Category Archive: insulation blankets
With nearly four decades in insulation blanket manufacturing, Firwin has quite a bit of experience with helping customers find the best insulation blanket solutions for their applications. Part of that experience includes helping clients fix pre-existing insulation problems, or helping to prevent potential mishaps in their insulation sourcing journey. In this blog, we explore two of the most common problems that we’ve seen clients run into while attempting to order insulation blankets.
Problem #1: Ordering Improperly Sized Blankets
A common occurrence that Firwin has encountered over the years is clients unintentionally ordering insulation blankets at the wrong dimensions. It’s an easy mistake to make without the proper experience and prior knowledge that comes from working with a variety of insulation projects, and the errors usually stem from the same issue. Clients will often forget a key component that needs to be taken into consideration: the thickness of the insulation blanket.
This can be most aptly demonstrated via a numerical example:
Let’s say that a client has a pipe that needs to be insulated that measures 5” in diameter and 12” in length.
To determine the blanket dimensions, clients know they need the surface area:
Surface Area = Circumference * length of pipe
To Calculate Pipe Circumference:
Circumference = Pi * Diameter
Circumference = 3.14 * 5” (diameter of pipe)
Circumference = 15.71”
The Common Mistake: The client submits their blanket dimensions as Surface Area = 15.71” (pipe circumference) * 12” (pipe length)
What Did They Forget? The thickness of the insulation blanket increases the actual “pipe diameter”.
What are the Real Dimensions? To account for the insulation blanket, the pipe diameter should be increased by approximately 1” per end, making the actual calculations:
Circumference = Pi * Diameter
Circumference = 3.14 * 7” (diameter of pipe)
Circumference = 21.99”
Actual Blanket Surface Area = 21.99” (pipe circumference) * 12” (pipe length)
The purpose of the above example is to demonstrate the “unknowns” that clients will run into when trying to purchase insulation blankets strictly by dimension. Even if the client has previously ordered insulation blankets to specific dimensions in the past, we exercise caution when taking on orders where only blanket dimensions are provided. This is especially true if the client is replacing non-Firwin blankets. We might recommend using different insulation materials and thicknesses than the clients current blankets. Small variations in blanket material makeup can lead to discrepancies within the final required blanket dimension.
To avoid this problem, Firwin recommends that clients refrain from placing insulation orders with exact blanket measurements and specifications. Instead, it should be left to the insulation provider to design the blankets and determine the final required blanket measurements. Allow the insulation provider to work with you to learn more about the project, and to determine exactly what you are trying to achieve with your insulation blankets. With a full understanding of the industry you are working within, and the environmental factors the blankets will be exposed to, the provider can make an educated decision on the materials required. From there, it can be a seamless process of the insulation provider providing the client with the exact dimensions and end product they need, without any mismeasurement problems occurring.
Problem #2: Not Receiving the Best Insulation Solution for Your Project
Another problem that Firwin has observed is clients potentially missing out on cost-effective insulation blanket solutions for their projects.
Similar to our recommendations to the first problem, we always advise that the client provide the insulation manufacturer with as many details as possible about the application that is being insulated. It’s possible that the blanket material makeup that a client is used to working with can be improved to create a stronger, more durable, or even cheaper final solution. Clients may simply be unaware of what options are available when it comes to insulating for their specific industry. By submitting strict blanket material requirements, without leaving room for assessment and consultation, the insulation manufacturer is unable to advise the customer and prevent inefficiencies in the blanket design.
To avoid running into this problem, we encourage all end users to send over photos, dimensions of the parts that need to be insulated, and as many details as possible about the environment and end-goal. This allows for the insulation blanket supplier to fully assess all of the factors impacting the component, and to come up with the most viable insulation options for the project. When clients allow the insulation providers to operate outside of the confines very specific blanket material makeup, the insulation experts are given the opportunity to play around with different materials, different shapes, and different overall outcomes, ultimately providing the best, and most elegant insulation solution.
For more information, download our eBook on “Choosing the Right Insulation Supplier.” This step-by-step, comprehensive guide is designed to help you when choosing your next insulation supplier.
