No one likes waiting for a gasket, especially when it’s for an urgent repair. No one wants to keep spare gaskets in inventory either. That’s why more gaskets are being water-jet cut. As tooling-free processes, they offer a faster turnaround than die cutting. Here’s more detail.
Steel Rule Die Lead Time and Storage
Each die is made to cut a unique non-metallic gasket. The sharpened blade is pressed into a slot cut in a backing board. Then ejection rubber is fitted around the blade to push out the cut gasket shape.
These take days or weeks to make so gasket manufacturers keep previously used tools in storage. At Hennig, we have thousands taking up space. If a customer wants a die cut gasket we check whether we have the tool needed. If we don’t, water-jet cutting is faster.
Tool Maintenance and Repair
Steel rule edges wear. That affects quality and accuracy, so they need sharpening and/or changing. Likewise, ejection rubber needs regular replacement.
In addition to faster order turnaround, these processes offer:
- Better edge quality – no compression means straight and square edges.
- Higher accuracy – water-jet machines can maintain tolerances as tight as +/- 0.0005” while die cutting struggles to beat +/- 0.010”. That’s because the machines are more precise and there’s no deflection or compression of the gasket material.
- No tooling charges.
Die Cutting for Higher Volumes
Water-jet machines cut quickly, but not as fast as a tool in a press. (And rotary die cutting is even faster.)
Against that, the die cutting press takes time to set up. The breakeven point depends on gasket size, but water-jet and laser usually win for small quantity orders. Die cutting gets cheaper per piece for large quantities but don’t overlook tooling charges.
With water-jet machines, gaskets can be cut to order. That enables a rapid turnaround that avoids holding spare gaskets in inventory. No wonder die cut gaskets are going away.