The History of Gaskets

The History of Gaskets

Temel Gaskets began manufacturing gaskets in 1974, but the entire history of gaskets spans over a century earlier. What is a gasket exactly? A gasket is “a mechanical seal that fills the space between two or more mating surfaces and is usually manufactured by cutting sheet materials.” Ideally, the material should have some degree of flexibility to fit any irregularities. Gaskets are usually made of flat material and some require a sealant to the gasket surface. A gasket is believed to last longer if it carries a heavier load, and undergoes a compression test to measure its “ability to withstand compressive holding.”

In 1820 pack iron fillings, sulphur powder, and water were combined to make a solid iron sulphate seal. Before 1840, many gaskets were made from pieces of rope called Oakum. After the rope was picked apart, workers tarred, hammered, and caulked it into seams of boat hulls, or lubricated and packed it into the edges of steam pistons in Newcomen style engines and held in place with weights. That technique is comparable to modern-day graphite valve packing. During this time, leather gaskets were used for water pumps, even though the leather gradually tore apart when it came into contact with steam. Heat resistant rubber gaskets were not invented until after 1850, with the discovery of vulcanization.

In 1923, Whitby Chandler Ltd. was founded in the United Kingdom. The company was one of the first major gasket suppliers and instrumental in developing sealing technology. In the 1960s the company began manufacturing compression rubber mouldings to accompany the gasket technology. As one of the first registered companies in the field, they led the way in creating a foundation for future companies. They developed new machinery for gasket cutting and products that could replace asbestos.

Richard Klinger developed the first asbestos fiber gasket in 1899. The US Navy used sheet packing and gaskets to insulate and seal parts on steam locomotives and engine boilers. Gaskets cut from sheet packing could be used for engine parts and mechanical operations because they could resist the steam, water, chemicals, and high pressure. Gasket material made from asbestos sheet packing worked best in mechanical systems that involved transporting hot oils, gases, grease, and acid. Products containing these gaskets included pumps, boilers, compressors, cylinder heads, and turbines.

The use of asbestos began to decrease in the 1980s, when it became linked to mesothelioma and other pulmonary diseases. Since the early 2000s, multiple lawsuits have been won by employees who claimed that exposure to asbestos caused them to develop pulmonary diseases. Despite the definite connection between handling asbestos containing products and chronic disease, the product remains approved for use. However, Temel Gaskets does not use asbestos in any products.   

Today, gaskets are made from a wide range of materials, including but not limited to: paper, rubber, silicone, metal, cork, neoprene, nitrile rubber, fiberglass, and plastic polymers. They can be applied to use in passenger, heavy duty, and off- road vehicle engines, in addition to agricultural machine engines. There are hundreds of gasket manufactures worldwide and the value of the automotive gasket and seal market is estimated to reach $12.3 billion by 2020.

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