In 2021, a North American manufacturer struggled to source jamb seals for a premium line of dampers. The design called for silicone, but lead times for seals had been extending. Orders had to be delayed. The manufacturer was feeling strain on its inventory and so were its customers.
Silicone can withstand extremely hot temperatures and provides excellent chemical resistance. Despite its higher price, it remains a popular choice for specialty sealing applications, in part because it can be difficult to find a proper substitute.
The initial design review process we have with customers is about understanding the application and its requirements. Working with the manufacturer and a third party lab, we verified that the temperature, chemical resistance, and other requirements for this application could be met with TPV (thermoplastic vulcanizate).
The manufacturer was quick to transition the seals from silicone to TPV, a material we source efficiently enough to offer a 4-week lead time. With TPV, (commonly known as Santoprene), also came better tear strength and a lot of cost savings.
Every project brings more challenges to consider than any one manufacturer can deal with on their own. It is frustrating to deal with an inflexible supplier that makes little effort to consider your specific needs and requirements.
Central to our process is a thorough design review in the early stages of communication. It allows us to begin to work towards solutions sooner rather than later.