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Finding the Right Insulation Material

Insulation blankets (also known as insulation covers or insulation jackets) come in a variety of material options, some of which are better suited to certain tasks and environments than others. You need to ensure that your chosen material can meet the demands of your specific application as efficiently as possible.

Our quick guide to the most common insulation materials can ensure that you have the information you need to make an informed decision regarding the right insulation solution for your particular situation, while saving you time and money down the line.

Material Advantages Disadvantages
General Insulation Materials
  • Odorless
  • Doesn’t cause corrosion in metals
  • Temperature limit of 1200°F (649°C) leaves it poorly suited to higher temperature applications
CMS Wool
  • Temperature limit of 2192°F (1200°C)
  • Odorless
  • Slightly more expensive than fiberglass
Mineral Wool
  • Low moisture absorption
  • Excellent thermal resistance
  • Shares the same temperature limits as fiberglass
  • Top-of-the-line insulation material
  • Very expensive
Outer Covers
Aluminized Fiberglass or Mirrored Fiberglass
  • Maintains structural integrity at temperatures up to 1000°F (538°C)
  • Aluminum coating breaks down at 450°F (230°C)
Heavy Duty Silicone
  • Ideal for challenging outdoor applications where resistance to wear and tear is necessary
Stainless Steel Laminate Fiberglass
  • Perfect for applications that require high resistance to oil, chemical, and fire
  • Very expensive
Inner Liners
Stainless Steel Mesh 304
  • Temperature range up to 1200°F (649°C)
Stainless Steel Mesh 309,316
  • High temperature range of 1800°F (982°C)
Stainless Steel Mesh Foil with Mesh Cover
  • Same as 309 but offers fluid barrier
Stainless Steel Mesh Inconel
  • Top-of-the-line liner with high temperature range of 2300°F (1260°C)
  • Very expensive
Outer Cover & Inner Liner
Silicone Impregnated Fiberglass
  • Standard outer cover for most applications
  • Can serve as inner liner at temperatures greater than 500°F
PTFE Coated Fiberglass
  • Effective alternative to silicone in paint, food, and chemical applications thanks to broad chemical resistance
  • Low cost alternative to silicone and PTFE
Fiberglass HT
  • Non-coated fabric used as outer cover and inner liner when temperatures exceed 500°F (260°C)
  • Multi-use, non-coated fabric
  • Great in temperatures greater than 1300°F (982°C)
  • More expensive
Fastening Systems
Stainless Steel Lacing Wire with Rivets
  • Withstands high heat (1200°F/649°C)
  • More cost-effective than other options
Silicone Straps with Buckles/Rings
  • Can be quickly installed and removed
  • Has a lower temperature limit (500°F/260°C)
Kevlar Straps with Buckles/Rings
  • Greater durability and higher temperature limit (700°F/371°C) than silicone
  • More expensive
Stainless Steel Mesh Straps with Buckles/Rings
  • Rugged top-of-the-line system with a high temperature limit (1200°F/649°C)
  • More expensive
  • Easily assembled and removed
  • High temperature limit (1200°F/649°C)
  • Very similar to springs
  • Poorly suited to curved surfaces and low volume applications
Velcro (polyester)
  • Easily applied and removed
  • Very low temperature limit of 200°F/93°C
Nomex Velcro
  • Similar to standard Velcro, but has a slightly higher heat threshold (280°F/138°C)
Stainless Steel Velcro hooks with Nomex Velcro Fasteners
  • ess sensitive to dirty environments than other Velcro products
  • Somewhat expensive

It can be a challenge to find the right insulation blanket, cover, or jacket. Fortunately, the experts at Firwin are ready to help you choose the correct insulation material or combination for your application. Read our free eBook to learn about everything you should look for in your insulation blanket supplier.

Why Choose Firwin?

With over 30 years of experience in the field, Firwin is proud to be a premier manufacturer of removable insulation blankets and permanent composite Hard Coat™ insulation solutions.

Our business was built on our commitment to provide our customers with the best insulation solution for their particular situation, and it’s from this strong foundation that we’ve emerged as a leading insulation solutions provider for companies across a diverse range of industries.