Many of today’s modern engines have two chargers that help to improve engine efficiency, and for which insulation blankets have an important role to play—turbochargers and charge-air coolers.
To understand how insulation can help you get the best performance from your engine, you first need to know how turbochargers work. The function of a turbocharger is to increase the mass of air that enters the engine, which leads to a greater air/fuel mix and boosts the horsepower. This is achieved by an internal turbine and corresponding compressor. The turbine, which can spin at speeds over 200,000 rpm, drives a compressor, which increases the amount of air entering an engine’s cylinders. Because the turbocharger’s turbine is powered by the engine’s own exhaust and because of the rapid rpms, turbochargers run at extremely hot temperatures.
The extreme heat generated by turbochargers can stress sensitive engine parts in the piston and cylinder area, and have a detrimental effect on surrounding engine components and employee safety.
Unlike turbochargers, charge air coolers run cold. Charge air coolers work to cool the compressed air that leaves the compressor before the air enters the engine. The increased density of the colder air means that more air can fit into the engine, for greater power. Charge air coolers thus improve the efficiency of the turbocharger and engine by allowing a greater mass of air to enter the engine at one time.
Insulation blankets are used in conjunction with both turbochargers and charge air coolers. For turbochargers, the blankets keep the heat from escaping the turbochargers and from entering the surrounding engine components. For charge air coolers, insulation blankets are found on the hot piping that leads from the turbocharger to the cooler, in order to protect personnel who might be in the area.
To learn more about how Firwin’s insulation blankets can improve the efficiency of your engine, please visit our website or contact us today!
In case you haven’t noticed already, Firwin has a newly designed website for customers in the petrochemical, chemical, and oil & gas industries. The new site, www.firwinthermowrap.com, sports an updated look and feel, while keeping the navigation and content similar to our main site. In redesigning this online platform of our capabilities, products, and applications, we closely considered our customer’s needs. We’ve catered to audiences that are both familiar and unfamiliar with our company by streamlining the navigation, adding useful images, and highlighting our most popular products.
The first things that’ll catch your eye are the content buckets on the home page. The content buckets compartmentalize chunks of information that are specific to a certain topic. Experienced users, for example, will be able to access information about our products quickly by scanning the links under the list of Products & Services. Others that are newer to Firwin can read about our past successes by clicking on our various case studies. The new site prominently places a lot of important information for customers both new and old right on the home page.
We’ve also added quite a number of high resolution photos to the site, in a photo gallery. These pictures not only serve to educate new customers about our Thermowrap product line, but also may inspire experienced professionals with new solutions to equipment issues. You can view our Thermowrap products at work in a variety of different applications. One notable image in our photo gallery shows our product installed around a gate valve with glycol tracing, a complex piece of equipment with many bends and components. The images in our gallery may help you visualize how your next insulation project might look upon completion.
Overall, we’re focusing this new site on our Thermowrap product line of removable insulation covers. We hope that the site serves our customers in the petrochemical, oil & gas industries well and is a useful resource for anyone looking for insulation covers. If you haven’t seen it yet, please take a look at our new site today!
Wintertime, especially north of the border, means one thing: cold weather. Every year at this time, many of our industrial customers want to know if Firwin offers an insulation product that can keep piping and components from freezing. If you’ve ever owned a house, you know that frozen pipes can lead to disaster; now, just imagine if you are in charge of millions of dollars of industrial equipment under the same conditions.
At Firwin, we recognized that many of our customers operating in colder climates needed to find a way to both retain and create heat to keep their equipment safe and effective. After a number of tests and prototypes, our R&D department came up with the perfect solution, the ‘pizza blanket’. Modeled after the insulated satchels pizza delivery people use to keep your food warm during transit, our pizza blanket introduces heat through a series of electric coils in order to prevent equipment from freezing up in harsh conditions. Of course, our pizza blankets are more than just heating pads; they also have all the properties of standard removable insulation blankets, including the ability to retain and contain heat. The combination of heating elements and insulation blankets means that our customers who operate in the harshest cold-weather conditions can be sure their facilities will constantly run at peak performance.
So, if you’re facing a long cold winter and you need to know that your equipment won’t freeze up, contact Firwin today and let us tell you more about our innovative and cost-saving pizza blankets.
