How to predict future sealing performance
Sealing solutions for cable and pipe penetrations may stay passive for years, and only do their crucial job of protecting life and assets when an incident occurs. That is why preparatory testing and verification is so important. At Roxtec, the sealing experts even let rubber and seals travel in time.
“By simulating the aging process, we can predict what will happen to the seals in the long run,” says Niklas Åkesson, who is a Product Engineer specializing in test methods at Roxtec. “These insights enable us to develop and improve solutions as well as to know what level of protection we can promise.”
The temperature cabinets for temp-cycling in the Roxtec laboratory are sophisticated. The engineers and test technicians can expose materials, components and entire sealing systems to a range of air humidity levels combined with temperatures ranging from -60 °C to +180 °C. It is not just a way of verifying to what extent the components withstand the cold and the heat of demanding environments. When you temp-cycle, you can simulate the process of time and thereby conduct tests “in the future”.
“We create the aging effect to make sure we provide solutions that are reliable for years,” says Niklas Åkesson. “It gives us a possibility to help our customers avoid unpleasant surprises in the field. We have an aging oven for long-term testing as well, and we can place our seals in the door of a cabinet to expose one side of the transit to changing temperatures, and let the other side remain in ambient temperature.”
Special material tests
Some products stay for weeks or months in the cabinets even though the technology can make time go so fast forward. The sealing experts at Roxtec follow existing standards, but they also do research for new test methods. This is useful when you develop new materials or products – or when customers present special needs requiring special solutions. You may want to test a transit through temp-cycling for many weeks and then directly perform a tough fire test.
The testing is important for several reasons. It is vital to investigate how watertightness and gas-tightness can be affected over time, but also to make sure the products meet the continuously increasing requirements. According to Niklas Åkesson, the testing process gives very valuable input to the material and product development at Roxtec. He welcomes strict and purposeful official demands:
”Anyone working seriously with safety systems knows that you want to ensure proven performance throughout the lifetime of the system.”