METAL INSERT UHMW PUTS RAIL COMPANY ON THE RIGHT TRACK
While others in the rail industry rely on metal, Salco Products is in the business of bringing innovation. They look for materials that offer a higher level of performance than metal, carbon or stainless steel.
“The rail industry is one of our nation’s oldest and most regulated industries, and because of that you’ll see a lot of old designs that are still being used today,” said Keith Barta, new products manager for Salco Products.
You’ll see a lot of metal used In the rail industry,” Barta said. “Salco Products is trying to break that mold. We’re trying to inject other materials into the rail industry that offer a higher level of performance than metal can offer, that carbon can offer, or stainless steel. So we do a lot of plastics and thermal composites. Those are the type of products that we try to push into the rail industry for better chemical resistance, for reduction in weight that can make it easier for the operator to deal with.”
Salco needed to create a new type of blind flange, essentially a cap for the end of a pipe, for use on tank cars. The part would be required to withstand the elements, high pressures, any corrosive chemicals, and rough handling. “The people that do that work are using pipe wrenches that have cheater bars on them that are as big as them to tighten bolts down sometimes,” Barta said. “So, yeah, to say that the fittings that go on a rail car are cared tor would be a false statement. They are heavily abused items.”
Salco Products and Global Polymer worked together to create a heavy-duty, but lightweight blind flange using UHMW. By using metal reinforcement, the plastic was able to maintain its shape and resist a high level of corrosion.
“Without the metal reinforcement, the plastic would not tolerate the temperatures and the pressures that the part would be subjected to.” Barta said. “The metal is the key in allowing the plastic to maintain its shape without deforming and the plastic is offering a very high level of corrosion resistance and a reduction in weight compared to a full metal part.”
Better chemical resistance and reduction in weight resulted in an improved part that makes it easier for the operator. “So when we were growing our product line, we saw Global Polymer as a very unique company in our country. There are not a lot of compression molders that can do metal inserts, which makes Global Polymer very unique. That is something that Salco Products values highly because we view ourselves in the same fashion. They have a very unique process, not a lot of people do it and they’re proud of it. It’s very difficult to do. And that is a lot of what Salce Products does for our customers. We make very complex parts for the rail industry that bring a significant amount of technology compared to the part that it is designed to replace. So Global Polymer was an obvious choice when we wanted to manufacture parts.”