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Saint-Gobain merges technologies to craft gasket for aircraft

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Saint-Gobain's OmniGasket
Saint-Gobain's OmniGasket combines its OmniSeal technology with its Meldin polymiade material for sealing applications in the aerospace industry.

GARDEN GROVE, Calif.—Saint-Gobain Seals has merged two technologies to form OmniGasket, a flanged sealing component used on aircraft wing slats and their de-icing telescopic duct system.

The product combines Saint-Gobain S.A.'s Meldin polyimide material with an OmniSeal spring-energized seal to form a high-performance gasket. The product is machined in combination with a static OmniSeal seal installed inside, then mounted to the interface between the telescopic duct and the wing leading edge.

Chiara Repetto, European product manager, Meldin, said the product was created when Saint-Gobain noticed a customer machining an aluminum plate to the firm's OmniSeals. It offered to formulate a better solution using an improved material.

OmniGasket was released to the market toward the end of 2013, Repetto said.

“The idea was immediately liked by the customer,” she said. “We then started the usual process of prototypes, testing and field tests to get the product approved.”

Repetto said Meldin is lighter than aluminum, provides greater temperature resistance, and thermal conductivity is very low.

Right now, the product is only produced in Europe and only used in the aerospace industry, though the company said it has ongoing projects that could expand its application.

Both the Meldin and OmniSeal products work as separate elements for different applications in the aerospace market. Saint-Gobain said they are ideal for conditions where high temperature or extreme pressure is needed.

Chiara Repetto
Chiara Repetto

Meldin is manufactured at Saint-Gobain's Bristol, R.I., facility. The OmniGasket is machined at its facility in Kontich, Belgium, which also produces OmniSeals. Machining and OmniSeal production also occurs at its facilities in Garden Grove and Shanghai. Saint-Gobain said it operates about 16 sites globally.

“Meldin is really exceptional in our portfolio because it is the only material where we also take care of the production of the raw material itself,” Repetto said.

“We do the polymerization of the material, so we have full control of the production of the material from the polymer to the finished parts.”

Saint-Gobain's OmniSeals are formed from polymers, usually a polytetrafluoroethylene, with a metal spring that gives the seal the energy to keep the sealing.

“This is a good alternative to an elastomer seal where the energy is given by the elastomer itself so you don't need a spring,” Repetto said. “But with elastomer sealing, the range of temperature is much more limited. You have a wider-range you can achieve with a spring energized seal.”

Saint-Gobain Seals is a business unit under Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics' Engineered Components division.