Firwin’s Key Capabilities

  • Custom insulation products — Firwin offers various permanent and removable thermal solutions. Our product inventory includes removable insulation blankets, Thermo-Wrap™ insulation covers, metal foil, and Hard Coat™ composites.
  • Insulation solutions for a variety of industries — Firwin creates reliable, practical products for many different industries, from power generation and mining to military and marine.
  • Diverse insulation applications — Our products are used for various applications, such as exhaust piping covers, silencer insulation, engine insulation, turbines, industrial solutions, and vehicle insulation.
  • Stocked insulation and safety products — Insulation material, tapes, sleeves, hose wraps, spray shields, and sound attenuation solutions are among our most popular stocked products.

Technical Capabilities

Firwin adheres to the highest standards of design and manufacturing, and we invest in the best technology available today. Here’s a breakdown of our key technical capabilities and resources:

  1. Team of skilled engineers
  2. Design processes using software programs including AutoCAD and SolidWorks
  3. Computer-controlled cutting

OEM Capabilities

We understand the unique needs of growing OEMs. When Firwin creates a custom insulation solution for a client, we ensure:

  • Designs are scalable for shifting manufacturing capacities
  • Detailed pricing matrices and catalog lists are kept on hand by our responsive sales team
  • Product support is at your fingertips

Case Studies

For a better illustration of how Firwin helps our customers, a couple of case studies are outlined below.

Ship Lagging Overhaul: A Marine Application

  • Problem — A fleet of drill ships was experiencing torn exhaust lagging, or insulation. The customer wanted Firwin to construct removable insulation blankets that would meet specific size and thickness specifications set by the customer. Rather than just produce blankets to a specific spec without knowledge of the components they were meant to cover, Firwin encouraged the customer to share more of their product details and allow Firwin’s engineers to determine the most appropriate blanket design that would best meet the customer’s needs; the customer agreed.
  • Solution — Firwin’s design team prepared two options for the customer, both elegant solutions that would cover both the exhaust flex and upper/lower flanges while meeting the customer’s specifications: 1) a single blanket that would cover the flex and the flanges (similar to the client’s original solution), and 2) a three-blanket solution, in which separate blankets would be made for the flex and flanges. The customer chose the three-blanket solution, as it would provide more flexibility and greater ease of use.

Heat Flow Analysis and Containment: A Non-OEM Application

  • Problem — A company needed to insulate a silencer located in their in-house testing room as they were concerned about its high heat generation within the limited space. To assess how much insulation would be required to properly protect the equipment, Firwin conducted a heat flow analysis.
  • Solution — Using new flow simulation software, a dramatic improvement over past technology, the Firwin team was able to use accurate data validation to inform the client’s insulation decision. Firwin’s heat flow analysis indicated that only the top of the silencer needed to be insulated to achieve the desired heat containment. The client moved forward with insulating the recommended portion of the equipment and successfully reduced the silencer’s heat generation, without needlessly spending money on blankets for the entire silencer body.

Find the Custom Solution You’ve Been Looking For

Beginning as a small family business, Firwin has grown to become an industry leader in custom insulation products for wide-ranging industrial applications across the world.

Clean Water and Removable Insulation Blankets – Sounds Good!

When one thinks of clean drinking water, many things may come to mind – natural water sources, reservoirs, treatment facilities, to name a few. But you may be surprised to learn that removable insulation blankets have a role to play in bringing that fresh water to your table.

Sometimes, that role has to do with heat management. But every so often, we are called upon to helped with sound and vibrations issues that can crop up in industrial facilities. And such was to case recently at a local water treatment plant, where the ‘Ozone Generators’ (used to disinfect the water at the treatment plant) were letting off some ‘not so good vibrations’, making the surrounding area uncomfortable to work in.
After a study recommended removable insulation as a solution to the excess noise and vibration, the Firwin team was called in to propose a solution.

The final product was a blend of 2″ thick mineral insulation coupled with a lb/ft² sound sheet. Since only ends of the vessel were to be covered, our design engineers also had to incorporate a unique fastening method to ensure that the blankets remained in place.
A follow up study done by the Generator manufacturer concluded that “by covering the Generator covered at both ends with a noise blanket, the noise was greatly reduced below the specification requirements of 80 dbm”.
If you need some help on a sound or vibration issue, feel free to give us a call.

