Exchanging Gold for Silver
Throughout the industrial manufacturing world, there is an increasing trend toward the use of high performance materials. Designers are moving away from using brass and standard elastomeric seals and are instead implementing stainless steels, nickel alloys and higher grade elastomers within their designs. This is particularly evident within the fluid handling industry, where components designed for compressed air are now also used for the movement of specialty gases and corrosive fluids.
Several industries utilize specialty gases and fluids such as hydrogen, helium, anesthesia gases, propane, ink, methane, alcohol, acids and lubricants within their product or manufacturing process. These industries rely on the characteristics that high performance materials offer in order to make their products work effectively. High performance materials provide several advantages such as corrosion resistance, strength, reliability, weight reduction, and durability. Many of these characteristics are critical to manufacturing within the pharmaceutical, semiconductor, medical, inkjet printing, fuel cell, toxic gas detection and chemical processing industries.
Imagine if the security scanner that detects toxic gas residue at the airport malfunctioned due to the breakdown and failure of an inferior material within the system. Consider if the analyzing machine at the oil refinery that supplies quality fuel for your car suddenly stopped working. These are just a few examples where the use of high grade materials is essential to maintain the operation of the product and the safety of the public. Industrial manufacturers can save time and money by utilizing these materials and limiting failures and lengthy repair times.
The demand from designers for higher quality components is driving both manufacturers and suppliers to master machining and assembly procedures to provide these high performance materials. It has also required that they provide gasket and o-ring seals comprised of materials like Dupont’s Kalrez®, Teflon® and Viton® and Greene Tweed’s Chemraz®. There has been a growing demand put on manufacturers and suppliers of the fluid handling industry to offer standard products in these alternative materials. However, many of these materials require different machining, finishing and assembly processes. This has forced manufacturers and suppliers to investigate new machining processes and assembly techniques to produce their products in these high performance materials.
A handful of well known manufacturers who supply the fluid handling industry have already started implementing these alternative materials into standard products. Many companies are now offering high pressure regulators for the pharmaceutical/biotech industry in either Hastelloy-C® or Monel®, both of which are nickel alloys. These regulators are available with optional seal materials to maintain high purity within a system. Other fluid handling industrial manufacturers have made the switch to machining Teflon®, Kynar® and even PEEK® to combat harsh environments. Beswick Engineering, a miniature fluid handling manufacturer and supplier, has worked with several high performance materials. Beswick now offers several standard products in 316 stainless steel, titanium, magnesium and other materials.
As fluid handling manufacturing companies improve their machining and assembly processes when working with these materials, the marketplace will offer more products made of higher grade components. The products containing these components will last longer, have a greater reliability and survive the harshest environments. Very soon, alternative materials will become commonplace and those who do not adjust to these changes, will be left behind.
Beswick Engineering Co., Inc.