Liquid foam sealing and formed-in-place foam gaskets have been used for decades across a range of industries. Simply put, they are a liquid applied substance that then hardens to form the seal.
There are a few different methods of generating these high specification foam seals, Robafoam specialises in a single component foam system which we will focus on as an example. We believe our product and process gives you the best sealant on the market, and in this piece, we are going to discuss some of the benefits of foam sealing and what makes foam sealing so good.
What is foam sealing, foam gasketing, formed-in-place gasketing and formed-in-place foam gasketing?
The standard definition of a foam formed in place gasket or seal is that the seal material being applied is a liquid; this way it can flow into the groove or intimately mate with the surface it has been applied to. Because of this, formed in place foam gaskets can be applied to a wide range of surface finishes, part geometries and can vary in size and shape as it’s applied depending on the flow rate and dispensing rate of the material.
Once on the surface, the liquid then has to undergo some form of curing; this can be heat cured, a two-component chemical reaction or air-cured.
Most of the foam materials being applied (and non-foamed materials) are either thixotropic or have high viscosities which stops them from losing their shape when sat on the surface.
What is the aim of a Foam Gasket?
The aim of using a formed in place seal is to create a truly bespoke seal that is applied directly to the part. This means the sea is bonded onto the part either onto a flat surface or more often, into a groove which ensures that the most intimate seal can be formed and any surface imperfections such as sink within a moulded part or surface scratches on a metal part do not affect the seal performance as the seal will fill the gaps and not just sit on the surface.
Methods of applying foam seals
Depending on the level of accuracy and the performance requirements of the seal, you can apply these seals in two main ways:
Manually Applied Foam Seal Straight from the Cartridge
Foam can be applied straight from the canister, this is a cost-effective answer for many people who are looking for high resistance insulation for home projects. Manufacturers make foam sealing systems easy to use and accessible for this method of application as well, so it is a great solution that comes with an array of benefits. Here are some of the key factors to take into account:
Manually Applied Sealing Foam is Only as Good as the Operator
We have already discussed the great assets of polyurethane foam, and how its properties lend themselves to being a perfect solution for sealant needs. another great benefit is that it can be applied manually, on the other hand though, this means your foam seal is only as good as its operator. To have an effective barrier, you need to have the foam effectively applied to the required areas.
Manually Applied Foam Gaskets are Cheaper than other Solutions
The physical properties of foam types for sealing purposes are a great form of resistance at a lower cost; especially when manually applied. However, as previously mentioned, to get the best application generally you will need some experience.
Good Enough for Low to Mid IP Ratings
When a foam gasket is manually applied, it is good enough for low to mid IP ratings, good for NVH reduction, bonding, potting and cushioning.
Using Robafoam Technology to Robotically Apply Foam Components
Here at Robafoam, we have a tried and tested way to apply a foam gasket effectively compared to other application methods; hence, offering you the best resistance and insulation properties. Here are some key factors about our method:
More Reliable Resistance
For the best repeatability and accuracy, applying a seal by robot ensures the seal is the same every time. Using this method, you can control the seal very accurately, this can allow for tolerances to 1/10th mm which can be important for technical applications.
Better for Large Projects
Perfect for large projects where tooling can be manufactured, leading to high throughput of parts with low numbers of rejects and low downtime.
Top IP Ratings
With a higher degree of accuracy, this is the best way to get top IP ratings and the highest performance for NVH reduction, bonding, potting and cushioning.