Foreign Object Debris (FOD) Seals and Gaskets
Stockwell Elastomerics manufactures seals and gaskets used to reduce or prevent foreign object debris (FOD) from entering a component, assembly, system or vehicle. As a leading manufacturer of FOD seals, Stockwell Elastomerics is a key supplier to many original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in high tech industries such as spacecraft, aerospace, medical and semiconductor. Stockwell Elastomerics recognizes customers’ requirements for reducing foreign object debris, and has experience and demonstrated competence is making effective FOD sealing products.
What is Foreign Object Debris (FOD)?
Foreign object debris (FOD) is defined as a substance, debris or article alien to the component, assembly, system or vehicle that may cause damage or affect performance of the product. Specifications for contamination control were originally defined by NASA for the Space Shuttle program (Specification SN-C-0005), and have now been used and adapted for various industries.
Foreign material comes in many shapes and forms. It may present itself as loose flash from molding or water jet cutting, crumbs of die cut, waterjet cut or slit foam or sponge material, centers or slugs of die cut or waterjet cut bolt holes, pieces of adhesive release liner and similar debris. It may also be present as dirt or grime on material, oils from equipment, packing material, food and beverage contamination, metal shavings, or imbedded debris from our vendor’s manufacturing process.
Preventing foreign object debris is critical in many industries such as spacecraft, aerospace, medical and semiconductor. A seemingly harmless piece of dust or debris on a gasket in a low gravity or sensitive manufacturing environment can cause damage, contamination, and chain reaction defects.
Foreign Object Debris (FOD) Seals for Damage Prevention
Foreign object debris (FOD) seals manufactured by Stockwell Elastomerics are used to prevent loose objects such as fasteners, dust, sand, and other debris from entering areas that can damage equipment or injure personnel. FOD seals help to maintain the integrity and reliability of critical systems and are used in the medical, space, aerospace, and semiconductor industries. Materials of construction include silicone, which resists extreme temperatures and many chemicals while supporting application-specific requirements.
Stockwell Elastomerics fabricates FOD seals from silicone foam and silicone sponge; stock and custom materials are available in various thicknesses and densities for prototyping, low-volume or high-volume production. These FOD seals can also be made with an adhesive backing for ease of installation. Stockwell Elastomerics also distributes and fabricates aerospace grade silicone, medical grade silicone, low-outgassing silicone, and flame-resistant silicone for FOD seals.
FOD Seals for Medical Applications
Although the term “FOD seals” is used mainly by the aerospace and aviation industries, medical devices and medical equipment may also require protection against the ingress of foreign objects and contaminants. Typically, these medical gaskets are referred to as protective seals, covers, or barriers. No matter what they’re called, medical FOD seals help maintain cleanliness and sterility. By preventing the entry of contaminants and foreign objects, they also promote patient safety.
Stockwell Elastomerics manufactures three types of foreign object debris (FOD) seals for medical applications:
- Surgical instruments and equipment covers that are disposable or reusable, protecting surgical instruments and equipment during storage, transportation, or between procedures.
- Medical device seals that prevent the entry of dust, fluids, or other contaminants and are used in implants, catheters, and pumps. They also maintain sterility and prevent leakage.
- Protective covers for sensitive equipment used as barriers to prevent foreign object debris from accumulating on equipment such as ultrasound and X-ray machines.
Stockwell Elastomerics works with various medical device and medical equipment OEMs to provide custom FOD seals and gaskets that meet the stringent requirements of this critical health industry.
FOD Seals for Space Applications
For space industry applications, Stockwell Elastomerics manufactures FOD seals to customer specification to help protect engines and other critical components from foreign object debris damage, helping to improve efficiency and reduce unexpected downtime or even catastrophic failure. Stockwell Elastomerics often recommends and uses silicone and fluorosilicone to make FOD seals, providing strong FOD protection along with greater resistance to chemicals and extreme temperatures. In other cases, silicones that meet Aerospace Material Specifications (AMS) may be required and utilized; these include certain grades of silicone foam, silicone sponge, fluorosilicone, and solid silicone. Manufacturing process involved include die cutting, flash cutting, and molding. Material and process selection are critical in FOD seals and space applications sensitive to FOD, where Stockwell Elastomerics has deep experience in making FOD seals for use in the space industry.
