Category Archive: caring for insulation blankets

Velcro Fasteners – What You Need to Know

velcro fastenerAmong the fastening systems we offer for our removable insulation blankets is Velcro. An excellent and easy to use fastener, Velcro is often used in applications which require a simple and quick fastening method. Velcro fastening does, however, come with some limitations, which users need to be aware of in order for it to function as intended.

Background – How It Works

Velcro is actually the trade name for what is generically known as ‘Hook and Loop’ fastening. The hook‐and‐loop fastener was conceived in 1941 by Swiss engineer George de Mestral who lived in Commugny, Switzerland. The idea came to him one day after returning from a hunting trip with his dog in the Alps. He took a close look at the burrs (seeds) of burdock that kept sticking to his clothes and his dog’s fur. He examined them under a microscope, and noted their hundreds of “hooks” that caught on anything with a loop, such as clothing, animal fur, or hair. He saw the possibility of binding two materials reversibly in a simple fashion if he could figure out how to duplicate the hooks and loops. It took de Mestral around 10 years to perfect the process, and Velcro was born.

Velcro Fastening on Removable Insulation Blankets

Velcro fastening systems are supplied on rolls of paired woven tapes. The materials used in making these woven tapes are typically one or more of nylon, polyester, and Nomex (a flame‐resistant meta‐aramid material developed in the early 1960s by DuPont). Each paired tape has a loop tape, with loops made from the same fiber as the woven tape, and a hook tape. The hook tape, regardless of what material the woven tape is made from, typically has nylon or polyester hooks. For example, when ordering a Nomex Velcro, even though the base tape and loops are made with Nomex, the hooks will still be made with Nylon or Polyester.

Velcro can either be used as the prime fastening system where the Velcro keeps the blanket closed, or it can be used as a secondary or complementary fastener, as in the case of ‘D rings’, where the ‘D rings’ fasten the blanket and the Velcro is only used to secure the ‘D ring’ strap in place.

Why Velcro Fastening Sometime Becomes Ineffective

Velcro tapes are temperature rated when ‘closed’ (i.e. when hook and loop are fastened). In fact clothing manufacturers always require the Velcro tape to be closed before ironing/pressing garments ‐ and which is why you should also fasten any Velcro garments before putting them in the washer / dryer! So a Nomex base Velcro with nylon or polyester hooks will have a slightly higher temperature rating (350°F / 177°C) than a  polyester‐based Velcro (280°F /   138°C), as the Nomex provides some additional heat protection for the nylon / Straps with Velcro &”D” Ring Fastening System polyester hooks when the tape is in the closed state. For temperatures beyond 350°F / 177°C, stainless steel hooks are available. Depending on the base tape used, stainless steel hooked Velcro tape can be used in applications as high as 450°F / 232°C for Nomex‐based tape, to as high as 800° F / 426° C  for Velcro tapes constructed completely from 300 series stainless steel. The higher one goes on the temperature scale, the more expensive the Velcro tape becomes, especially the stainless steel versions. Because of this price premium, Velcro fastening is  most commonly  found on removable insulation blankets used in temperature ranges which can support nylon or polyester hooks.

As mentioned, both Nylon and Polyester have a temperature tolerance up to 280°F / 138°C , beyond which they tend to break down or melt if brought into contact with a heated surface. In practice, manufacturers like to err on the side of caution, and typically call for a temperature limit of 200°F / 93°C.  This means that as long as the outside temperature of the insulation blanket (the ‘cold face’) is below this temperature limit, Nylon and Polyester Velcro should function properly. For example, for a pipe of 3” or 4” diameter, with a room temperature ambient, a typical 1” thick insulation blanket would allow for an internal temperature of up to 800° F / 426° C before the outside face temperature went beyond 200°F / 93°C.

The ‘weak point’ on a Velcro fastener is typically the hooks since they are so fine. Once the hooks are damaged from contact with high temperatures the fastening tape becomes ineffective. This is the most common reason for breakdown of Velcro tapes. Even the accidental brushing of the hook tape against a hot surface is sufficient to damage the hooks. Another common cause of Velcro tape breakdown is when the loops and hooks get clogged up with dust of grime.

Are Velcro Fastened Removable Insulation Blankets Right For You?

As mentioned above, the main benefit of Velcro fastening is the ease in which an insulation blanket can be installed and removed. However, there are situations where Velcro may not be the recommended fastening method. “For low temperature applications, Velcro can be an excellent fastening method”, notes Brett Herman, Firwin’s Vice President of Sales and Customer Service. “This is especially true if the customer requires a fastening method that is easy to install and / or remove.”

“However, there are some drawbacks that customers need to be aware of. Firstly, most Velcro come with polyester or nylon hooks, and if these are exposed to heat approaching 280°F, the hooks can become damaged and the Velcro fastener will no longer be effective. While stainless steel Velcro hooks are an option, they are quite expensive, and even they are limited to 800° F / 426° C  – so if the application is very high temperature, these hooks also pose the risk of getting damaged through accidental contact.”

snap fastener“Secondly, when compared to the ‘standard method’ of fastening blankets via stainless steel lacing wire and rivets, Velcro has an added cost component, mainly from the increased labor needed to produce a Velcro blanket. So for customers looking for a ‘lowest cost’ solution, and for whom ease of installation and removal is not so crucial, an alternative fastening method would be better suited”, added Brett.

