insulation Example

ZMT insulation from Elasto Proxy consists of silicone foam, a neoprene facing, aluminum foil, and a pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) tape. This type of engine bay insulation has a temperature range of -60° F to +400° F and a noise reduction coefficient (NRC) of 0.3.

The silicone foam in ZMT insulation combines high-temperature resistance with a compression set that’s comparable to natural rubber even at elevated temperatures. Silicone also repels water, resists weathering, won’t dry out, and is difficult to ignite. The neoprene facing that’s used with ZMT insulation has a relatively high burn point. The aluminum foil reflects radiant heat from the engine.

The PSA that’s used with ZMT insulation resists heat, humidity, and some solvents. As a “best of both worlds” solution, this double-sided PSA tape features a silicone adhesive on the foam bonding side and an acrylic adhesive on the end-use side. Silicone adhesives resist higher temperatures. Acrylic PSAs provide reliable adhesion to metal surfaces.

Firewall Insulation: Coated Fabrics and Barrier Materials

Elasto Proxy also supplies engine bay insulation that uses coated fabric as the facing material or as an inner layer. Examples include silicone-coated fiberglass, a high-temperature textile that provides increased tear and abrasion resistance. For increased toughness and abrasion resistance, nylon materials can be coated with urethanes.

Engine bay insulation can also include barrier materials (such as vinyl) that attenuate sounds over a broad frequency range, or a particular range of frequencies. Barrier materials that serve as low-frequency de-couplers are especially helpful in preventing the low rumble of a diesel engine from penetrating the acoustical foams used in engine bay insulation.

Meet Elasto Proxy at CANSEC 2017

For more information about Elasto Proxy’s custom insulation capabilities, please contact us. If you plan to attend CANSEC 2017, visit us in Booth 1010. From May 31 to June 1, we’ll be showcasing samples of our engine bay insulation and other military products at the EY Centre in Ottawa.

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Heat Blankets for Mobile Equipment

Posted May 09, 2017 4:55 PM by Doug Sharpe

Heat blankets for mobile equipment support engine performance, operator comfort, and pollution control. In diesel-powered equipment, heat blankets wrap around the exhaust pipe that’s under the hood. These exhaust blankets keep heat from spreading to nearby engine components and into the cab where the operator sits. Within the exhaust system itself, hotter gases help to deliver more power and better mileage. Higher exhaust system temperatures also eliminate pollutants more effectively.

To handle the high temperatures from diesel exhaust systems, heat blankets are cut from silicone-coated fiberglass fabric or other heat-resistant cloth. They are sewn with high-temperature thread made of Kevlar or fiberglass, and can have metal snaps or Velcro fasteners for ease-of-installation. Elasto Proxy custom-fabricates heat blankets for mobile equipment and works with diesel equipment owners who need to achieve Tier 4 compliance, a strict pollution control standard from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Why You Need Heat Blankets

The EPA’s Tier 4 standard is the latest in a series of regulations that are designed to reduce emissions from off-road diesel engines. To promote Tier 4 compliance, mobile equipment manufacturers are installing powerplants that use ultra-low sulfur fuel and CJ-4 low ash oil. These petroleum products produce lower levels of nitrogen oxides (NoX), but Tier 4 also requires diesel particulate filters (DPF) that trap particulate matter (PM) in the exhaust stream.

In a diesel exhaust system, PM that isn’t incinerated near the point of combustion flows downstream. Over time, accumulations of soot and ash can clog the DPF. Because these large ceramic filters are difficult to service and expensive to replace, fleet owners and operators want ways to reduce maintenance costs and prevent equipment downtime. Wrapping a heat blanket around the exhaust pipe increases the temperature near the point of combustion so that more PM is eliminated right at the source.

How Heat Blankets Are Better

Heat blankets aren’t the only type of exhaust insulation that can be used with mobile equipment, but exhaust blankets provide advantages over heat shields and exhaust wrap. Typically, heat shields are made of inexpensive metals that are prone to rust and corrosion. Heat shields also have welds that can break, or use fasteners that can loosen from vibrations. Heat shields can use aluminum foil instead of metal plates, but thin-gauge metal materials are subject to tearing and folding.