FOD seals for space applications are designed to prevent foreign objects and contaminants from reaching critical parts of spacecraft. They are used in both manned and unmanned space flight and in both civilian and military operations, including satellites. When FOD seals are used near cameras, Stockwell Elastomerics often recommends low-outgassing silicones because released gases can condense upon and cloud optics. ASTM E595 requirements for outgas testing are based on NASA requirements.
Stockwell Elastomerics offers at least five types of foreign object debris (FOD) seals for space applications:
- Payload fairings use FOD seals between the fairing and the spacecraft to prevent the entry of foreign object debris during the launch or ascent phases.
- Hatch or door seals ensure a tight and secure closure while supporting crew access, equipment deployment, or payload integration.
- Propulsion systems use FOD seals to help protect propellant lines, valves, or engine chambers against contaminants or debris that could systems or equipment to malfunction.
- Solar panel deployment mechanisms use FOD seals to prevent the accumulation of small particles that could hinder the smooth deployment or operation of photovoltaic (PV) panels.
- Instrumentation and sensor housings use foreign object debris seals to protect scientific instruments, cameras, and sensors against FOD that could interfere with data collection.
FOD Seals for Aerospace
Stockwell Elastomerics manufactures FOD seals for aerospace industry applications that help protect engines and other critical components from FOD damage that could lead to reduced efficiency, unexpected downtime, or even catastrophic failure. AMS silicones that meet Aerospace Material Specifications (AMS) may be required. With their fluorine additions, fluorosilicone can also provide FOD protection along with greater resistance to chemicals and extreme temperatures.
Stockwell Elastomerics can provide six types of foreign object debris (FOD) seals for aerospace applications:
- Engine compartments use FOD seals to protect fan cowls, intake ramps, and exhaust systems against foreign object debris.
- Landing gear needs reliable protection against foreign object debris that could interfere with gear deployment or retraction.
- Access panels and doors help to facilitate aircraft maintenance and inspections but need secure sealing against FOD when closed.
- Control surfaces such as flaps, ailerons, and rudders use FOD seals to protect actuators and internal mechanisms.
- Avionics and electronics need seals that can resist dust, moisture, and other contaminants that could affect performance and reliability.
- Carbon and cabin doors need to provide a secure closure during flight. FOD seals help to maintain cabin pressurization, protect aircraft interiors, and ensure passenger safety and comfort.
Stockwell Elastomerics has strong experience with providing custom FOD seals and gaskets to numerous aerospace companies to provide foreign object debris protection and prevention solutions.
FOD Seals and Semiconductor Manufacturing
As in the medical industry, the term “FOD seals” is not typically used in semiconductor manufacturing. However, the need to maintain cleanliness during semiconductor fabrication requires sealing out fine particulate matter. Although this type of foreign object debris does not include small tools or loose fasteners, the challenge is significant because of the expense of semiconductor wafers and the value that is added during each step of semiconductor processing.
Stockwell Elastomerics can produce three types of foreign object debris (FOD) seals used in semiconductor manufacturing:
- Cleanrooms and cleanroom equipment use FOD seals to help minimize the presence of airborne particles and contaminants.
- Air filtration systems that use high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters to capture and trap airborne particles also use FOD seals, but for larger objects.
- Wafer carriers and handling systems use FOD seals to help prevent physical damage to semiconductor wafers during transport or processing.
Stockwell Elastomerics has been using its expertise in airflow management solutions in various applications for many years, and is now working with semiconductor manufacturers to solve tough FOD sealing problems in the semiconductor industry.
Contact Stockwell Elastomerics for Foreign Object Debris (FOD) Seals
Stockwell Elastomerics can help customers select the right FOD sealing and then fabricate foreign object debris (FOD) seals from silicones, fluorosilicones, or other elastomers to meet application-specific requirements. Contact us for further assistance.