Working with nonmetallic materials has taught us a thing or two about what end users can expect from the custom parts we make for them. For more than 70 years, the team at Breiner has worked with thousands of these materials, and one we particularly work with is cellulose. If you’re considering employing this material for your next gasket, seal, or custom project, you need to know the properties of cellulose, which is exactly what we’re going to investigate in this article. 

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What is Cellulose? 

The organic compound known as cellulose is made of a combination of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. In nature, cellulose is found in many plants’ cell walls, as well as algae. In fact, cellulose is the most abundant organic polymer on Earth—it is the core “ingredient” in both cotton and wood. Its main use, though, is to make paperboard and paper. 

Cellulose’s usefulness in nature led to the development of artificial cellulose fibers. To create these fibers, natural cellulose is processed into a pulp and extruded similar to the method behind polyester or nylon. The machine used to create this pulp is a 17th century Dutch contraption known as a Hollander beater; hence why synthetic cellulose is sometimes referred to as “beater cellulose.” 

Properties of Cellulose

Though the word “cellulose” often refers to both the artificial and natural variants, this one word refers to two completely different materials because they offer totally different properties.  

For example, because beater cellulose can be combined with other materials such as nitrile butadiene, its properties are customizable to a variety of industrial needs. Explaining every variant and its specific properties would require more space than is available here, but know synthetic cellulose is: 

  • Versatile: found in hydraulics, pumps, valves, automotive, flanges, and oil sealing applications. 
  • Heat resistant: For a furnace, cellulose can be designed to withstand temperatures up to 1400°F. 
  • Cool under tension: Cellulose can be crafted to bear a high tensile strength. 

Natural cellulose is more fixed in the properties it offers. While it has good strength and is compressible, the upper limit of temperature exposure for natural cellulose is 250°F. The fibers are treated to seal against oil, water, alcohol, and grease, which can be handled perfectly by natural properties of cellulose. Natural cellulose is right at home at an oil refinery, distilleries, and shipyards. 

Turn to Breiner for Your Custom Part Needs

When you need a custom-cut gasket, seal, or unique part for your manufacturing operation, Breiner Innovative has the materials, equipment, and expertise you need. Whether you need one part or a thousand, Breiner is committed to delivering your custom parts on time, every time. If you don’t know which material is right for you, we’ll help you identify the best solution and be there for you every step of the way. Want to see how we do it? Check out this story on how Breiner helped one of the largest automotive manufacturers in the world and get in touch with our team. 

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