Gimme Some Space – How Much Clearance is Necessary for an Insulation Blanket?

Insulation Blankets – Thicknesses and Clearances

It is important that there is enough room around any component being insulated to allow enough space not only for the insulation blanket, but also for sufficient air space between the insulation blanket and any nearby surfaces. A lack of air space between the outer surface of an insulation blanket and another object can cause a heat build up on the blanket’s outer surface and possible deterioration of the blanket material.
With the typical blanket thickness of one inch, the question arises as to what to do with applications that require removable insulation, but have low clearances around all or part of the components to be covered?
“Insulating areas with low clearances can be an issue, but it often depends on the particulars of an application and what the client is

wishing to achieve”, said Brett Herman, Firwin’s VP of Sales & Engineering. “For instance, sometimes just thinning out the insulation in areas of low clearance will still give the client sufficient insulation performance for the needs of his particular application. If, on the other hand, we are dealing with a relatively high temperature application, and the client has a particular temperature reduction goal that he wishes to achieve – this could be for personnel protection, or to ensure that nearby heat sensitive components are shielded from overheating – Whatever the reason, a lack of clearance means we are limited in the thickness of insulation that we can apply, which in turn can limit the amount of heat reduction that results”.

Solutions for Low Clearance Issues

So what solutions are available for situations where clearances restrictions would seem to limit the use of insulation blankets? “In situations where the client needs to achieve a certain temperature reduction, and there is insufficient room for the thickness that would be needed with standard fiberglass insulation, we have other solutions that we can offer to help the client achieve his goals”, said Brett.
“The first possibility we would look at is upgrading to a higher temperature insulation, such as MW1800 or FW2000+. These insulations have a higher temperature rating than our standard fiberglass FW1200, and sometimes when all that is needed is a small increase in insulation performance at a given thickness, these insulations will do the trick, with the price premium being relatively small “, notes Brett.
“If however, these do not suffice, the next step is to look at a high performance insulation such as Aerogel. It does carry a price premium, but it is one of the most effective insulators on the market, and will allow a client to achieve larger temperature reductions with a thin layer of insulation”.

High Performance Insulators

Insulation blankets are made up of 3 parts: The outer cover, also known as the `cold face`, the middle layer of insulation material, and the inner cover, or `hot face`. For most applications, the `standard` insulation blanket makeup of a silicone outer cover, 1 inch thick fiberglass, and a mesh inner liner, works fine. But certain applications demand alternative materials, be it because of very high temperatures, the environment where the insulation blankets will be operating, or in the case here, because of a combination of space constraints and desired insulation performance.

“Space constraints alone do not necessarily demand the use of an alternative insulator such as Aerogel”, said Brett. “It is possible that the customer`s needs can be met with a thin layer of fiberglass or superwool. An insulator like Aerogel is brought into the picture when the project needs insulation performance that typically could only be achieved with thicker insulation than the space allows.”

The chart below gives an indication of what kind of insulation effectiveness can be achieved even with a very thin layer of Aerogel insulation, compared to other insulations at standard 1″ thickness. As can be seen, even a thin 10 mm (approximately .4 inches) layer of Aerogel gives an insulation effectiveness near that of a 1″ thick fiberglass blanket.

Can removable insulation blankets keep pipe contents from freezing ?

Removable insulation blankets are great at managing heat. Be it by lowering the ambient heat in an engine room, protecting workers from hot surfaces, or shielding pipe contents from cold external temperatures, removable insulation covers are often the solution of choice where heat must be managed, but permanent insulation is not feasible.

Gate Valve with Glycol Tracing,,
wrapped with Removable Insulation Blanket

But there is one thing that removable insulation blankets cannot do – they cannot add heat. “We often get asked, particularly in cold weather applications, if our blankets can keep pipe contents or components from freezing”, said Brett Herman, Firwin`s VP of Sales & Engineering. “The answer is that while we can contain heat and delay heat loss by sheltering pipe components from cold external temperatures, our insulation blankets can`t add any heat that isn`t already there.”

