Sur-Seal® Company Launches SUR-COOL® Products

Sur-Seal, a leader in the field of engineered sealing solutions, has launched a proprietary line of thermal interface materials.

CINCINNATI, OHIO – (August 31, 2021) – The Sur-Seal® Company, a custom sealing solutions industry leader, has launched a unique new product line. The Sur-Cool® line is a comprehensive lineup of silicone thermal interface materials that combines quality, ease of use, and affordability to bring engineers solutions that are finally made easy. This proprietary product line spans four different unique types of products.  

The lineup includes: 

  • Sur-Cool Thermal Tape 120V 
  • Sur-Cool Silicone Thermal Gap Pads: 150V, 300V, 500V, 800V, and Ultra Soft 
  • Sur-Cool SFR: 100V, 150V, 200V, and 300V 
  • Sur-Cool Phase Change 300V 

“We are pleased to be able to offer state-of-the-art thermal interface materials that are made to meet real-world expectations,” explains Larry Faist, president, and chief executive officer of Sur-Seal. “Sur-Seal is committed to our customer satisfaction and bringing quality thermal material options to our customers is a priority.” 

Sur-Seal’s Sur-Cool line of proprietary thermal interface materials takes the guesswork out of choosing the right materials. Featuring easy-to-use products with reliable quality at the right price, the Sur-Cool line allows design engineers to make informed decisions about the products they are using. Sur-Seal strives to be a continued leader in thermal interface materials by bringing quality products like the Sur-Cool line to their customers.  For more information on Sur-Cool, visit https://www.sur-seal.com/products/sur-cool/ 

How do thermal pads work?

There are a lot of different types of thermal interface materials on the market. However, of all the forms available, thermal pads (aka thermal gap pads) are the best choice for mass production. Let’s break down why that is.

What do thermal pads do?

Thermal pads serve the same purpose as every other form of thermal interface material. That is, they sit between two components and transfer heat from one to the other. This usually means dissipating heat from a heat source to a heat sink, to protect a device from overheating.

Thermal pads accomplish this by being effective gap fillers and efficient conductors. The ability of the pad to fill tiny gaps in the assembly is referred to as wet-out, and softer materials tend to wet-out better than firmer materials. A thermal interface material’s inherent conductivity is measured in Watts per meter-Kelvin (W/mK), and the higher the W/mK number, the better that material is at transferring heat.

Silicone thermal pads

Silicone is a highly versatile and effective material for thermal pads. Silicone can be manufactured to a wide range of thicknesses and compression levels to suit an impressive range of design requirements. Additionally, silicone thermal pads provide beneficial electrical isolation properties.

Graphite thermal pads

Graphite is an excellent choice for designs that require a thin, highly conductive thermal interface material. Designed for demanding performance applications, its thinner structure requires relatively smooth and parallel surfaces in order to achieve wet-out and maximum thermal performance.

Other types of thermal pads

Silicone and graphite are two of the most common form-factors used for thermal pads. However, they’re far from the only choices out there. These alternative choices include:

  • Acrylic
  • Polyester
  • Aluminum
  • Fiberglass

These materials each offer unique benefits and drawbacks. They are often chosen for designs that have particularly niche requirements.

Thermal pads vs. thermal paste/grease

Finally, there’s a long-standing debate about which is better — thermal pads or thermal paste? The truth of the matter is, they both get the job done. Selecting one versus the other comes down to design and manufacturing requirements.

Thermal paste can wet-out extremely well, providing an exceptionally thin bond-line and thus great performance at a very low unit cost. However, it also tends to be messy and difficult to control. Precision equipment is required for consistent application, as application by hand makes precision nearly impossible.

This can be an expensive piece of capital equipment, which also requires ongoing maintenance. Additionally, thermal grease can be subject to long-term performance degradation due to factors such as pump-out, thermal cracking and capillary attraction.

Thermal pads, on the other hand, provide an easy-to-use and scalable option for manufacturing. Pads can be fabricated to precise specifications, allowing for fast and easy placement. While a pad is not as compressible as a paste, the range of available materials means thermal pads are extremely effective with any substrate. Additionally, thermal pads maintain their initial performance over the long-term since they are not subject to the same types of degradation as thermal grease.

Sur-Cool thermal pads

Sur-Seal’s Sur-Cool line of silicone thermal pads are designed for maximum affordability and effectiveness. We understand that time is valuable for the engineers we work with. That’s why we guarantee a fast and clear process, starting with selection and design and continuing all the way through fabrication and delivery.

