Look, I know. They’re gaskets… but they’re really cool when you get past that rigid (or sometimes flexible) exterior.
In this super-brief yet informative retrospective, you’ll learn more about how gaskets got their start, why they’re important, and more.
And like any good origin story, this is a tale of intrigue, stolen passports, weaponized industrial fabrication machines, and a guy whose name gets emblazoned on tires across the country. Ok, that’s not true, but now you’re invested and there’s no turning back.
Here’s what we do know…
First, what is a gasket?
They can be massively complex or really simple. They can be huge or tiny. They can serve highly critical functions in some of the most dangerous environments or they can blend into the background; still necessary but unnoticed.
A gasket is a flexible or rigid device that joins other flexible or rigid items together. They absorb shock, reduce stresses, create seals, and more.
Gaskets are especially critical to fluid containment. Pipes and conduits circulate everything from consumable liquids like fruit juices and soft drinks to caustic liquids like acids and cleaners. A variety of gasket types maintain proper seals under pressure, protecting not only the liquids themselves from contamination but also reducing risk and injuries to consumers, facility workers, and transportation professionals.
Gaskets can be made of a wide variety of materials and densities: neoprene, foam, Viton FKM, red rubber, Teflon PTFE, expanded PTFE, or even metal or asbestos. The type of application usually determines the kind of gasket that’s selected, and some applications may use a variety of gasket types to get the job done.
Simply put – if you need to join two things together or keep fluids contained, you need a gasket.
Bonus: Check out this video your teacher left for the sub if you want to dive deeper.
Why are gaskets so important?
There are so many gasket types out there, the wikipedia article on gaskets reads like a Bubba Gump Shrimp menu 🦐.
And rightly so. They’re the kind of component that usually doesn’t get the spotlight, but the sheer quantity and variations of how they’re used should make us sit up and notice. Gaskets are critical to everything from high rise buildings and major industrial applications (think oil tankers and refineries or food and beverage facilities) to micro applications like HVAC units, science experiments, home distilleries, toilets, and spray bottles.
Who invented the gasket?
Strangely enough, the first known use of “gasket” was around 1889.
Search the internet and you’ll find a few different stories. It’s hard to say who the actual inventor is, but we do know that sometime between 1841 and 1844, Charles Goodyear’s vulcanized rubber made modern, pliable gaskets possible.
As early as 312 B.C. the Romans were engineering aqueducts to transport water across vast distances, and part of that amazing feat was the use of pipes.
They even used lead pipes in their homes.
Did they use gaskets and sealing technology? We may never know, but surely they figured out that a fully rigid system was rife with problems.
How did the gasket change over time?
As technology, demand, and materials evolved, the need for improved gaskets became clear.
While Goodyear’s vulcanized rubber is ideal for a variety of uses, the forces, loads, environments, and strains produced in some heavy industrial applications reveal a need for durable metal gaskets and fire resistant or temperature resistant gaskets made from materials like graphite.
But it’s not just large scale manufacturing that evolved. Even materials like cork would come to be relied on where a lighter touch was needed.
What are gaskets used for today?
You name it.
Contamination prevention, vibration reduction, sealing, and mounting are just a few of the ways we use gaskets.
SpaceX resupplying the International Space Station? Wouldn’t happen without seals and gaskets.
Oil supplies reaching holding reservoirs? Gaskets are critical.
Pipes of any kind that need to be connected? Get a gasket.
Extreme environments that require heat and pressure resistant materials? Gaskets take the punishment.
Custom application that requires tooling development? No problem.
Where are gaskets headed? What are the hottest trends in metaverse gasket technology?
For the metaverse to function properly, there really has to be a measured and intentional approach to the way we use gaskets. You can’t just have people building virtual facilities and not considering gasket tech.
How do you even hold the metaverse together? Every company and brand is creating their own experience. Something has to go between those. What happens when the virtual Skittles factory goes online and some noob just decided to wing it with a loose connection of pipes with no gaskets in sight?
Kidding on that one.
In reality, gaskets will likely keep pace with other emerging technologies and materials. Advancements in composites and the need for more space-age solutions should push the gasket industry to flex with the times.
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