Seals are required along the length of a seam. Potting and encapsulating encases the entire part or chamber to protect the components inside. Both prevent fluid ingress or egress and are found throughout industry, but are especially common in applications exposed to the elements or with high-value internal components, including transportation, metalworking, electronics and construction.
Tape or sealant is applied over a seam to prevent fluid ingress or fluid egress. Examples include roof seams on vehicles, seams on metal enclosures and pipe sealing.
Adhesive flows over and around a component or fills in a chamber to protect components therein. Examples include heavy duty electrical cords and connectors, electronics in plastic cases, circuit boards and concrete repair.
A seal must be highly elongating and flexible, durable, and fast setting. By definition, mechanical fasteners almost always require a secondary seal because penetrations in a surface allow fluid and vapor to freely flow into an assembly.
If the assembly requires two overlaps or butt joints to be sealed, the sealant is often exposed to peel forces. Foot traffic over doorway thresholds or wind on a railcar roof continually attempt to peel a sealant, whether tape or adhesive, off the part. If the application is potted or encapsulated, the adhesive (tapes are not a good fit here) often sees compression and tension as the part experiences thermal expansion or contraction. Many potted parts, on circuit boards for example, can see all three stresses – peel, compression and tension.
Protect your design with 3M products
After all the time you put into making the perfect product, make sure it’s protected against vibration, moisture and other contaminants with reliable 3M products. 3M tapes, sealants and adhesives permanently seal gaps and seams without sagging, pot or encapsulate sensitive components and cure quickly for painting.
The 3M technologies shown below are commonly used in sealing or potting and encapsulating applications. Use these lists as a relative comparison of product performance.
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