Within modern manufacturing, there are companies looking for reliable, dependable parts while also reducing their environmental impact. For a non-metallic material that sustains both the environment and your production processes, cork may be just the material you need! Let’s look at what cork is and all the beneficial properties it offers as a gasket material.

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What is Cork Material?

Cork may seem an unusual gasket material, but it proves to have great purpose as a seal within manufacturing. Derived from the bark of cork oak trees, cork is a natural material made up of cellulose and suberin; because the latter compound is highly hydrophobic, cork has a high water resistance that makes it light-weight and buoyant. Since these trees are hearty and last for many years, cork makes for quite a sustainable resource for non-metallic components.

5 Beneficial Properties of Using Cork

Cork gaskets are 100% recyclable, helping manufacturers cut down on their overhead costs on disposal as well as their carbon footprint. Beyond being sustainable, though, cork offers many other properties that appeal to industrial manufacturers for parts, such as:

  • Elasticity: Cork gaskets can be compressed, stretched, and pulled under high pressure yet still retain their shape. As a result, cork gaskets make for great air-tight seals in engines in a variety of pressure-heavy industries like construction or aerospace
  • Impermeability: Cork gaskets are highly resistant to both liquids and gases. Besides water, this ensures that cork gaskets can be applied as seals transferring chemicals, solvents, and high volumes of engine fluid in automotive, aerospace, construction, and piping industries.
  • Temperature Resistance: Gaskets made from cork are quite fire retardant. While cork can catch on fire at extremely high temperatures, it merely creates non-toxic smoke as it burns, leaving little risk of toxic exposure. This can be quite helpful to industries working in high temperatures or electrical environments.
  • Durability: Cork is an extremely durable type of gasket material. Since natural cork oak trees can last around 200 to 300 years, you can expect cork gaskets to last quite a while without losing other properties over time. Additionally, cork is highly resistant to extreme abrasions or impact, which serves well in heavy-duty construction and material handling machines.
  • Insulative: Along with blocking water and gases, cork is an excellent insulation material against electrical conduction, noise, or vibrations. Aerospace, automotive, or construction industries that utilize machines with intense vibrations can count on cork gaskets to last through such conditions.
Pile of cork rings

Made from sustainable tree bark, cork gaskets make great sealants for a variety of manufacturing industries.

Cork Limitations

Though cork has few limitations, it does have some drawbacks within manufacturing, such as:

  • Environmental Endurance: Since its temperature threshold peaks at around 275°F (135°C), cork tends to break down in extreme heat environments more than other elastic or rubber gaskets.
  • Bacteria: Due to its composition being primarily organic, cork material is prone to decomposition by bacteria, creating fungi or mold within humid or damp working conditions. If your facility manufactures medical or food-based products, then cork material may be unsuitable for production.

Explore Breiner’s Sustainable Materials

Manufacturers deserve quality gasket materials to sustain and support their production processes. If you’re looking for a material that’s both eco-friendly and makes a great seal against different liquids, then cork material may be just what you need! Let our team at Breiner help you create the exact replacement part you need when you need it.

Interested in learning about our other materials? Check out our blog on Nomex® vs. Kevlar®: The Buyer’s Guide to Inferno-Resistant Materials.

Common types of gasket materials. This helpful infographic takes a look at the most common types of gasket materials. Download your infographic here.