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A Quick Guide to Sealants for Industrial Applications

From ceramics to shipbuilding, masonry to metal fabrication, aerospace to textiles, sealants have numerous uses. Compared to other bonding technologies such as welding, sealants offer several benefits including time and cost saving, durability, and protection of the material substrate.
This article is a quick guide to industrial sealants and offers tips for selecting the right sealant for your particular application.
Sealants Vs. Adhesives
Although some people refer to sealants and adhesives interchangeably, these two boding technologies have distinct characteristics.
Sealants typically come in the form of a viscous liquid that solidifies once applied to the substrate through various curing processes depending on the type of sealant. Sealants work to fill gaps between two or more materials and prevent the penetration of elements such as moisture, air, fire, and debris.
On the other hand, adhesives, which can be in powder or liquid form, join substrates together. Like, sealants, adhesives need to cure in order to bond the substrates effectively.
Although sealants offer a protective barrier, adhesives are much stronger and can withstand a range of environmental conditions better.
While both bonding methods share some similarities in their chemical composition, each requires different additives or stabilizers. Common additives include colorants, filler, catalysts, and plasticizers.
Categories of Sealants 
Industry users categorize sealants based on the specific composition of the sealant. The three main categories include single-component sealants, double-component sealants, and tapes.
Single-Component Sealants
Common single-component sealants include urethane and silicone sealants that are latex, butyl, or acrylic solvent-based. These sealants contain just one element. 
Double-Component Sealants 
These types of sealers come packed as a base sealant with a corresponding activator. Examples include silicone and urethane sealants with an epoxy-solvent base.
Sealant tapes are available in the form of silicone butyl and urethane tapes.
Considerations for Sealant Selection 
Several factors come in to play when determining the appropriate sealant for your specific application. 
Type of Substrate
Different types of sealants are suitable for bonding different materials. For this reason, you need to factor in the type of material you will be working with whether that is metal, plastic, wood, or rubber.
Epoxy sealants are best for metallic-based applications such as those in the automotive and marine industries. Phenolic sealants are best for many applications in the construction industry while polymers are suitable for use in brickwork projects. Consider using acrylic sealants for household applications such as sealing gaps in window and door frames.
Physical and Chemical Properties 
Pay attention to the physical and chemical attributes of a sealant as these can affect the durability of the sealant, overall adherence of the sealant to the substrate, and the integrity of the sealed region. If you are unsure, ask your industrial supplies company about a sealant's physical properties such as elasticity, stress resistance, as well as tear and fatigue resistance.
The chemical attributes of a sealant particularly pertain to the additive and polymer content. Epoxy sealants are a popular choice across different industries due to their ideal physical and chemical properties. Epoxies are especially stable over a wide range of temperatures, dry fast, and are nonconductive.
You should find out how well a type of sealant can withstand exposure to weather elements, chemicals, and fire. For example, silicone is water resistant, non-conductive, and forms a strong seal when cured, helping to fortify a structure's load-bearing capabilities. Silicone sealants generally demonstrate high durability and are a preferred bonding element for domestic and industrial applications.
Bond integrity, design flexibility, and durability are especially important in industrial applications that involve joining two or more material substrates. As such, be sure to purchase your industrial sealants and adhesives from a reputable supplier that can guarantee quality.  
At California Industrial Rubber Company, we stock a wide selection of sealants, coatings, and adhesives. Whatever your application, you can be sure we have the right sealant or adhesive. Get in touch with us today to find out how you can place an order.