Combining the features of a gasket and a seal tape gives us gasket tape, a hybrid product that is quite useful and reliable. In industries like automotive and aerospace, gasket and adhesive seals are key components. They are made from durable materials, have desirable properties, and exist in many forms. This article covers everything you need to know about gasket tapes.
What is a Gasket Tape?
We can define gasket tapes by looking at the two words individually. If anything, this product borrows from two conventional products.
Gaskets are seals that close the gap between two joined surfaces while seal tape is an adhesive used to securely ‘seal’ things together. Therefore, a gasket tape is essentially a gasket that has adhesive properties.
There are many types of gasket tapes. Mainly, the types are classified based on the type of adhesion it uses. You will either find heat-activated or pressure-activated types. The mechanisms of action are similar but the use cases could differ. You will learn more about this in another section of this article.
Due to the nature of their applications, gasket tapes are required to have compression, tension, and elastic properties. These are the basic characteristics that are essential to ensure that the gasket tape can sustain its environment. Rubber compounds are known to exhibit most of these properties. Therefore, gasket tapes are made from rubber.
Material Used to Make Gasket Tape
While rubber is generally used to make gasket tape, specific types of rubber compounds are more suitable than others. As you know, rubber can either be natural or synthetic. This variation also defines the properties of each type.
Natural rubber has good qualities but its synthetic counterpart is excellent. Synthetic rubber-like materials (elastomers) can withstand harsh conditions than natural rubber. This is because synthetic rubbers are usually made from inorganic compounds and they are not easily degraded.
Synthetic elastomers for making gasket tape
Mostly, the type of material used to make gasket tape depends on many factors. One, the manufacturer chooses what material best fits their products. Also, the availability of materials and customer specifications are put into consideration. However, synthetic elastomers are commonly used for the mass market.
This is a synthetic elastomer made from the monomer chloroprene. Neoprene is also known as chloroprene rubber.
Neoprene has excellent properties that would be desirable for gasket tapes. One, this compound has a high tolerance to chemicals and heat. Most applications of gasket tapes are in environments where there are a lot of these two elements. Being able to withstand the damaging effects of heat and chemicals means that the gasket tape can last long. That is why neoprene is widely used to make gasket tape.
The gasket tape made from neoprene can be classified as a closed-cell tape. These types of tapes are made from high-density foams of the material. The advantage of this is the added strength and toughness of the product.
Another common synthetic elastomer for making gasket tape is silicone. This compound is made from polysiloxane compounds, which are composed of silicon and oxygen elements.
Silicone is quite versatile. It is among the most used synthetic elastomers in the market. It has excellent properties that are needed in multiple industries, including the manufacture of gasket tapes. For instance, silicone has excellent heat and chemical resistance. Additionally, the material is resistant to compression, tension, and electrical conductivity.
Other properties of silicone such as high elongation at break also ensure that the gasket tape can be stretched and deformed to fit the application area without breaking. Mostly, silicone tapes are classified as pressure-sensitive types of gasket tape.
Have you ever heard about caulking tape? This is a special type of gasket tape used for sealing and proofing equipment against air, moisture, and other foreign elements. Butyl rubber is one of the most common materials used to make this type of tape.
Butyl rubber is known to have excellent waterproofing properties. It has remarkable hydrophobic properties, making it ideal for waterproofing. When you think about it, waterproofing is used in many cases. Think of the joints, seals, and crevices that can be found in homes, vehicles, and so forth. Butyl rubber gasket tapes seal these places perfectly.
EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer)
This type of artificial rubber is known for its excellent properties such as resistance to weathering, ozone, and UV exposure. As such, gasket tapes made from it will exhibit similar properties.
EPDM is primarily used for roofing due to its resistance to these environmental gasses. It is among rubbers that have saturated polymer backbones. This is the primary reason for its resistance to ozone, UV, and other chemicals. It is therefore used in situations where fireproofing and unwanted gas penetration are expected.
