Gaskets, the unsung heroes of mechanical systems, have a rich history dating back to ancient times.

However, the modern era of gasket development can be traced to the 19th century, marked by significant milestones that revolutionised their composition and applications.

In this blog, we'll explore the fascinating history of gaskets, from the early iron sulphate seals to the advanced materials used in the diverse industries of today.


The Birth of Modern Gaskets

In the world of nuts and bolts, where hands get dirty and machines keep humming, the 1840s marked a turning point for gaskets, thanks to Charles Goodyear.

Before Goodyear stepped into the scene, gaskets were like the weak link in the chain, lacking the muscle for the heavy lifting that industry demanded.

Then, cue Goodyear's game-changer, vulcanized rubber. This type of rubber is extremely flexible and durable, making it perfect for any piece of machinery that needs it.

How did he do it? With a combination of rubber, sulphur, and a bit of heat.

This rubber upgrade meant your gaskets got a serious promotion. They became the unsung heroes that could take a beating and still keep things sealed tight.

Thanks to Charles Goodyear, machinery could now flex, bend, and endure the daily grind without missing a beat. It's not just about sealing – it's about giving you a robust, no-nonsense tool that can stand up to the demands of your everyday uses.


Milestones in Gasket History

As we delve into history of gaskets, several key moments emerge, shaping the evolution of gaskets as indispensable components in machinery across various sectors.

Since the early 1800s, seals have played a crucial role in bridging the gap between mating surfaces. Dating back to 1820, these seals were crafted using a blend of iron filings, water, and sulphur powder.

Before Charles Goodwin invented the modern seal, gaskets were fashioned from Oakum, which consisted of rope fibres obtained by untwisting old ropes. The process involved pulling apart the rope, tarring, hammering, and caulking.

Primarily designed for use in boat hull seams and the edges of steam pistons, these seals were secured in place by weights, resembling the concept of modern graphite valve packing.

During the same period, leather gaskets were also utilised in water pumps. However, leather proved inadequate in high-temperature environments, often tearing when exposed to steam.

By 1899, Richard Klinger developed the first asbestos fibre gasket, revolutionising gasket applications in locomotives, engine boilers, and various mechanical operations.

In 1923, Whitby Chandler Ltd, the first major gasket supplier, was established in the UK. This company played a pivotal role in developing compression rubber mouldings alongside gaskets, introducing high-tech machinery for gasket cutting and replacement products made from asbestos.

As the 20th century dawned, asbestos became the preferred material for gasket manufacturing, resisting steam, chemicals, water, and high pressure.

These asbestos-based gaskets found applications in transporting hot oils, gases, acids, and grease in mechanical systems, pumps, compressors, turbines, cylinder heads, and more.

However, by the 1980s, the use of asbestos began to decline due to health concerns. Its prohibition in the UK and Europe underscores the severe risks associated with the material.

Today, gasket manufacturers have embraced alternative materials such as rubber, metal, paper, silicone, neoprene, cork, fiberglass, plastic, polymers, and nitrile rubber.

These versatile materials cater to a wide array of applications across diverse industrial sectors, showcasing the evolution and adaptability of gasket technology.


The Present and Future of Gaskets

Today, gaskets play a critical role in various industries, including automotive, aerospace, marine, oil and gas, chemical, power generation, and food processing.

These components are crafted from diverse materials such as rubber, metal, cork, felt, fiberglass, plastic, and advanced composite materials.

As technology continues to advance, the journey of gaskets is far from over, promising further innovations and applications in the ever-evolving landscape of mechanical engineering.

At TYM, we specialise in providing top-quality custom gasket manufacturing services for a wide range of industries and applications. With our advanced machinery, skilled team, and commitment to excellence, we offer reliable and efficient solutions tailored to meet your specific needs.

Contact us today to find out more, or check out our gasket material products, here.