ReAgent has recently been part of the Softslide project, a consortium of seven European partners whose expertise completes the industrial supply chain required for the mass commercialisation of ground-breaking sealing technology. The consortium also includes a process manufacturer, a technical expert, a laser engraving expert, and two analytical testing companies.
Softslide’s objectives were to make €60 million in revenue and open up 350 jobs through the commercialisation of this new technology; a mass production process that transfers micro-patterns during the moulding stage to obtain low-friction, high-performing dynamic seals for hydraulic and pneumatic machinery. These seals can be used in a variety of industries including automotive, aerospace, farming, and mining – plus more.
SoftSlide technology will provide the sealing industry with around €3,315 million per year in energy savings for hydraulic and pneumatic end-users.
The conclusion of the Softslide project
The Softslide project finished on the 31st October 2019, and all the final reports have been uploaded. The report investigated product sustainability of the textured rubber seals using two different approaches. The first was as a single passive product, and the second was as part of a bigger product or system with energy consumption. The SoftSlide technology was analysed in comparison with textured versus untextured seals for both approaches and for different use cases. All indicators showed a big impact of the SoftSlide technology in both cost and energy savings.
This is the conclusion of the final report:
The technology is ready for the market and can be easily implemented in industrial applications without modifying the systems and with a fast pay-back, which gives it a financial incentive.
- Environmental impacts and costs incurred because of the additional texturing process by laser in the moulding tool is negligible in comparison with the rest of the aspects of the materials and manufacturing phases
- Application of the new coating to facilitate the demoulding processes in rubber seals can have a big impact due to the reduced quantity of application required, better durability, and more sustainable chemical composition.
- Additionally, due to these characteristics, the release agent can be easily adapted by other applications aside from rubber seals such as thermoplastic moulding
- As a passive part of bigger products or systems, the energy impact of friction reduction in rubber seals can vary in terms of total energy consumption (from 0.1% to 10%). Taking into account global energy consumption of the systems, cost savings will be between more than €20million per year for pneumatic actuators and more than €150million per year in the paper machines industry
- Likewise, the reduction of CO2 will fluctuate between more than 0.1 million tons CO2-eq per year for pneumatic actuators to more than 1.2 million tons CO2-eq per year in the paper machines industry
Overall, the Softslide project has been a resounding success and ReAgent is very pleased to have been a part of the process.