Fiberglass exhaust wraps provide another alternative to heat blankets, but this type of exhaust insulation presents its own challenges. For starters, wrapping or unwrapping an exhaust pipe takes time, which increases your labor costs. The fabric requires cutting, but is also subject to fraying. Plus, unless maintenance personnel wrap the pipe tightly enough, the insulation may lose some of its effectiveness. To hold the exhaust wrap in place, fasteners such as thermal ties, hose clamps, or wire are required.

Where Heat Blankets Save You Time and Money

Compared to other types of exhaust insulation, heat blankets from Elasto Proxy are reliable and cost-effective. Unlike heat shields, high-temperature textiles won’t rust and can withstand vibrations. Unlike exhaust wrap, there’s no cutting, fraying, or fussing with complicated fasteners. You can choose heat blankets with metal snaps, or that use Velcro instead. Either way, these built-in-fasteners are easy-to-attach and hold securely in place. They also detach readily when engine maintenance is required.

Elasto Proxy works closely with the mobile equipment industry and can custom-fabricate heat blankets to your exact specifications. We also offer design assistance and can help you with material selection so that your heat blankets use the right materials in the proper thicknesses. Elasto Proxy also supply other types of mobile equipment insulation such as cab insulation, engine bay insulation, rubber floor mats, and rubber gaskets for doors and windows.

To learn more about our capabilities and how we can help you, please contact us.

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Rubber Gaskets for Mobile Equipment: Doors and Windows

Posted May 02, 2017 4:55 PM by Doug Sharpe

Rubber gaskets for mobile equipment provide sealing and insulation for doors and windows. They prevent the entry of outside air and water, but also absorb road and engine noise. For mobile equipment manufacturers, the right rubber gaskets need to provide both environmental sealing and acoustic insulation. Otherwise, unwanted sounds can enter the cab where the operator sits. Seals that admit wind, water, dirt, or outdoor temperatures are problematic, but so is mobile equipment insulation that fails to reduce noise levels.

Gasket quality is important, but design engineers and sourcing managers also need to consider material costs. This includes not just the gasket rubber, but also the method of attachment, such as clips, fasteners, or liquid adhesives. Engineers and buyers also need to consider the tools, skills, and capabilities of the personnel who will install rubber gaskets for mobile equipment. Outsourcing your gasket fabrication may seem expensive, but consider your true costs.

Rubber Gaskets: Quality and Costs

Rubber gaskets that are custom-fabricated and installed properly emphasize the quality of your mobile equipment. When a potential buyer enters a cab, door seals with clean cuts and a snug fit make a positive first impression. So do well-made window channels and weather stripping. If a rubber part is poorly cut or installed improperly, you may not get another chance to convince a potential customer about your product’s most exciting features.

There are labor and material costs to consider, too. Cutting a length of rubber with a utility knife may seem cost-effective, but what’s the cost of material waste? If an operator measures or cuts incorrectly, the length of rubber will end up as scrap – and the sourcing manager may never know. There are also labor costs to evaluate. How long does it take to cut the right length of rubber, bond the gasket, and apply it to the body or door? Once the gasket is installed, how long will the seal last?

For mobile equipment manufacturers, bonding cut lengths can be especially time-consuming. The employees who perform these operations may be highly-skilled in other areas, but they don’t specialize in gluing gaskets. Asking a metal fabricator to bond rubber might make sense if the employee is idle, but expect some material waste – especially if employees don’t have the tools, skills, or experience in gluing gaskets. There’s also the opportunity cost of having employees who are skilled in other areas spend their time on gasket fabrication instead.

Rubber Gaskets: Custom Fabrication

Elasto Proxy custom-fabricates door seals, weather stripping, and window channels that add value to your mobile equipment. At our manufacturing center near Montreal, Canada, we use water jet cutting equipment to cut lengths of rubber with speed and precision. Because of the accuracy and tight tolerances we can achieve, Elasto Proxy eliminates the material waste that’s associated with utility knives and box cutters. Water jet cutting avoids tooling costs and supports quick-turn prototypes, too.

