Being in the nonmetallic manufacturing industry requires us to become familiar with a long list of materials, each with their own qualities, strengths, and weaknesses. One of these materials is fluorocarbon rubber (FKM); commonly referred to by its DuPont-christened name Viton. What is Viton and what qualities does it boast? Let’s take a look:
As mentioned, Viton is DuPont’s (now Chemours) brand name for fluorocarbon rubber. This is a synthetic rubber and fluoropolymer elastomer and is commonly used for O-rings and other molded or extruded parts.
So, what is Viton good for? Viton’s properties make it an ideal choice for an environment where certain challenges and factors are present. These include:
- High temperatures: Viton O-rings withstand temperatures from -20°C to 210°C (-4°F to 410°F).
- Chemicals: Viton can withstand a wide range of chemicals: these include oils, acids, silicone fluids, and gases, as well as halogenated and aromatic hydrocarbons.
- Environmental challenges: Viton can maintain a seal even when oxidation, UV exposure, weather, ozone, fungus, and mold would’ve ruined other seals.
Taken together, these qualities make Viton a common choice for appliance processing, automotive, and chemical industries.
Currently, Chemours offers more than 25 different FKM polymers, with differing fluorine content, viscosity, and curing methods. Generally speaking, a higher fluorine content brings higher chemical resistance; polymers with lower viscosity are great for extrusions and to help mold complex parts; and a variety of curing mechanisms highlight specific properties.
Viton is a black rubber material ideal for O-Rings in high-temperature situations.
What about the disadvantages of Viton? Well, the first point to recognize would be its low-temperature performance—or lack thereof. See, while FKM’s performance in high-temperature situations is exceptional, it loses this high level of performance in colder situations. Other low-temperature polymers can work in -40°C (-40°F) conditions while 3M has another specialty polymer which, depending on its application, can withstand -60°C (-76°F).
Another note about Viton is that it tends to be a much more expensive material than other nitrile components. The reason for this comes down to the properties of Viton (especially the temperature range as well as its chemical and environmental resistances) which means it will last longer than nitrile in tougher conditions. However, there will be jobs in which those properties are unnecessary—in these cases, is the extra expense really worth it?
Therefore, like any other manufacturing materials, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, which is why it’s crucial to thoroughly consider the part’s applications and working conditions and research many available materials before arriving at the final decision for what the part will be made of. However, as noted in the introduction of this blog, there are so many materials available, and that list can be overwhelming. Even if you’ve decided to go with a Viton part, well, now you have to choose between Chemours’ 25 different variants on the basic Viton. All this together makes the value of having a team of specialists in nonmetal manufacturing will save you the time and money you would doubtlessly find yourself investing in the research and development phases of part manufacturing. So, if you need help navigating the tumultuous seas of nonmetal seals and gaskets, the Breiner team is ready.