Odd shapes and sizes are always something that design engineers encounter when creating everything from pipe fittings to fasteners. With insulation blankets, varying geometries and protrusions from engine and exhaust components and process piping are regularly encountered in the design phase. At this point, when the surface to be covered isn’t smooth, how does that blanket fit?
Here is where our custom blanket services fit in. When it comes to the design portion of the production phase, our design engineers evaluate the surface and piping, and can create a blanket to accommodate any protrusions or cut outs.
How do we go about this with our customers? There are a few different options of reviewing and obtaining this kind of information. First and foremost, if the insulation blanket is needed in an emergency situation, with no lead time to make a custom cover, we can send a blanket and the customers can make the cut outs themselves according to the placement of the brackets. If that is not the situation, then our design engineers look at the end application. If the jacket will be covering a silencer, then they will supply the customer with a support brackets drawing they can fill out. If it’s a different component—such as for the oil and gas industry—we will then ask for CAD drawings or specific dimensions from the customer. Despite the application, it’s always pertinent for our design engineers to have drawings of the equipment that will be blanketed.
The most important aspect of the blanket design is that, according to our article, our “design team ensures that any cut-outs or openings are designed in such a way as to allow sufficient room for the protruding item, while minimizing any heat loss due to the lack of insulation.”
Whether you’re worried about complex geometries or protruding components on your equipment, don’t fear—our design engineers can create an insulation blanket for every application.
At Firwin, we always want to make sure that you get the most out of our removable insulation blankets. When you purchase any of Firwin’s removable insulation covers for the first time, we not only provide you with a high quality product, but also a world-class product information guide. The 24-page guide covers a wide variety of topics including:
- An overview of removable insulation blankets
- Detailed installation instructions including common errors to avoid
- A closer look at harder to identify parts like segmented elbows, flanges, and cones
- Alternative fastening methods
- How to care for new blankets
- How to keep the highest level of safety during usage
The guide includes diagrams and photos, allowing those who are new to our insulation blankets to properly install them.
While we provide top quality covers, we also want to provide top quality service. Is there anything missing from the guide? If so, let us know!
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.
- Firwin’s fastening systems are extremely strong, but it is important to avoid excess force when installing your insulation blankets.
- It isn’t always easy, but for the best service, keep your blankets as clean as possible.
- Promptly remove or clean off all chemicals that cause deterioration of aluminum or silicone coatings.
- Avoid oil saturation; this will render your blanket’s “non-combustible” characteristics ineffective. You will then need to replace the covers.
- Treat blankets like all parts of the engine and inspect them regularly.
- 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!
In our last installment of Choosing the Right Material for Your Insulation Blankets, we went over basic insulation materials. This time around, let’s review more in-depth and discuss outer and inner covers. We have a lot of ground to cover, so we will break down the materials into three categories of usage: Outer Covers, Inner Liners, and those than can do both.
- Aluminized Fiberglass – Also known as Mirrored Fiberglass, it offers great aesthetic qualities and is used in place of silicone and PTFE where aesthetics are important. It has an advantage over fiberglass and PTFE—even when the aluminum coating breaks down at 450°F (230°C), the fiberglass substrate maintains its integrity up to 1000°F (538°C).
- Heavy Duty Silicone – Often used in more severe outdoor applications when resistance to wear and tear is necessary. It is flexible, flame retardant and water, oil, mold, and chemical resistant. Has a temperature range of -67°F (-55°C) to 500°F (260°C).
- Stainless Steel Laminate Fiberglass – Quite expensive but is perfect where high levels of oil, chemical, and fire resistance are required. Unlike aluminized fiberglass, when its coating breaks down the laminate foil retains its integrity and can continue to act as a fluid barrier.
- Stainless Steel Mesh 304 – This common inner liner is used in most standard situations and has a temperature range up to 1200°F (649°C).
- Stainless Steel Mesh 309, 316 – 309 offers a higher temperature range of 1800°F (982°C), while 316 is made specifically with marine environments in mind.
- Stainless Steel Mesh Foil with Mesh Cover – Roughly, the same as 309 but offers a fluid barrier.
