The assembly and valve connections must be highly reliable in demanding circumstances, such as in waterproof compartments or heavy industry. Pressurized seals are designed to work much like a car or bicycle tyre – a certain amount of air is pumped into the hollow seal through a special valve. There are a multitude of applications where this type of seal is the optimal choice, but a great example can be found in the paper industry, where the pulp washers must have high-end seals that can withstand mechanical wear and tear, all while keeping the chemicals from leaking outside the washer.
Custom seals for specific purposes
Since the criteria for pressurized seals are very precise, the end product must also be accurate. Most of our pressurized profiles are made with extreme precision to fit the hatch, door or other opening perfectly. First, the custom profile is manufactured to meet the client’s needs. Then the profile is cut to length, the valve is mounted on the profile, and the ends are joined together, using the method best suited for each material.
The result is an enclosed profile of a circular, oval, rectangular, or technically any shape requested by the client. The profiles are then delivered to the client who can easily install them. After the installation, the profile can be pressurized using the fitted valve, or it can be permanently connected to the pressure system.
Durable joints ensure the seal fits tightly
When the two ends of a profile are joined together, the joint must be 100% secure. Our professionals at V.A.V. Group take into account the specific requirements of each profile, such as pressure, mechanical and chemical wear, and tolerances. The raw material of which the end product is made will define the method of joining the ends together. The most common practice is vulcanizing, in which the same material used for the profile is heated so that the softened silicone acts as a glue. For silicone profiles, the most suitable adhesive is 2-part silicone, which is also heated to form a more durable bond. It is not uncommon to use good old superglue, either! For TPE profiles it is often the most convenient alternative. Whatever the bond, you can always be confident that we will not cut any corners in manufacturing the most reliable seal for your needs. Every batch is tested for durability before shipping the products to our clients.
In some cases, the profile is provided with a tape strip for easier installation. When the profile is being installed on a hatch, door or window, the installer simply removes the tape from the back of the profile and presses it in place.
Requirements and challenges are never an issue
During our nearly two decades of manufacturing high-end seals and profiles, we have seen a lot of different requirements, needs, use cases and challenging tasks. According to Sari Silvennoinen, our Logistics Manager, there has never been a case where we have given up in the face of a challenge. “There have been a few cases where somebody has asked me if this kind of profile or connection can be done. The answer has always been the same: ‘Yes, we can find a way’”, Silvennoinen ensures.
“Of course, there are products that require a bit more work and thought put into it, such as complex or unusual shapes or angles,” says Sari Silvennoinen. She recalls one exciting case of manufacturing custom dampers for a gaming solution where the player stands on a mat that acts like a massive keyboard. “The challenge was that the profile had to be equally flexible in every direction but still act as a damper. We came up with this accordion-type profile that is both flexible and supportive, and because of the shape, it was rather tricky to join into a rectangular profile. But we did it, and it worked well!” Silvennoinen explains.
Safety requirements are a whole different aspect when it comes to custom profiles. In the shipbuilding and railway industry, the seals and profiles used in doors, windows and hatches must be fireproof, so the joint must also be perfect to prevent heat, flames and toxic fumes from entering the compartment. Regardless of the material, every joint is made with utmost care to ensure there are simply no weak links anywhere in the profile.
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3D printing has endless potential
Our value offer is built around four primary goals: to be innovative, fast, flexible and reliable. 3D-printed tools and valves are essential in reaching those goals: We can print the custom tools to the customer’s specifications in-house, so there is no waiting period from a sub-vendor. 3D printing is also convenient for joining the profiles, as the jigs needed to hold each custom profile in place must also be custom-made. V.A.V. Group’s Logistics Manager Sari Silvennoinen, is very satisfied with using 3D-printed equipment: “When we manufacture custom profiles, it is clear that there simply isn’t a jig with the right angle and profile off-the-shelf. By printing the tools ourselves, we reach our value proposition and maintain our reputation as a highly reliable manufacturer,” Silvennoinen states.
The range of 3D-printed items is not limited to V.A.V. Group’s tools and valves for customer needs. The high-end metal printer is capable of manufacturing spare parts, tools and other specific and detailed items for a broader client base. 3D printing a spare part is often faster and cheaper than ordering the part from the other side of the world and having it shipped. If the part is needed for manufacturing purposes, 3D printing can shorten the stoppage period significantly, minimizing the time the machine is out of order.
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