When gasket cutting is finished, Elasto Proxy bonds your cut lengths together. Film splicing, cold bonding, C-press injection molding, and vulcanizing each have their advantages. Infrared splicing does, too. Typically, selecting a splicing method depends upon run quantity, performance requirements, material type, and tooling costs. That’s why our technical team analyzes all of your needs before recommending a splicing method. Our skilled production personnel then create the strong, reliable bonds you need.

Elasto Proxy also provides kitting services and taped gaskets. So when your door seals, windows channels, or weather stripping arrives, just open the box. Everything you need is inside, and your assemblers won’t have to use hand tools or apply messy liquid adhesives. Installing a taped gasket is as easy as peeling the release liner and sticking the rubber part to the door or body. Elasto Proxy fabricates cab insulation, engine bay insulation, and rubber floor mats, too.

For more information about how custom gasket fabrication can save mobile equipment manufacturers time and money, contact Elasto Proxy.

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Rubber Floor Mats for Mobile Equipment

Posted April 25, 2017 4:55 PM by Doug Sharpe

Rubber floor mats for mobile equipment protect the cabin floor, support employee safety, and provide acoustic insulation. The metal flooring that’s used inside the cab is strong and durable, but operators track mud, snow, dirt, and water inside. Rubber floor mats protect these metal surfaces and help reduce slip-and-fall hazards. Rubber flooring that’s laminated to acoustic insulation also helps to absorb noise from the engine compartment, which is often directly below the cab where the operator sits.

Unlike carpeting, rubber floor matting won’t stain. Rubber is also easier-to-clean and offers greater wear resistance than fabric. In a mobile equipment cab, an operator’s feet may remain in the same position for extended periods of time. With carpet floor mats, heel wear can cause holes in the fabric. This exposes the subfloor, introduces a potential safety hazard, and provides a path for engine sounds. Rubber flooring can also be used as a kick-plate to protect cab walls from contact with an operator’s boots.

Rubber Floor Mats: Design Assistance and Material Selection

To protect the cabin and the operator, mobile equipment manufacturers choose rubber floor mats from Elasto Proxy. By reviewing your CAD files, we can help prepare your mobile equipment insulation for manufacturing. We can also help you with material selection so that your cabin flooring matches the larger color scheme of your mobile equipment, including the cab insulation. Typically, rubber flooring is black; however, Elasto Proxy can also custom-fabricate rubber floor mats in colors such as gray or brown.

As part of the material selection process, our solutions providers may recommend rubber with a pebbled texture or with recessed, diamond-shaped features that can catch water. These durable surface materials are laminated to an acoustical foam that’s typically 3/8” or 5/8” thick. With larger diesel-powered equipment, thicker foams are used. Elasto Proxy has the technical expertise to recommend the right acoustical foam and thickness for your specific noise levels and decibel reduction requirements.

Rubber Floor Mats: Lamination and Water Jet Cutting

After Elasto Proxy laminates the rubber surface material to the acoustical foam, we use water jet cutting to produce floor mats that meet your precise dimensional specifications. By sending your CAD files directly to our digital equipment, we can meet tight tolerances. With the rubber flooring that’s near the driver’s seat, we can cut precise openings for the arms that attach to the gas and brake pedals. With the kick plates that meet the cab insulation, we create clean, straight lines.

Water jet cutting is ideal for cutting bolt holes for cab seats, but this custom fabrication technique can also tighten controls over project costs. Because there are no tools or waiting for tooling, you can get quick-turn prototypes and change your floor mat designs cost-effectively. Water jet cutting is also a smart choice for low-to-medium volume manufacturing because you only order the materials that you need. So whether you’re introducing new mobile equipment or replacing rubber flooring, contact Elasto Proxy.

Rubber Floor Mats: Get Elasto Proxy’s Sample Insulation Kit

Rubber floor mats from Elasto Proxy don’t just resist mud, snow, dirt, and water. They also absorb engine sounds and support your engine bay insulation. If you’re looking for rubber floor mats for mobile equipment, we’d like to hear from you. For over 25 years, Elasto Proxy has supplied custom sealing and insulation solutions to companies like yours.

Do you need samples that you can show to purchasing, engineering, or operations? Then request Elasto Proxy’s sample insulation kit. Packaged in a black-and-orange cinch bag, this sample bag contains representative samples of mobile equipment insulation from Elasto Proxy.

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