- Stainless Steel Mesh Inconel – This top-of-the-line liner offers the highest temperature range (2300°F/1260°C) but is quite expensive.
Outer Cover and Inner Liner
- Silicone Impregnated Fiberglass – A standard outer cover that is also used as an inner liner for applications < 500°F where a fluid barrier or insulation fiber containment is desired.
- PTFE Coated Fiberglass – Interchangeable with and used in place of silicone in paint, food, and other chemical applications thanks to its broader chemical resistance. Both are flexible, flame retardant, water, oil, and mold resistant.
- PVC – If you do not have a need for a high temperature rating, this is a good low-cost alternative to silicon and PTFE.
- Fiberglass HT – A non-coated fabric used both as an outer cover and inner liner in high temperature conditions of >500°F/260°C. Also good for containing insulation fibers.
- Silica – Another multi-use, non-coated fabric, Silica is perfect for extreme high temperature conditions of >1300°F/982°C. It is more expensive but is also fireproof, mold resistant, and good for containing insulation fibers.
Choosing the correct insulation blanket material makeup can be daunting—you need industry experts at a company like Firwin to recommend the right combination for your application.
Choosing the Right Insulation Blanket Supplier
We have already discussed the criteria that need to be analyzed when choosing the correct insulation blanket material. With that out of the way, now it is time to look at the actual insulation materials typically found in insulation blankets.
- Fiberglass – This classic insulation material is used in most standard insulation blanket applications. It is odorless, does not contribute to metal corrosion, is excellent at sound absorption, and resists decay, mold, and vermin. Fiberglass has a temperature limit of 1200°F (649°C), so it is not right for higher temperature applications.
- CMS Wool – This material is slightly more expensive than fiberglass, but it has a much higher temperature limit of 2192°F (1200°C). It’s also odorless, does not contribute to metal corrosion, is excellent at sound absorption, and can withstand decay, mold, and vermin.
- Mineral Wool – The big plus of mineral wool is its low moisture absorption qualities and excellent thermal resistance. Its temperature limits are the same as fiberglass, and it is a decent sound and vibration absorber. It is also slightly more economical than fiberglass.
- Aerogel – This is the top-of-the-line when it comes to insulation materials. It is superior to both fiberglass and CMS wool and is ideal for a limited clearance application or where blanket weight is a concern. In fact, ½” thick Aerogel has the same properties as 1.5” thick fiberglass. As you might expect, it also carries with it a top-of-the-line price tag. It also has a slightly lower temperature limit of 1100°F (600°C).
Stay tuned for Part 3, where we cover the different materials available for your insulation’s outer and inner covers.
Choosing the Right Insulation Blanket Supplier
When it comes to insulation covers, blankets, and jackets, one size does not fit all. In order to match your specific application with the correct insulation materials, quite a few factors need to be considered. An incorrect insulation blanket can cost you money, time, and even the safety of your workers and customers. Some of the factors that must be taken into consideration when selecting the correct insulation materials for your particular application include:
- Maximum temperature range of the application in question – If your insulation cannot handle the temperatures your application demands, then it is at best, ineffective, and at worst, dangerous.
- Desired outer surface “touch” temperature – What temperature do you need the outside of the insulation cover to be? Does it need to be ‘touch-safe’, or are you just trying to lower the ambient temperature in the surrounding area?
- Exposure to elements (i.e. water, chemicals, debris, etc.) – What will your insulation have to go through? Can it handle the water, chemicals, and debris thrown its way?
- Safety and regulatory requirements – Are there certain standards (i.e. UL, fire safety, etc) that your insulation covers must meet?
- Space limitations – How much room do you have to work with? Space constraints can influence both the insulation thickness and type of insulation material recommended.
- Frequency of insulation removal – If you need to remove the insulation often for equipment maintenance or adjustments, it will play a role in what fastening materials are chosen.
- Aesthetic requirements – Last but certainly not least, do you need your insulation covers to match their surroundings or conform to a certain corporate color?
It is imperative that your insulation blanket provider is aware of these basic factors. Your Firwin rep can walk you through these steps and ensure that you get the right blanket for your application.
Choosing the Right Insulation Blanket Supplier