Proper Care of Velcro Fastened Removable Insulation Blankets

The recommended use of Velcro when used on insulation blankets, for hot Removable Insulation Blanket with lacing wire & rivet fastening Other blanket fastening methods: Snaps, Straps, Springs equipment and heater bands, is to install and remove blankets when the machine or surface is cold.

Firwin blankets are designed to ensure that Velcro fastenings with nylon / polyester hooks are mounted on the cold side of the blanket insulated from the hot surface by a suitable insulation layer. To be safe, we like to add a buffer to the temperature limit, and call for a temperature below 200⁰F [93 ⁰C] to make sure that the hooks will not be damaged. Care should be taken at all times not to allow the hook side of the blanket to brush up against such a hot surface.

As well, blankets should not be kept in grimy areas, or any place where dirt or molten plastics can get into the Velcro.

Other Articles:  Insulation Blankets Taking Charge   ∙    Covers for Industrial Valves

Blanket Installation Tips

Blanket Installation Tips

Insulation blankets help protect personnel by containing potentially dangerous temperatures inside the affected component so that the ambient environment remains stable and safe.  Insulation blankets can also control temperatures during mechanical operations to keep temperature fluctuations from damaging the surrounding equipment. Although most insulation blankets are designed to prevent heat from transferring outside of a hot component, they can also be used to insulate cold areas or keep them from freezing.

Firwin’s insulation blankets are removable so workers can access the equipment beneath them for maintenance and repairs. But it’s critical to properly reinstall the blanket after servicing to ensure there aren’t any gaps in coverage. Even minor rifts can leak heat into the surrounding area, potentially decreasing the overall operational efficiency and creating a hazard to nearby workers.

As a premier provider of industrial insulation solutions for customers in a range of industries and applications, Firwin has the knowledge and expertise to insulate your equipment and make your workplace safer. In the passage below, our seasoned experts share tips on how to ensure your removable insulation blanket is installed correctly.

Get the Right Tools

To install an insulation blanket, you’ll need the following tools:

Safety Gear

If the equipment is hot or continuously operating, workers must have the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to defend against surface heat, ambient heat, steam, liquids, chemicals, and any other unsafe conditions that may arise. The installer should wear protective gloves while handling the cable lacing.

Stainless Steel Lacing Wire

Firwin’s removable industrial blankets typically use stainless steel lacing wire to wrap the blankets around the equipment and fasten the edges to the rivets on the blanket. The wire offers a reliable and durable bond that is temperature-resistant and long-lasting, even in extreme conditions. Other fastening methods are also available.

Pliers or Side Cutters

The installation technician will likely use a set of pliers or side cutters to twist and manipulate the lacing wire and fasten the blanket to the equipment. They may need to cut the wire to size once it has been laced.

Installation Guide

Before you begin your installation, double-check that your equipment matches with the corresponding label on your blanket. Firwin’s insulation blankets come in a broad range of sizes, configurations, and designs that are specially engineered to provide optimal coverage for corresponding pieces of standard equipment. Placing the wrong blanket on a component will not offer the coverage you need and could result in unsafe gaps or overlap that reduces the efficacy of your insulation.

Have a Plan or Template

Blanket installation processes vary depending on the equipment configuration and facility. Before you begin, decide where each blanket will go and the order in which you plan to install them. Some blankets are designed to go above or below others, so you need to put a detailed installation plan in place to avoid errors or unnecessary delays.

If your system includes unions or elbows, note that both union and elbow blankets should be installed after the standard pipe insulation blankets have already been fastened.

Ensure Full Coverage

Here are some additional tips to ensure your insulation blankets are installed with optimal coverage:

Overlap Edges

Blanket flaps should overlay at the seams without creating any gaps or spaces. Even small gaps can allow heat transfer, thereby reducing the efficiency of your system.

Crisscross Wiring

Lace the wire around each rivet across the blanket’s seam in a crisscross pattern. Then trim and bend the excess wire to ensure that it stays in place and won’t catch on other pieces of fabric or equipment. Make sure to secure the wire on the union and elbow blankets to the rivets of the primary insulation blanket for optimal coverage and stability.

 Choose Firwin for Superior Insulation Solutions

At Firwin, we are proud to offer an extensive range of removable and permanent insulation solutions for industrial equipment. Our state-of-the-art facilities allow us to custom-tailor solutions to meet the needs of any application. To learn more about our quality insulation products and services, or if you need help installing equipment, contact the experts at Firwin today!

Tips on Caring for your Removable Insulation Blankets

At Firwin, we take pride in the performance and longevity of our removable insulation blankets.  We manufacture all of our products to withstand the toughest and most challenging environments, be it hundreds of feet underground or on the roughest seas. In order to make sure our insulation jackets maintain peak performance, it helps to follow a few easy care tips.

removeable insulation blankets
  1. Firwin’s fastening systems are extremely strong, but it is important to avoid excess force when installing your insulation blankets.
  2. It isn’t always easy, but for the best service, keep your blankets as clean as possible.
  3. Promptly remove or clean off all chemicals that cause deterioration of aluminum or silicone coatings.
  4. Avoid oil saturation; this will render your blanket’s “non-combustible” characteristics ineffective. You will then need to replace the covers.
  5. Treat blankets like all parts of the engine and inspect them regularly.
  6. Last but not least, always take care not to cut or damage the outer protective cover fabrics. It helps to limit the usage of sharp instruments around all insulation blankets.

If you follow all of these steps, you can automatically increase the lifespan of your removable insulation blankets. If you have more blanket care questions, please contact one of our insulation blanket experts today!