To learn more about how Sur-Seal can help solve your thermal management challenges, get in touch at sur-seal.com/contact/.

What is a thermal interface material?

Also known as heat transfer material and sometimes shortened to TIM, a thermal interface material is any substance placed between two components to improve the transfer of heat from one to the other. Usually, the goal is to dissipate the heat by transferring it to a heat sink, which prevents electronics from rising to dangerous temperatures.

What are thermal interface materials made of?

There are a lot of different materials on the market. There are pastes made of various liquid polymers, pads made of wax, aluminum, graphite or silicone, tapes, solders, gels and more. Of all these options, the most common forms are pads and pastes, while the most common base material is silicone.

What to look for in a thermal interface material

To choose the right thermal interface material, you need to know both its inherent thermal conductivity and how it wets out.

Inherent thermal conductivity

Inherent thermal conductivity is defined as Watts per meter-Kelvin (W/mK). It’s a measurement of how much heat a given material can disperse over time. The higher the number, the more heat that material can handle.

Wet-out

Wet-out refers to the ability of a material to replace air gaps in an assembly. It can also be thought of as how soft or squishy the material is. That softness determines how well the material can spread to fill in any spaces that would otherwise be occupied by air (which is a poor thermal conductor).

Other considerations

Besides those two key parameters, there are a few other criteria you can look at when choosing a thermal interface material.

  • Messiness – while thermal paste has excellent wet-out, it can also be difficult to control its application during production. Pads are fabricated for easy placement.
  • Cost – generally speaking, the higher the thermal conductivity of a material, the higher the cost of the material. This is partially dependent upon what types of thermally conductive fillers are used in the material, as some are more expensive than others.
  • Compression – to get a material to optimal wet-out, it needs to be placed under a certain amount of pressure. Softer materials require less pressure to be effective.

How are thermal interface materials used?

Any item or product that’s using electricity is either already using or could be using a thermal interface material. A list of every possible application would rival an old encyclopedia set in word count, but here are just a few examples to get the imagination going:

  • LED arrays
  • Cell phones
  • Hard drives
  • Medical devices
  • Touch screens
  • Digital cameras
  • Vehicle consoles
  • Robotics
  • Home appliances
  • Video game consoles
  • Power tools

What do I do if I need a thermal interface material?

Engineers in need of a thermal interface material should get in touch with a fabricator specializing in thermal management. At Sur-Seal, our experts can help with selecting the right material for any project, regardless of if it’s still in the concept stage or on the verge of mass production. Sur-Seal focuses on making the selection and fabrication process fast, painless and affordable. That’s why we created our Sur-Cool line of silicone thermal pads. We’ve made it simple to find the right solution that’s both high quality and cost effective. Sound too good to be true? We can prove it — just reach out and request a quote.

What is Thermal Tape?

Sur-Cool Thermal Tape is a dual-purpose thermal interface material (TIM), acting as both a TIM and as a mechanical fastener. Sur-Cool’s double-sided thermal tape is made from coating both sides of a fiberglass carrier with a high-performance thermally conductive acrylic adhesive. The result is a cost-effective thermal interface material that provides exceptional bonding strength in a thin format.

What is Thermal Tape Used For?

Thermally conductive tape has many applications where it is used today. Some of the most common applications are as led thermal pads, where the thermal tape is used to mount linear LED strip lights to the troffer heat sinks. In this application, the tape is acting both as a mechanical fastener as well as thermal interface material between the heat source (the LED’s) and the heat sink (the metal troffer).

Is Thermal Tape Electrically Conductive?

Sur-Cool Thermal Tape is not an electrical conductor. Thanks to the fiberglass carrier in the center, the material acts as an electrical insulator.

Thermal Paste Vs Thermal Tape

The pros of Thermal Paste are its low unit cost and strong initial thermal performance. The drawbacks for thermal paste are its messiness and long-term performance degradation.

Thermal tape on the other hand is much easier to handle and work with but is slightly more expensive than thermal paste and will likely not reach the initial performance level of thermal paste. However, it is worth mentioning that thermal tape will maintain its performance in the long-term, Sur-Cool thermal tape’s price is very competitive in comparison to other thermal pads.

To learn more about how Sur-Seal can help solve your thermal management challenges, get in touch at sur-seal.com/contact/.

