Sales of Freudenberg Sealing Technologies’ premium Simriz perfluoroelastomeric (FFKM) compounds have increased by more than 100 percent in North America during the past 24 months. Buoyed in large measure by the compounds’ quality, superior performance capabilities, and near-immediate availability at a time when other supplies of FFKM have been unavailable, major companies in the aerospace, fluid handling, agriculture, and construction industries – as well as many of Freudenberg Sealing Technologies’ Preferred Distributors – now rely on Simriz compounds to fulfill their customers’ FFKM component requirements.
FFKM seals and gaskets are ubiquitous in manufacturing processes where extreme temperatures, pressures and chemicals are used. Freudenberg Sealing Technologies is vertically integrated back to the monomer and produces 11 different grades of Simriz materials, with Simriz 498 providing an ultimate level of performance. The elastomer’s patented cross-linking structure, chemical stability and elasticity offer sealing protection under the most aggressive conditions, including temperatures of up to 617°F (325°C), aggressive chemicals and superheated water and steam.
Because of its exceptional performance, sales of Simriz 498 have always been steady since the material portfolio’s introduction. But they began to quickly escalate near the end of 2022, when manufacturers in many industries found they could no longer source FFKM from their regular suppliers. In addition, supply chain disruptions, a lingering result of the Coronavirus Pandemic, made sourcing FFKM ingredients difficult.
When Freudenberg Sealing Technologies’ account managers were contacted by several customers’ engineers about their FFKM challenges, the stories were similar: There was no FFKM immediately available, it could take as long as nine months to source the material from existing suppliers, and this delay would put production schedules in crisis.
Thanks to Freudenberg Sealing Technologies’ integrated supply chain and existing material validation data, the company was able to offer Simriz FFKM’s as the solution to these companies in as little as two days. Freudenberg was also able to produce and deliver sets of rapid tooling to several customer within 24 hours using advanced prototyping methods.
“It’s not often you can get top-of-the-line solutions that are delivered fast and are also affordable,” said Jeff Kruwell, sales director fluid technologies for Freudenberg Sealing Technologies. “When other FFKM materials were not available, we very quickly stepped up and supplied our complete portfolio of Simriz compounds to meet customers’ needs. In several cases, this not only saved their production schedules, but allowed them to increase their market share.”
Demand for Simriz FFKM is expected to continue growing, Kruwell added, as existing and new customers continue to tap into the benefits the Simriz portfolio offers.
“When an industrial seal fails and unscheduled maintenance is required, every minute of downtime costs money,” he said. “Simriz outperforms every other FFKM on the market and helps eliminate these hugely expensive equipment challenges. Because we are integrated down to the monomer, we have a ready supply of Simriz available and can offer standard replacement seals in a matter of hours.”
Freudenberg Sealing Technologies has brought on a second shift of employees to help it fill growing Simriz orders. The company is also installing a new FFKM production cell in its Santa Ana O-ring facility in the US. Cell production is slated to begin in January 2024.
“The material shortage opened doors for the sale of Simriz FFKM,” Kruwell concluded. “But it’s important to understand that, even though FFKM supplies are returning to pre-pandemic levels, customers are sticking with Freudenberg and Simriz because of its performance and value. This is a win for customers and for Freudenberg Sealing Technologies.”