Polymeric items like plastic, fibre, nylon and latex have the tendency to lose their shape and become ruined as a result of the conditions in their surrounding area. These polymers are susceptible to a great number of factors including light, heat, humidity and the level of oxygen. Variations in these factors can result in cracking, hardening, softening and even crazing along with other sorts of degradation. Seals that are made from such materials are also prone to undergo these negative changes after which they might be left completely useless. Therefore, we have compiled a list of all the factors that are in play as far as the storage of seals is concerned.
Heat is detrimental to all polymers. It results in their melting and expansion which can de-shape the material, rendering it useless. Therefore, it is very important to pay attention to the temperatures surrounding the storage of seals. Keep in mind that the temperature of the storage room or compartment should not exceed 50° C. If it does, you can easily expect your polymers to either melt, crack or simply expand beyond the limit that is reversible. It should also be noted, however, that cold temperatures are harmful as well. Before using any seal that has been stored in a cool place, always make sure you heat it a little up to 30°C to allow for its natural properties to play their part.
Humidity refers to the level of moisture in the air. It is something that also contributes to the feel of higher temperatures. That is, if there is high humidity in the atmosphere, even moderate temperatures might feel like beyond 50°C. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to the humidity in the atmosphere and to make sure that it does not exceed 65%, that too in an atmosphere that is draft-free.
As surprising as this may sound, light also has the potential to harm polymeric materials. Along with direct sunlight, artificial lights that have high ultraviolet are dangerous for materials like plastic, rubber, nylon etc. Therefore, it is always advised to store seals in opaque containers away from direct light. On the other hand, if opaque containers are not being used, all windows and other sources of light should be covered with coloured paper or paint to reduce their effect.
Oxygen and other gases
Some materials like rubber are extremely reactive to the ozone gas. These materials can quickly change shape or take damage when in contact with such gases. Therefore, it is important to make sure there are no machines or other sources of ozone in the storage room with the seals. Airtight containers are the best storage option in such cases.
Contact with other materials
Pay special attention to the material that your seals are made of and how they react with other materials. Oils and greases should be kept away from the storage area as well as metals like iron and copper. These can have a strong harmful effect on rubber seals especially.