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Advantages and disadvantages of FKM vs EPDM for ‘O’ rings

FKM and EPDM are common ‘O’ ring materials that offer excellent thermal and oxidation resistance. However, there are some significant differences between these two polymer materials, which, depending on your application, can make or break your choice of ‘O’ ring material. Here, TRP Polymer Solutions talks us through the various advantages and disadvantages of FKM and EPDM.

Advantages

FKM: Fluoroelastomers (FKM) are characterised by their strong carbon-fluorine bonds, which give them the advantage of exceptional chemical, thermal and oxidation resistant properties. FKM also offers a wide operational temperature range of -45 °C to +204 °C, has good mechanical properties, and its density gives a high-quality feel.

EPDM: EPDM offers excellent resistance to ozone, sunlight and weathering. Few rubbers can withstand extremely cold temperatures like EPDM. With an operating temperature as low as -50 °C (with highs of +150 °C), EPDM is a solid choice in sub-zero temperatures. EPDM compresses well and is highly resistant to tears, abrasion and steam.

Disadvantages

FKM: FKM is known to swell in fluorinated solvents and cannot be used with molten or gaseous alkali metals. FKM is a premium product, due to its chemical makeup. So it does come with a higher price tag than other non-fluorinated hydrocarbons and low temperature grades can be especially costly.

EPDM: Although EPDM offers good resistance to dilute acids, ketones and alkalis, it does not fare so well fuels, oils and non-polar solvents. It certainly wouldn’t be a suitable choice for petro-chemical applications.

Applications

FKM: FKM is suitable for explosive decompression, CIP, SIP and FDA applications. It is ideal for the handling and transportation of chemicals and fuels, as well as high temperature and explosive environments, such as in the oil and gas, automotive and aerospace industries.

EPDM: EPDM’s all-round durability has seen it employed across a wide range of applications, including ‘O’ rings, automotive cooling systems, and as insulation in freezer room seals.

Verdict

FKM: If your application demands the highest standards of chemical, thermal and oxidation resistance – and budget is not your primary concern – FKM is a premium product that will more than repay your investment.

EPDM: For a low-cost sealing material that performs well in outdoor applications, EPDM is a good choice. This durable synthetic rubber won’t degrade under UV conditions and will tolerate prolonged contact with steam and some acids.

Contact TRP Polymer Solutions

Choosing the wrong ‘O’ ring material can lead to rapid failure, which is why you should always seek expert advice. TRP Polymer’s technical experts have many years of experience developing high-performance sealing materials and can help you to source the right ‘O’ ring material for your application.

For more information, please visit TRP Polymer Solutions.

Company Profile

TRP Polymer Solutions

TRP Polymer Solutions was established in 2004, we design, develop and manufacture custom rubber mouldings and ‘O’ rings for industries worldwide including chemical processing, oil & gas, aerospace, nuclear, pharmaceutical and medical. Supplying North America, Central and South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Southern Asia, Asia Pacific and Australasia.

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