When we talk about gaskets and the history of a gasket, we must start at the very beginning.
What is a gasket?
Ultimately, a gasket is a manufactured seal that is used to fill the gap/space between two or more surfaces.
Gaskets are typically manufactured by cutting sheet materials, offering complete flexibility in their ability to fit any application or process.
Most gaskets will undergo a series of compression tests to understand its ability to withstand compressive loads and fluctuating temperatures.
Helping to fill the void between mating surfaces since the early 1800s, seals found dating back to 1820 were manufactured using a combination of iron filings, water, and sulphur powder.
Before this, however, gaskets were made from pieces of rope called Oakum.
Ultimately, Oakum was the loose fibres found and obtained by untwisting old rope. During these times, the rope would be pulled apart, tarred, hammered, and caulked.
Primarily these seals were designed for use in the seams of boat hulls or within the edges of steam pistons, where they would be held in place by weights (this is not too dissimilar to modern-day graphite valve packing).
Leather gaskets could also be found at this time within water pumps, although leather was not a great material when it came into contact with heat and often ripped apart when it came into contact with steam.
It wasn’t until the 1850’s that rubber gaskets were invented. And by 1923, the first significant gasket supplier was founded in the UK. Whitby Chandler Ltd.
Whitby Chandler Ltd was instrumental in the development of sealing technology and, in the 1960s, soon began manufacturing compression rubber mouldings to work alongside gaskets.
Leading the way in this development, Whitby Chandler Ltd developed new high-tech machinery for gasket cutting as well as replacement products from asbestos.
By 1899 Richard Klinger became known for developing the first asbestos fibre gasket. With sheet gasket packing in this sense being used to seal and insulate locomotives and engine boilers, supporting engine parts and mechanical operations.
By the 20th Century, asbestos was the most popular material to be used and the material of choice for most gasket manufacturers.
These asbestos-related gaskets offered, at the time, an ideal solution, as they could withstand steam, chemicals, water, and high pressure. Typical applications they were used in, included the transportation of hot oils, gases, acids, and grease in mechanical systems, pumps, compressors, turbines cylinder heads and more!
By the 1980s, however, the use of asbestos began to decrease, with more and more companies now using alternative fillers for their gasket materials.
Note: The use of asbestos is now prohibited in the UK and Europe due to the severe health risk the material poses.
Today gasket manufacturers use materials such as rubber, metal, paper, silicone, neoprene, cork, fibreglass, plastic, polymers, and nitrile rubber. They can be used across a wide variety of applications covering a whole host of industrial sectors.
Manufacturing gaskets suitable for a range of applications and situations.
Evolutions of Custom-Made Gaskets
Gaskets are versatile and varied. It’s what makes them so user-friendly and suitable for a wide range of processes.
At Specialist Sealing Products (SSP), we are a leading gasket manufacturer and supplier. Distributing throughout the UK, we provide precision-engineered gaskets, custom made to suit your specific requirements.
Meeting the most demanding of applications, we work with our clients to ensure excellence across the board, carrying out rigorous assessments and tests to provide the best cutting-edge gasket solutions around.
We pride ourselves in maintaining the highest standards of quality control at every stage of the manufacturing process to ensure the highest performance levels of your bespoke gasket.
Gaskets provide a valuable function to a range of processes and industrial sectors.
To find out more and see how Specialist Sealing Products can help you, visit www.specialistsealingproducts.co.uk