Sur-Seal® Company Acquires Spectex™, Expanding Custom Engineering, Converting, and Manufacturing Capabilities

Sur-Seal, a leader in the field of engineered sealing solutions, has acquired Spectex 

CINCINNATI, OHIO – (August 2, 2021) – Sur-Seal® Company, a leader in the custom sealing solutions industry has acquired Spectex™, a New Hampshire-based company specializing in custom engineering, converting, and manufacturing of flexible materials. The acquisition will help Sur-Seal and Spectex meet the needs of their expanded customer base.  

“We are excited about the acquisition of Spectex, knowing how well they meet their customers’ needs for custom engineering and manufacturing,” explains Larry Faist, president and chief executive officer of Sur-Seal. “We value their experience and leading capabilities with a wide range of performance materials, from carbonized felt to specialty textiles to elastomers and plastics. We look forward to presenting these capabilities to Sur-Seal’s customers.” 

The acquisition creates a stronger combined business that will benefit customers through the expansion of manufacturing and distribution locations, enhanced engineering and material development capabilities, and an ability to serve more industries. The combined organization will continue to provide high-quality products, including gaskets, thermal pads and silicone optics, using the most effective manufacturing techniques available, including custom extrusion, molding, die-cutting, injection molding, and more. 

“We are pleased to be acquired by Sur-Seal, a company that shares a common mission and values,” says Steve Rossi, general manager at Spectex. “Our joint resources will improve our materials engineering expertise and market reach to better serve our customers and support growth overall.” 

About Sur-Seal  

Sur-Seal® Company, headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio with service centers in Ohio, Mexico, and China, strives to live a mission of being Rapid, Right and Reliable. The company does business in 25 countries, with over 200 OEM customers, including 15 long-term Fortune 500 partners.  Sur-Seal® was founded as a family owned and run business in 1965 and is currently owned by Heartwood Partners, a Connecticut based private equity firm. Sur-Seal is a company with a passion for fostering a strong culture and is proud to have been recognized as a Best Place to Work locally and nationally.  Spectex™, a Sur-Seal Company, is a New Hampshire-based provider of custom engineering, converting and manufacturing of flexible materials. Spectex was founded by Victor Pisinski and Kevin Stanley in 2001 and has a history of providing solutions for such industries as medical, aerospace, industrial, and others.  For more information about Sur-Seal or Spectex, visit the sites at: https://www.sur-seal.com or https://www.spectex.com   

About Heartwood Partners  

Heartwood Partners, located in Norwalk, Connecticut, is a middle market private equity firm founded in 1982. Heartwood currently manages over $1 billion in investments and commitments and our principals have invested in more than 100 platform and add-on acquisitions. Presently, the firm is investing from a $600 million fund focused primarily on family and management-owned manufacturers, value-added distributors, food, chemical, consumer products and business service companies, Heartwood is differentiated by a unique lower-leverage, distribution-yielding approach to private equity designed to create equity partnerships with continuing management. For more information about Heartwood Partners, visit the site at: www.heartwoodpartners.com 

The Sur-Seal® Company Named Cincinnati Enquirer’s Top Work Place in 2021

Sur-Seal is proud to announce that the Cincinnati Enquirer has recognized us as a 2021 “Top Work Place.” As an unparalleled workplace, Sur-Seal’s 4-year winning streak also includes national “Best Place to Work” awards from Rubber & Plastics News in 2019 and 2020. Companies who were nominated were scored based on surveys completed by employees that measured the company’s commitment to community, connection, alignment, and more. We are honored for the recognition of our employee satisfaction and work environment.

“Sur-Seal prides itself on outstanding employee satisfaction and company culture.”, said Jenna McHugh Vice President of Human Resources. “Not only do we offer an exceptional work environment, but we are committed to supporting our employee’s personal and career goals. It is outstanding to be a part of a company that offers continued education and a commitment to a positive work environment.”

Sur-Seal has grown significantly over the years, but we have remained committed to creating an environment where each employee is respected and allowed career advancement opportunities. Sur-Seal also has a Culture team dedicated to upholding Sur-Seal’s core values as a company. Our commitment to employee experience continues to be an asset to our employees and customers.

How to Eliminate Defects in Injection Molded Silicone Optics

Overview of virtual molding simulation for use with silicone optics. These simulations identify potential quality defects in the design and manufacturing process for optically clear liquid silicone rubber injection molded parts. Sur-Seal uses software to help identify and eliminate these before time and money is spent in production.

