Why Thinner Gasket Material Usually Works Better

Gasket materials come in many thicknesses. To give one example, at Hennig Gasket neoprene gasket material is available from 3/32” all the way up to 2” thickness. Customers will sometimes ask what thickness they should buy, but a gasket material supplier really can’t help with that. It depends completely on the application. However, it’s generally agreed that a gasket should be as thin as possible, providing it still seals. There are four reasons. A thinner gasket:

1. Has greater blow-out resistance. Being thinner, the gasket present less area to the internal pressure, so is less prone to deformation and failure.

2. Has a lower leak rate. All gaskets will allow some quantity of fluid to pass through. This is just a natural function of their structure and the make-up of the fluid being constrained. (Anyone who’s ever tried piping helium knows how its small molecules let it escape from almost anywhere!) So the less gasket material that’s exposed to the fluid, the less will leak.

3. Retains fastener torque better. This stems from the creep relaxation characteristics of the gasket material. When there’s less thickness there’s less creep, (think of it happening on a percentage basis,) so more torque is retained.

4. Is less expensive. Material cost relates more to volume or weight than area, and thicker gaskets need more material. Secondly, thickness also influences cutting method and thicker materials could be more expensive to cut to shape. Neoprene gasket material 3/32” thick die cuts readily, but a thickness of 2” may call for a waterjet.

Note though that points 1 and 2 really only apply to situations where the gasket resists pressure, such as in pipelines. In no-pressure situations such as a gasket sealing around an electrical enclosure, the benefit is primarily Point 4 – cost.

All About the Gap

How thick a gasket should be depends entirely on the application. Remember that it’s purpose is to take up an uneven gap between two surfaces. The key is having enough thickness that the gasket compresses and fills the voids, but no more.

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