Minnesota Rubber and Plastic released its F-Treat process as an alternative to lubrication and surface coating . F-Treat, an application for elastomers, bonds a low-friction treatment to the surface of a gasket or seal.
The F-Treat process is not a coating. "We describe it as a chemical modification of the surface of the material so it does become part of the elastomer itself," says Tim Reski, director of materials science for Minnesota Rubber and Plastic.
Unlike a coating that could chip away under friction, F-Treat extends beyond the outer surface of the elastomer. According to Reski, F-Treat "penetrates the surface of the material to a very small amount, so if there is any kind of minimal wear on the surface of the material, you're actually wearing into new material that is likewise treated. So it's not like a coating that would come off, dissipate and fall away; it actually becomes part of the elastomer."
The F-Treat process is generally applied to FKM elastomers, which are typically used in high-temperature and chemically aggressive environments that are "not suited for many of the typical lubricants that we would use, such as any kind of coatings or anything like that, where either the coating will wear off or burn off or be otherwise destroyed," says Reski.
Under normal conditions, there is little chance for an F-Treated surface to chip or peel like a coating, and since it is not a lubricant there is no worry of it washing away. This makes it an option for applications where cleanliness is integral to production. "With the F-Treat, since it is a chemical modification of the surface, there are no particles floating around, there are no oils involved or anything of this nature," says Reski.
F-Treat is a proprietary process to Minnesota Rubber and Plastic , so they are unwilling to go into depth regarding the modification process itself. According to the company, no similar process exists.
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