Why Synthetic Rubber is Used for Making Gasket Tapes
You may be wondering why gasket tapes are made from synthetic instead of natural rubber. Apart from synthetic variations having better properties than natural rubber, there are many reasons for this occurrence. Here are three of the common reasons.
Synthetic rubber is more customizable
Customizability is an aspect that is hugely beneficial in material fabrication. When talking about customizing something, we are referring to altering the molecular composition of the material. This allows technicians to control several properties of the final product during its synthesis.
One way that synthetic rubber is more customizable is that the latex formation can be controlled fully. For natural rubber, the latex is definite in terms of composition. On the other hand, technicians can add or exclude various compounds when making the latex. This allows for the addition of polymerization modifiers and agents that improve the properties of the rubber.
Synthetic rubber can withstand wear and tear
While natural rubber is strong enough to stretch without breaking, its elongation at break and tear resistance is low compared to synthetic rubber.
One of the major reasons for wear and tear is compression. Gasket tapes are usually sandwiched between airtight joints and crevices. Therefore, there needs to be a lot of compression resistance to prevent the material from wearing out. All four types of synthetic elastomers we highlighted earlier have demonstrated remarkable compression resistance.
Unique properties like flame retardation
Gasket tapes are used mostly for proofing against fire, gas, and water. Fireproofing products are required to have flame retardation properties.
Fire retardation is the ability of a material to contain fire without allowing it to spread. In simpler terms, it is the ability to slow or stop the spread of fire. As you can imagine, this is a very useful property for a product to have. Since gasket tapes are used in fire-prone environments, it goes a long way to use materials that are fireproof.
Chemical Properties of Gasket Tape
Typically, the chemical properties of a product made from a certain material will be similar to the chemical properties of the material. In our case, the gasket tape will exhibit chemical properties of the material it is made from; for instance, synthetic rubber.
It is worth noting that the degree of these properties will vary from one material to the other. This is influenced by the grade of the rubber, the manufacturing processes, and modifications. As such, silicone might have better properties than neoprene and vice versa. Let us discuss some of these properties in a general approach.
High chemical resistance
We have alluded to this a lot in the article. The reactivity of synthetic rubber to chemicals is poor. This can be translated to mean that synthetic rubber has a high chemical resistance.
Chemical resistance is in part determined by the chemical composition of the material. This includes the molecular composition of the polymer as well as the specific properties of these compounds. The combination of these factors creates a capable product that is highly resistant to degradation by certain chemicals.
Low water absorption
The hydrophobic properties of synthetic rubber are notable. For instance, neoprene is used to make wetsuits since it is completely waterproof.
Low water absorption or water resistance is a chemical property exhibited by many synthetic elastomers. These materials have very low perforations or openings on their surface. This is enabled by the tight bonding and high molecular density. This means that its molecular structure is compact enough not to leave any space for water molecules to flow through.
Resistant to UV degradation
Ultraviolet rays from space are harmful to organic compounds. However, since synthetic elastomers are made from inorganic compounds, they are not affected by these rays.
UV degradation is a common occurrence that messes with the molecular architecture of compounds. As a result, it breaks down the covalent bonds that hold the molecules together, thereby affecting their chemical properties.
While UV degradation affects the material at its molecular level, the impact is spread to its physical or mechanical properties. For instance, materials that are susceptible to UV degradation tend to lose color, and surface texture and eventually deform. This rarely happens to synthetic elastomers, unless their lifespan comes to an end.
High flame retardation
The ability to stop fire spread is a chemical property. Materials that catch fire quickly are said to have a low autoignition temperature. This temperature is the point at which something catches fire when exposed to heat. There are other factors such as thermal stability and fire accelerators that contribute to the spread of fire.
Several synthetic elastomers exhibit flame retardation. They have the ability to contain fire without letting it spread out easily. This happens mainly due to the chemical composition of the materials.
Specifically, carbon and hydrogen, the main elements in most elastomers, do not react excellently with oxygen which is found in fire. Provided that synthetic elastomers have few oxygen atoms, the oxygen in the fire would not react to form combustion. Hence, the fire either stops or burns slowly.
