The importance of properly sealed components 31 March 2020

By Jackie Hackett, director of global sales and marketing, APM Hexseal

Users that work with electronics or machinery in hostile or challenging environments, know the value of keeping equipment in peak condition. After all, even the slightest flaw in a system could force it to be taken out of commission altogether, leading to substantial financial and productivity losses.

One of the best ways to make sure that equipment stays up and running in the face of adversity is to make sure that its components are properly sealed. It’s not always easy to determine whether the integrity of seals is up to par, so how can you tell when there is a problem?

Better yet, how do you proactively prevent the problem from ever occurring? For guidance on selecting the right sealing solution for an application, the experts at APM Hexseal are able to help. Our high-quality, time tested products are reusable, and most are UL listed, making them a wise economic choice for applications that require frequent maintenance or for NEMA rated enclosures.

A hostile environment is a setting in which typical atmospheric, geographical or surrounding climatic conditions could damage a piece of equipment. These conditions can vary based on the equipment’s location – but they can affect both indoor and outdoor electronics and equipment. As might be expected, unsealed electrical devices are much more likely to succumb in hostile environments than other pieces of equipment.

A switch box, enclosure or control panel located outdoors, for example, could be exposed to hostile environmental conditions including precipitation, chemicals, moisture, prolonged sun or wind exposure, or sudden changes in air pressure or temperature. Indoor equipment can face similar challenges and risks. Common contaminants such as water, oil, fluids, salt, air, dust, dirt, grease, vapours, chemicals, and even spilled beverages, can seep into housings and enclosures containing electronics and cause equipment to malfunction or fail.

There are three main causes of equipment failure in a hostile environment; obsolescence, accident, and surface degradation. The most common is surface degradation, which is typically caused by corrosion and mechanical wear. When unsealed equipment is exposed to water or other fluids, the water will often cause the housing surfaces to rust.

Additionally, water can increase the oxidation level in oil, which can change its pH and ultimately cause a machine to develop an acidic setting inside of it – encouraging further corrosion. One way to easily avoid such corrosion issues is to perform routine preventative maintenance on a machine. The use of protective solutions is also essential in preventing electrical devices from encountering contaminants that can affect the performance of equipment.

At APM Hexseal, we have products that are specifically designed to keep devices safe from these common sources of damage, no matter what environment they operate in. From self-sealing hardware to sealing boots and switch covers, we have what is needed to keep equipment running for years to come.

Common threats that APM Hexseal guards against include:

  • Extreme temperatures: APM Hexseal’s products provide effective insulation against extreme heat and cold. Common applications include military vehicles and machinery, paving or plowing machines, construction and drilling equipment, outdoor/survival gear and laboratory equipment.
  • Oil and chemicals: Sealing solutions can protect machinery against spills and leaks from oil and chemicals. Common applications include drilling and downhole equipment, HVAC systems, security and access control systems, as well as scientific and agricultural instruments to prevent exposure to contaminants such as fertilisers, inclement weather and manure.
  • Food, beverages and other fluids: APM Hexseal products help prevent even the stickiest or greasiest foods and beverages from interfering with equipment performance. Food processing and handling equipment and beverage dispensing systems are common applications for solutions.
  • Water and weather: Keeping water from seeping into electronics is paramount to continued functionality. Water is death to an electronic component, unless it is properly protected. In dirty or industrial environments, this can be challenging, but APM Hexseal products are used in applications as diverse as electrical panels, marine and boating electronics, renewable energy systems, subsea exploration, air, land and sea navigation, aerospace and defence, medical and hazmat washdowns, outdoor construction equipment and transportation control and steering systems.
  • Road salt: No one likes a slick road in the winter, but sometimes the salts used to increase traction on the road can be even more damaging to vehicles and equipment over time. APM Hexseal products can help protect electronics and mechanical systems on cars, transit systems, municipal, construction and utility vehicles, from salt and sand corrosion.
  • Air: Preventing air from leaking out and causing a loss of pressure is especially important in applications such as aviation, hydraulics, pressure gauges and testing equipment.
  • Dirt, dust, and sand: Keeping damaging particles sediments out of equipment is critical to maintaining peak performance. For electronic equipment used outdoors such as construction machinery operation panels or military equipment used in harsh environments such as deserts, proper sealing can ensure continued operation of communication, navigation and control systems in mission critical applications.

With the loss of electrical power can also come the loss of productivity, which will eventually translate into lost business and revenue. An electrical system’s enclosures, panels, circuit breakers, and cables, are so interdependent that a short circuit in one component can impact the entire system. Common causes of malfunction in electrical systems include loose connections, contaminants such as dust and moisture, supply line surges, insulation deterioration, and overload conditions.

Malfunctions in mechanical and electrical equipment are one of the biggest problems affecting manufacturers. When they occur, they can have devastating and lasting effects not only on business operations, but on a company’s overall profits. One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to avoid these challenges is to protect equipment with the proper sealing solutions. As the saying goes: ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’. At APM Hexseal, we have a variety of products that will protect equipment from potential breakdowns, and also help to prevent failures, outages, work stoppage and loss of revenue.

APM Hexseal designs and manufactures a variety of sealing fasteners and hardware specifically to guard against the type of contaminants that can cause catastrophic failures.

The standard products include:

  • Toggle boots for switches: These provide a straightforward, back-and-forth actuation, making them easy to operate. Sold in several different designs, all toggle boots have APM Hexseal’s signature sealing rib to ensure that equipment is protected.
  • Pushbutton boots: Are specially designed to protect switches of all styles and sizes that use a push or press motion.
  • Rotary boots: Are known for their unique twisting motion and their ability to withstand the friction created by the shaft’s rotation – without restricting the actuation’s motion.
  • Circuit breaker boots: Are designed to not only protect these critical components from short circuiting, but to extend their lifespan, reinforcing the stability of the entire electrical system.
  • Rocker boots: Made from APM Hexseal’s unique transparent silicone RUBRGLAS™, the rocker boots are designed to be installed on the switch prior to the switch installation.
  • Bushing seals: Pack all the sealing power of a boot but focus on the mounting hole as opposed to the switch.
  • Seelskrews® and Seelbolts®: These self-sealing screws and bolts offer a reliable, reusable seal that will prevent any contaminants from interfering with your equipment.
  • Seelnuts®: These self-sealing hexagonal nuts have a moulded, single piece design that creates a more consistent and reliable seal.
  • Seeloc® washers: These washers are made of moulded silicone rubber that bonds to specially formed stainless steel washers. These reusable washers are ideal for applications that require periodic maintenance or adjustments.

Since 1947, APM Hexseal has been the leader in developing and manufacturing sealing solutions that prolong the life of sensitive electronic and mechanical components and systems in hostile environments. From self-sealing boots and fasteners in a wide array of moulded elastomeric options, to a full design and manufacturing team ready for custom engineered sealing solutions, we have what is needed to maximise performance from every component.

“To learn more about our offerings and capabilities, contact us today and let us help you find the perfect sealing solution. When failure is not an option, 'Cover it. Seal it. Protect it'. Ask the experts at APM Hexseal!”

www.apmhexseal.com

Editor

Will Lowry Editor t: +44 (0) 1727 814 509

Biog

Will joined Fastener + Fixing Magazine in 2007 and over the last 12 years has experienced every facet of the fastener sector - interviewing key figures within the industry and visiting leading companies and exhibitions around the globe.

Will manages the content strategy across all platforms and is the guardian for the high editorial standards that the Magazine is renowned.