Development of special, weight-optimized rubber sealings for the vehicle industry
Transporting people and goods is a part of our everyday lives, so we use different vehicles every day. These vehicles can usually be described as very complex systems consisting of a huge number of parts, which must work well together. Many parts require that certain materials (engine oil, brake fluid etc.) are available at the right place and time and in the right amount. Sealings are widely used in the vehicle industry to prevent the leakage of these materials; most of these sealings are made from different kinds of rubber. Nowadays much rubber sealing research and development is focused on high-performance rubber mixtures able to satisfy special requirements. With these high-performance mixtures the lifetime and reliability of rubber sealings can be improved, which can make transport safer. (Improved performance means the sealings can perform their function for a longer time and/or in more extreme conditions.) The drive for such development is the increasing requirements in the vehicle industry because of continuous technological development. As a result, new materials and mixtures of new compositions are used. An excellent example is the ever increasing thermal load rubber sealings and gaskets have to withstand in addition to the load caused by aggressive materials (fuels, lubricants etc.), because of increasing performances of engines of decreasing size. Therefore, outstanding thermal stability and good resistance to aggressive materials (e.g. excellent resistance to oil and chemicals) even at high temperatures are essential requirements. These requirements can be satisfied with special rubber mixtures but their main component, the various special caoutchoucs are rather expensive, therefore mass reduction and optimization of the sealing is a very important area where costs can be decreased. As a result of structure optimization, the geometric characteristics of the product change, which changes the loads in the material of the product and so higher stresses and higher deformation occur when the cross section is decreased. In the case of rubber sealings and gaskets, this can reduce the functionality of the product if it is not “prepared” to take higher loads, which can be achieved by changing the components of the rubber mixture. If the components of the rubber mixture are properly chosen, or modified, the geometry of the product can be varied in a wider range because the mechanical properties of the rubber can be set to enable the product to provide sufficient sealing even at higher loads. The goal of our project is to develop according to the above aspects the special rubber sealings the participating company manufactures for use in the vehicle industry, and rethink solutions currently used in industry practice in a mixture design-oriented way and with mass reduction in mind. The result will be technologies with which parts fully satisfying requirements but having lower manufacturing costs; As a result, the new technologies and the products manufactured with them will have a competitive advantage and they will likely be successfully used in other industries where sealings have to fulfil extreme requirements.