Mechanical Properties of Gasket Tape
The physical or mechanical properties of gasket tape define what we see. They are the behaviors of the material when physical pressure or force is exerted on it.
These properties help us determine how well the product, in this gasket tape, will sustain the different forces it will undergo. They include tension force, stretch, and compression forces. Let us discuss these properties in more detail.
High tensile strength
The stress that comes from pulling or stretching something is defined as tensile strength. This strength is influenced by tear and elongation at break.
High tensile strength means that the material will require a lot of force to rip it apart. Tear strength on the other hand is defined as the force required to break the rubber if it has been nicked or torn partially. Elongation refers to the stretch length that the material extends when it is pulled apart.
So, when referring to high tensile strength, we assume that the material has high tear and elongation. If these two are low, then the tensile strength is reduced. This means less force is required to break the material when pulling. Lack of high tensile strength can prove to be problematic for many applications.
When pressure is exerted on substances with low compressibility, they easily deform and do not return to the previous state. This is not the case for synthetic rubber products.
The exact mechanical property is called the compression set. This defines the ability of rubber to return to its original shape and form after the compression force is removed. On one hand, rubber has a low durometer. The durometer is the measure of the hardness or stiffness of the material. Comparably, you could say plastic has a higher durometer than rubber.
Having a low durometer means that the material is easy to deform. However, thanks to its high compression set, the material returns to its original form after the force is removed. This mechanical property is essential since it shows that the rubber gasket tape can provide its sealing functions without losing its form.
The range of temperature that gasket tapes can sustain is quite high. On the lower side, gasket tapes can sustain up to 150 degrees Celsius for extended periods while on the higher side, they can sustain up to 250 degrees Celsius.
Temperature resistance means that the gasket can function optimally when the temperature is at a certain level. Another property that contributes to this is flame retardancy. The two work together to bring out a thermal-resistant material. This is important since it means that you will not have to replace the gasket tapes so often.
Types of Gasket Tapes
Right now in the general market, you will find three common types of gasket tapes. Primarily, they are classified based on the adhesion mechanism they use. In this section, we discuss them, including their mechanism of action and their unique features.
Pressure-sensitive adhesive tape (PSA)
The adhesive properties of this type of gasket tape require pressure to function. In short, the adhesive is activated by applying pressure. Most adhesives, including conventional seal tapes and sellotape, use this mechanism.
Some common features of PSA gasket tape include;
- Easy to install
- No need to refinish the installation surface
- Very sturdy and sticky
- Reliable and durable
- Single or double-sided.
These types of gasket tape are the most common among the three.
Heat-activated taping system (HATS)
Another adhesive activator is heat. Heat is an agent used in the vulcanization or curing of rubber compounds. For these types of gasket tapes, curing is also required. This is in contrast to PSA types which do not require heat curing.
The heat is used to activate the adhesive. This approach creates a better adhesion but it is usually permanent. You will find it being used for sealing roofs, crevices, and other openings. HATS are mostly made from EPDM rubber.
HATS is more about the approach rather than the type. This means that many products and materials can apply a similar system to achieve sealing. Still, this method is preferred by many for its excellent taping and sealing properties. It works perfectly if the material and the surface are compatible with each other.
Very high bonding tape (VHB)
This is a proprietary adhesive gasket tape made exclusively by 3M Company. VHB has unmatched bonding properties across the board. Features such as double-sided design, low vibration, and sleekness make it stand out. As such, it opens up its possibilities and uses cases for multiple applications across industries.
VHB can also be replicated as a technique by other manufacturers. While the trademark rights are exclusive to 3M, the properties and features of this type of gasket tape are not. This means any manufacturer is at liberty to make something similar but under a different name.
Gasket Tape vs Other Gasket Adhesives
While gasket tapes are dominant in the market, there are other types of adhesives that are also manufactured. These are known as gasket tapes. They have subtle similarities but huge differences with gasket tapes. Let us explore these compassion features.
