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Freudenberg-NOK introduces polyurethane for sealing uses

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Mathias Burkert, a Freudenberg Sealing Technologies product manager.

PLYMOUTH, Mich.—Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies Inc. has introduced a new generation of polyurethane that the company claims will set new standards for the sealing industry.

The polyurethane was developed for a wide range of uses. The material is more resistant to water and withstands major temperature fluctuations better than existing polyurethanes.

Jurgen Hieber, a developer at Freudenberg's Schwalmstadt, Germany, plant, said the polyurethane is the best material for seals that ever has reached the market.

"The new material is superior to other polyurethanes in all relevant areas," Hieber said. "It offers superb performance in heat and cold."

The polyurethane can be used in temperatures as low as -40°C and as high as 120°C. The firm said seals made from the material stay flexible at low temperatures and sufficiently stable at high temperatures.

The company made the range possible by a specific modification of the polyurethane components responsible for its temperature characteristics.

"This material runs in tropical regions, but at the same time you can use it in cold areas like in Alaska or Siberia where you have temperatures below zero," said Mathias Burkert, a Freudenberg Sealing Technologies product manager in Schwalmstadt. "This was the intent of our customers to have a universal application possibility. In the past, they did have to change the seals depending on where the equipment is located, and that added some cost for our customers."

Burkert said this generation of its polyurethane has been in development for about four years.

The company felt at that time it was necessary to develop a new generation from its material—which Burkert said has been on the market for nearly 40 years—to respond to changing markets.

The firm did an analysis of what customers need, what is different compared to the past and how it has to modify the material to aid the new generation. The firm found that power density and temperature were two of the biggest demands.

Since Freudenberg develops its own materials, it was in position to take on those challenges.

"A seal usually has some kind of a defined design and can only be influenced by the material itself," Burkert said. "Changing the design would not bring the anticipated benefits. The only thing to make the customers happy is to have a better material. That is the driving force."

The polyurethane will be produced at Freudenberg's Schwalmstadt, Germany, plant. Burkert said the firm invested in new equipment to produce this material. Freudenberg will be able to run this in its current manufacturing process and in the same molds as the current material. The company will open a new manufacturing line for the polyurethane, which Burkert said should be running by April 2014.

"That avoids any investment in terms of tools to keep the cost down for the customer," Burkert said. "This is fully compatible to what we have today."

Freudenberg unveiled the product at Trend Forum, an event the company used to showcase more than 40 products that was held Nov. 13-14 at the Rosengarten Congress Center in Mannheim, Germany.

The firm is training its sales force to begin promoting the polyurethane. Burkert said as soon as its sales force is fully trained and informed, the material will be ready for the market.