Does your company keep rubber gaskets in inventory for long periods of time? Buying and storing large quantities of gaskets can help to reduce unit costs, but rubber doesn’t last forever. Shelf life, the storage period prior to gasket installation, varies by material type. Temperature, humidity, ozone, and exposure to ultraviolet light (UV) can also affect the shelf life of rubber products. By understanding these factors and evaluating all of your options for ordering seals, you can make stronger procurement decisions.
Shelf Life and Rubber Types
Some rubber materials have longer shelf lives than others. For example, as the table below shows, silicone gaskets can last up to four times longer than natural rubber gaskets.
|Rubber Material||Recommended Shelf Life|
|Natural Rubber||3 – 5 years|
|SBR||3 – 5 years|
|Neoprene||5 – 10 years|
|EPDM||5 – 10 years|
|Butyl||5 – 10 years|
|Nitrile||5 – 10 years|
Does your organization store seals made of many different types of elastomers? If so, you’ll need to account for shelf life differences. Otherwise, you could keep some rubber gaskets in inventory for too long, or discard other rubber products prematurely.
Shelf Life and Storage Conditions
Some companies have their own shelf life standards for rubber gaskets. Others follow ARP 5316, an Aerospace Recommended Practice (ARP) that was published originally by the Society of Aerospace Engineers (SAE). ARP 5316 defines best practices rather than industry requirements, but it’s still helpful. The following table explains.
|Environmental Variable||Storage Recommendation|
|Temperature||Store at temperatures below 100° F (38° C).|
|Humidity||Store at humidity levels less than 75% unless the rubber gaskets are kept in sealed, moisture-proof bags.|
|Light||Store away from direct sunlight or intense artificial light.|
|Ozone||Store away from ozone-generating equipment such as some air purifiers.|
Shelf Life and Gasket Procurement
Shelf life is important, but it’s not the only thing that gasket buyers need to consider. Mass distributors and high-volume fabricators can compete on price, but that doesn’t mean they can deliver on your needs. What if you need lower volumes of rubber gaskets? Can your distributor or fabricator still deliver cost-effective quantities? Will you pay a premium for these rubber seals instead? To save money, will you accept a minimum order quantity (MOQ) that leaves you testing the outer limits of gasket shelf life?
Storing all of these rubber gaskets could incur other costs, too. In addition to warehouse space, you’ll need to pay for heating, cooling, lighting, and possibly even dehumidification. Warehouse personnel will need to track shelf life, and you’ll carry the costs of inventory on your books. Fortunately, there’s an alternative to buying more than you need. For low-to-medium volume quantities of custom rubber gaskets, Elasto Proxy strengthens your entire supply chain.
Because Elasto Proxy keeps hundreds of rubber profiles in stock, we can withdraw what you need from our inventory, custom-fabricate your gaskets cost-effectively, and then deliver high-quality parts on time. So leave the shelf life monitoring to us, and focus on your sales forecasts instead. We can release your rubber gaskets as your need them, and also account for safety factors and minimum and maximum inventory levels. Why settle for MOQs that are too high when you have better options?
How Can We Help You?
Do you have questions about the shelf life of rubber products? Are you looking for alternatives to ordering and warehousing large volumes of rubber gaskets? Download our extruded rubber products catalog, and learn more about our custom fabrication capabilities. Our solutions providers are also ready to answer your questions about compound selection, seal deign, and logistics. For more information, contact us.