One of the major similarities between the two is that both serve a general purpose. The name gasket means that they are sealing the space left when two surfaces are mating. This sealing is done to prevent ingress or egress of substances.
Here are some more similarities;
- They both create secure bonding
- They have a range of applications across various industries
- They can be made from different materials
- Both have adhesive properties
These similarities are quite subtle but give you a general idea of the functionality. In that case, the differences are quite noticeable and apparent.
Gasket adhesives are quite different from gasket tapes. These differences are essential because they help you make a decision about which type of gasket to use based on this information. Let us discuss some of these differences.
- Gasket tape is usually a solid strip of rubber with an adhesive while other gasket adhesives are usually liquid paste
- The mode of application for the adhesives is different due to their physical nature
- Gasket tape binds instantly while adhesive pastes require more time to cure
- Gasket tape is easier to install than gasket adhesives
- When applied, gasket tape is easy to remove while adhesive pastes require heat or other mechanical interventions. In other words, they make permanent bonds.
- The mechanisms of bonding are different. Gasket tape bonds using adhesives while the gasket adhesives need to be converted to an adhesive.
Clearly, the differences are like day and night. On one hand, you have a material that has an adhesive lined on its surface while the other one needs to be activated to turn into an adhesive. A good example of gasket adhesive is silicone adhesive sealant.
Benefits of Gasket Tape
This product sounds like it is quite useful, and it is. The benefits of using a gasket tape compared to other forms of sealants are incomparable. Let us discuss some of these benefits.
Easy to apply
Unless the application procedures indicate otherwise, gasket tapes can be installed without prior knowledge about them. For the most part, they are like the sellotapes we use alongside other stationery.
This is why you will find gasket tapes being sold in retail stores everywhere. If you are looking to resell, you can always arrange with a rubber products manufacturer.
The cost of a rubber gasket is quite affordable by conventional standards. When you compare it against other adhesives, this becomes clear. They are competitively priced and they offer great value for money.
In applications where aesthetics are a concern, gasket tapes can uphold this concern since they look good when installed. First, they are already cut into good shapes and the non-adhesive surface is polished well. This makes it look presentable for applications such as home improvement. Also, you can paint over them to match their color to anything.
Applications of Gasket Tape
HVAC air and gas sealing
The HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) industry requires a lot of adhesives to prevent leakages. For instance, the air ventilation system needs to be airtight to ensure minimal or no air contamination. Gasket adhesives can be used in joints and crevices to achieve this.
The same goes for gas systems. Gas is highly combustible and dangerous if inhaled in large amounts. Therefore, technicians are very careful not to leave any openings that might cause leaks inside a home. Gasket tapes are used in areas where pipes connect to create an airtight binding and prevent gas leaks.
The electronics industry is another one that uses gasket tapes a lot. Use cases such as ingress protection are common applications of gasket tapes. Since synthetic rubber has demonstrated its water-repellant properties, it can be used to make a device waterproof. This is actually one of the most common uses of gasket tapes.
Automotive sealing applications
The automotive industry represents all vehicles and cars you see on the road. If some parts of these cars are taken apart, you will note at least a dozen gasket tapes.
They are used on engine parts, vehicle bodies, and also on wheels. All these areas require some form of protection against leaks and so on. Therefore, it is only responsible to use materials that have desirable properties.
This is more of a generalization of the environments where gasket tapes can be used. The outdoor environment is quite unpredictable. This means the conditions change quite frequently and they are usually not very friendly to a lot of materials.
Therefore, using gasket tape for weatherstripping for doors and windows, outdoor lighting fixtures or control panels, and edges and joints of outdoor signs and billboards counts as responsible.
Gasket tapes have continually proven to be essential components in several industries. Their properties are unmatched due to their makeup composition and their simplicity in design and application gains a lot of attention from everyone. We hope that the comprehensive overview of this product should have given you concrete information about gasket tapes.