Prototyping Silicone Optics with Sur-Seal

Looking to prototype your next silicone optic concept? Sur-Seal can help you get your product prototyped & launched into production faster and for less money. Here’s how: 

Tooling:

Sur-Seal designs prototype tools that deliver the best combination of speed, flexibility, and quality.  

  1. Before the first chips of steel are cut, Sur-Seal is running molding simulations to optimize both the tool design & processing parameters. This minimizes tooling modifications, as well as eliminates the need for extensive process modifications once the mold is in the press.
  2. Sur-Seal’s in-house tooling center allows for us to control the entire timeline. We are not subject to the workload and availability of outside tooling vendors, shortening the time it takes to get parts in your hands.
  3. Because we build our prototype molds out of the same material as our production molds, your prototype parts will have the same level of quality as expected from a production mold.
  4. Sur-Seal builds its tools using a combination of mold bases & inserts – meaning that if you need to make a design modification after testing your concept, only the insert needs to be changed and we do not have to build an entirely new tool. This saves both time and money between design iterations. 
  5. We understand that getting parts in-hand as fast as possible is key for testing the form & fit of the component. That’s why Sur-Seal will sample your prototype mold both before and after the mold is polished. This gets you parts in-hand as fast as possible, allowing for form & fit checks in your assembly right away. 
  6. Sur-Seal can build prototype tools that are expandable, allowing your existing prototype mold to be transformed into a full production mold by adding cavities to the existing base. Your prototype mold is now equity applied towards your production tool, saving time and money versus a stand-alone production mold.

Experience & Expertise:

Our focus in optical grade silicone molding gives us a unique level of experience that ultimately translates to faster turnaround, better quality, and less wasteful spending. 

  1. Since Sur-Seal specializes in molding optical grades of silicone, we have multiple grades in-stock and ready to go. In-fact, the material is always in the press and ready to mold. No more waiting around for another material to be changed out, or for cross-contamination of different materials between runs.
  2. Sur-Seal has taken extensive steps to bring all of the necessary expertise under one roof. From running mold flow simulations, to designing the tools, to machining the molds and molding the parts – Sur-Seal is the one-stop-shop for everything you need.
  3. Our operators have a vast array of experience molding parts from these materials. They are keenly aware of the quality expectations of such applications and how the requirements go well beyond those of regular molded LSR components. This expertise translates into high-quality samples on the first try.

To get a quote on your next prototype mold, visit our website at www.sur-seal.com

Optical Silicone Vs. PC & PMMA

Optically Clear Silicone is rapidly replacing traditional optical grade materials such as Polycarbonate, PMMA, and Glass.  An evolving list of design demands that only silicone can solve is driving this revolution. 

Silicone’s unique combination of material properties set it apart from the alternatives. Some of the key highlights include: 

1.     Wide Operating Temperature Range (-40F to 400F) 

2.     Superior UV Aging & Weathering Resistance  

3.     Strong Impact Resistance (against vibration and vandalism)  

4.     Extremely Light Weight 

5.     High UL 94 Flammability Resistance Ratings 

Optical Silicone After Heat Aging, Compared to Polycarbonate and PMMA
Image courtesy of Dow

Beyond durability, the unique properties of injection molded liquid silicone rubber offers design freedoms that other materials cannot. Unlike thermoplastics that contract when injected into a mold, silicone expands in the mold – helping solve several issues such as:  

1.     Sink Marks from Thick Cross-Sections  

2.     Micro-Feature Replication (such as textures) 

3.     Under-Filled Sharp Features 

Silicone’s flexibility and forgiveness is an added bonus that other materials do not have, making it possible for designers to incorporate unique design features such as: 

1.     Small Angles & Undercuts (without sticking in the mold) 

2.    Long, Thin Features (without breaking when ejected) 

Optically Clear Silicone is also finding a home in medical applications thanks to its purity, with several grades meeting USP Class VI standards for biocompatibility.  These clear silicones have very low levels of both leachables and extractables, making it ideal for use in medical, diagnostic, and dental applications.

If you believe that silicone optics can help solve one of your design challenges, visit our website at www.sur-seal.com to get in-touch with an application engineer. 

Manufacturing Marvels

Sur-Seal was featured on the Manufacturing Marvels segment of the Lou Dobbs Tonight program that aired Monday, November 2, 2020.  In case you missed it, below is the feature. Watch to learn more about Sur-Seal’s history and growth into America’s leading producer of silicone optics, sealing technology, and thermal management materials.