Where insulation blankets can help, however, is where companies have some sort of heat tracing on their piping, and they want to minimize the amount of heat lost to the environment, and thus maximize the efficiency of their heat tracing.

Heat Tracing Challenges

“Companies, particularly in the oil and gas industry, and often in other industries such as mining, chemical, and food processing, use heat tracing to keep pipe or container contents from freezing. In cold temperatures, this heat tracing, if left un-insulated, becomes much less effective. Firwin has done a number of applications in this area, covering the component and the heat tracing, increasing efficiency and lowering the heat that escapes to the environment”, added Brett.

Like other removable insulation blanket applications, a properly designed blanket is key to ensuring that the heat tracing is properly insulated. “There are various type of heat tracing in the marketplace today – steam, glycol, hot oil, and electric”, said Rael Herman, Firwin’s VP of Production & New Product Development.

“In some instances, the entire component in covered by a ‘bolt-on heat jacket, changing the entire geometry of the part”. What they all have in common is the need to be wrapped tightly, so as to minimize the amount of heat that is lost to the environment. The challenge, when it comes to insulation blankets, is to design a blanket that will account for the sometime difficult geometries and penetration access points that often come hand in hand with heat tracing”, said Rael.

Firwin Blanket custom designed to fit glycol penetrations

Other Solutions

What about situations where the customer is not familiar with heat tracing, or where heat tracing is not a viable option ? “We have done applications where we have incorporated a heat source into the insulation cover (see previous article on “pizza blankets“)”, notes Brett. “Regardless of who supplies the heat tracing, what’s important is ensuring that the the insulation blankets are designed in such a way as to tightly cover the components in question, while allowing for penetration points that typically accompany tracing of valves and similar components”.

For more information on removable insulation blankets and heat tracing, please contact Firwin.

Firwin FireBlanket 2000 Can Take the Heat: It’s Proven to Withstand Temperatures as High as 2000-Degrees-Fahrenheit!

In our last blog post, we reviewed how the Firwin FireBlanket 2000 protects industrial safety valves and actuators.
We explained how a removable insulation blanket designed to protect safety valves is different from the standard insulation blankets you’ll find in industrial settings. In this blog post, we’ll talk more about the design of this type of fire blanket and explain how strong and durable it is (and why it needs to be this way!).

The Firwin FireBlanket 2000 is designed to keep the heat and fire away from the part. Typically, removable insulation blankets are composed of three layers:

1. the inner surface
2. the insulation material that rests on the inner surface
3. the outer protective cover.

In most cases, the removable insulation blanket’s inner surface is the “hot face” that comes in direct contact with the hot component. However, the Firwin FireBlanket 2000’s outer protective cover is the “hot face” and it needs to withstand extremely high temperatures. The FireBlanket is working “in reverse,” in layman’s terms: The outer surface and insulation are protecting the part from the heat, and the outer protective cover needs to withstand the very high heat of a fire.

There are also other variables that come into play in a fire safety situation at an industrial plant, and time is a critical factor. The valve or actuator being protected by the FireBlanket will need to function and operate properly to allow enough time for the operator to shut down a line. In situations like this, a FireBlanket’s outer cover may deteriorate too quickly if it’s not manufactured to meet certain fire standards. It’s also important to install the FireBlanket so that the component is properly protected – an improperly installed FireBlanket could impede the blanket’s ability to protect the component in case of fire.

The Firwin FireBlanket 2000 easily passed the UL rapid rise fire standard test (UL1709) where it was placed in a special compartment and blasted with 2000-degrees-Fahrenheit temperatures for 30 minutes. The fire blanket – including its outer protective – remained fully intact throughout the test, with no signs of deterioration at all. This proves that the Firwin FireBlanket 2000 can definitely take the heat!

A Fire Blanket Designed to Protect Industrial Safety Valves is Definitely Worth the Investment

You’ve probably heard about fire blankets that are designed to protect people in their homes or in their workplaces. These types of fire blankets are commonly used to extinguish and smother fires or as portable safety devices to wrap around people as they run for safety. But, have you heard about fire blankets that are designed to protect industrial safety valves and equipment?

