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The Publisher
12-24-2010, 06:00 AM
At the DEMA show I ran into a Swiss manufacturer who made drysuit wrist and neck seals out of silicone rubber.

The issue with latex is it is subject to ozone degradation. I spoke with them at length and they said their issue was creating one that could be bonded to suits as it is quite difficult to get anything to adhere to silicone rubber.

I took photos and once I find them, I will post them.

mbelair
12-24-2010, 12:35 PM
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acelockco
12-24-2010, 09:51 PM
They are supposed to be available from TUSA and SI Tech here in the USA. I know there is some compatibility issues with latex and silicone, so I am not sure if they will work for retrofit or new installation only or the difficulty of installing these. They look to be a HUGE improvement over latex seals which rip and tear very easily and degrade over a rather short time. I have latex wrist seals on my dry suit and they are starting to degrade. I am sure they are not going to make it too much longer, so I may try the silicone if replacements are available for my rig. I use a neoprene neck seal, and have no complaints about it and don't think I would want to change over to silicone on that one. The neoprene is way more comfortable for me then the latex and is very durable. Another benefit is that the neoprene is MUCH warmer then latex. I have also never had issues with any of my seals leaking....other parts of the dry suit, not so much.
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The Publisher
12-25-2010, 01:24 AM
Yes those are the people I took photos of their products.

The issue isn't so much about latex sealing, it is that latex degrades from ozone and age, silicone holds up remarkably better.

I have had my latex neck deal rip completely apart on a multi-day dive trip.

acelockco
12-26-2010, 02:10 AM
I figured those were the folks.

You are definitely not the only one that has had a dive trip ruined by a torn seal. They seem to rip during the worst possible moment, but you can usually rig up some duct tape to get through one dive. It is usually pretty easy with the wrist seals, but the neck seals are another story.

Rcontrera
12-27-2010, 01:13 AM
The biggest problem with latex is not the seals themselves. It is that most manufacturers us cheap glue that is softened by silicone oil, grease or spray. Silicone is an excellent preservative and protection for rubber. By recommending using talc, there is no preservation of the rubber so it can tear or degrade easily.

Silicone rubber is interesting stuff, but highly susceptible to tearing at weak points. Those weak points are formed by bubbles or contaminants in the solution. At DEMA, three wrist seals and one neck tore like paper before we could get them installed on our mannequin.

They are a great idea ... but I will have to wait to see since I use silicone oil on my latex seals and they regularly last me 5 years or more.

acelockco
12-29-2010, 12:53 AM
I use talc on my wrist seals and they have to be at least 10 years old have have hundreds of dives on them. I know that silicone is going to cause an issue later down the road when the seals need to be replaced as silicone will prevent the adhesive from bonding properly. The glue is not softened by silicone, but rather the silicone acts as a release agent, allowing the glue to cure without bonding the materials.

No matter what type of seals anyone decides to use, the real life saver here is one of the quick release seal systems. All seals are going to eventually fail, having a replacement that can be installed while on the dive boat in a matter of minutes is going to save dives.

Rcontrera
12-31-2010, 06:55 AM
The glue is not softened by silicone, but rather the silicone acts as a release agent, allowing the glue to cure without bonding the materials.

In the case of neoprene cement like what is used by DUI and Harvey's, it does soften the glue by loosening the bond between the neoprene particles in the glue.

But you're right that it leaves a residue that, if not cleaned properly, can keep those glued from sticking. OS Systems has promoted the used of silicone since 1981 and it works so good that several drysuit manufacturers have tried to get the same glue but have failed because it is a proprietary product.

The Publisher
12-31-2010, 04:18 PM
Keeping a drysuit, o-rings, fin straps or any thin rubber anywhere near a refrigerator is a death sentence from the ozone produced by the electric motor.

acelockco
12-31-2010, 09:23 PM
Keeping a drysuit, o-rings, fin straps or any thin rubber anywhere near a refrigerator is a death sentence from the ozone produced by the electric motor.

Very true, I was also told not to leave them near anything like a hot water heater, gas furnace, etc.....obviously because of the heat, chance of fire or whatever, but something that is emitted by the burning fuel that does something bad to the dry suits. I am usually one to look into the reasons why, but I would never store my dry suit in my heater room so I never looked into it.

acelockco
12-31-2010, 09:27 PM
In the case of neoprene cement like what is used by DUI and Harvey's, it does soften the glue by loosening the bond between the neoprene particles in the glue.

But you're right that it leaves a residue that, if not cleaned properly, can keep those glued from sticking. OS Systems has promoted the used of silicone since 1981 and it works so good that several drysuit manufacturers have tried to get the same glue but have failed because it is a proprietary product.

Gotcha, I have a Bare and a Moby's dry suits and have not had to replace any seals on them yet....YET. I had on older suit a while back, I think it was in Imperial. Replacing the seals on that SUCKED!!!! I actually don't think I ever did finish and ended up buying my Bare.

Anyway, no matter what I am thrilled to see that companies are starting to address the dry suit seal issue as it has been an ongoing problem that no one has seemed to even come close to perfecting yet.

Okeanos
01-03-2011, 11:05 PM
My seals last as long as my suits, 2-2.5 years max, around 1000 dives. Silicon may be more comfortable than latex but I've switched to neoprene now.

Rcontrera
01-04-2011, 01:15 AM
I had on older suit a while back, I think it was in Imperial. Replacing the seals on that SUCKED!!!!

The old Imperial is actually the suit that we did most of our glue experimenting on. We supplied glues and latex to Parkway (the old owner of Imperial) near the end of the regime and it got our processes down pat! We used silicone to preserve and lubricate the latex making them last a LONG time. However, it required using MEK to clean the residue from the suit when changing seals. Not a big deal but did add one additional step.

However, Parkway/Imperial decided not to endorse the silicone since they wanted to sell seals and also had a huge corner on the neoprene cement market with their "Old Man" glue. So they said to use talc ... which does a great job at hiding rubber degradation.