Fire blankets designed to protect industrial safety valves are a type of insulation blanket, but they differ from standard insulation blankets used in industrial settings. Standard blankets are meant to insulate a part to maintain a high level of heat inside the part, or to keep heat away from the outside environment. For instance, in many industries, machine and equipment parts must be kept at the right temperature for the part to function properly; conversely, heat must be contained and kept away from the surrounding area, be it for personnel protection or protecting nearby heat sensitive components. However, fire blankets designed to go over a part – typically a safety-related part, such as a gate valve or an actuator – are designed to keep the heat and fire away from the part. These types of fire blankets are needed in many industries, including the oil and gas industry.

A fire blanket that protects a valve, an actuator or another part from fire and heat is a critical industrial safety tool. Gate valves and actuators function as safety mechanisms in industrial settings. In the event of any type of fire, including chemical fires, these actuators perform a safety shutdown to reduce fire spread and prevent or minimize disaster. The fire blanket is designed to go over a valve or part to protect its covering long enough for safety procedures to function properly. Designed to withstand a fire for up to 30 minutes, this allows enough time for an operator to actuate the safety function on a line and to perform a shutdown to keep the fire under control and to minimize potential damage.

The fire blanket we offer at Firwin works to protect industrial valves and actuators so that they can do their job in a critical safety situation, and they’re proven to work: Our fire blanket for industrial safety valves and parts was tested in a UL rapid rise fire standard test (UL1709) where it was placed in a special compartment and blasted with 2000-degrees-Fahrenheit temperatures for 30 minutes. The fire blanket remained intact throughout the test.

A fire blanket designed to protect industrial safety valves and equipment is definitely worth the investment! To learn more about the fire blanket, read the article Firwin FireBlanket 2000 in our e-newsletter.

Standard vs. “Donut” Flange Covers: The Differences and the Advantages

You may be aware that it’s important to have a covering for flanges—and it’s especially important that this covering be high quality and durable.
But did you know that there’s more than one kind of flange cover? In fact, we at Firwin offer two basic flange cover options: our standard cover, and our “donut” cover. Both are made of the highest quality materials and are reliable and effective, but they differ in several ways.
Let’s examine both, and what makes each unique and beneficial.
Standard Flange Covers
Our standard flange covers are one-piece insulation blankets that cover the flange, wrapping around it and closing through the use of draw strings—which compress the blanket at the edges, pulling it tightly around the flange.
This design allows for flexibility, so that the blanket will cover the flange even if the actual dimensions differ slightly from the assumed ones. This also means that in the case of an adjacent existing flange that restricts the amount of exposed pipe around which the cover is being placed, installation is still possible.
While flexibility and quality are always assured, one disadvantage is that installation can be a bit tricky for someone who isn’t familiar with insulation blanket installation, and can lead to an uneven appearance.
“Donut” Flange Covers
Alternatively, our donut flange covers consist of three parts—the main body cover and two end pieces—and this design allows for easier installation than our standard cover, and a smoother look. For these reasons, the donut flange covers are preferable in certain circumstances, particularly when the aesthetics are especially important and the user prefers a more customized appearance.
However, because of the extra material and design engineering, donut flange covers are more expensive than standard ones. Those who choose these covers are paying a premium for easier installation and a more seamless, smoother look.
Either way, whichever cover you choose, you can rest assured that the design and material quality will never be compromised. Like all of our products, both styles of flange covers are the best of their kind, and deliver exceptional quality every time.
Of course, if you have any questions or would like to know more about which is best for your needs, please don’t hesitate to contact us anytime.

Stopping Noise Pollution with Firwin

Often times when we think of noise pollution, a loud car stereo or perhaps a dog barking might come to mind. However, in the industrial world, noise or sound is not just a nuisance, it can actually be dangerous.

According to the NIDCD, noise-related deafness is a 100% preventable disorder. Using earplugs certainly helps, but the best way to avoid damage is to remove the sound from the environment. At Firwin, we understand how critical sound absorption and attenuation is in industrial settings, especially when it comes to diesel-powered equipment.

We bring up diesel-powered equipment because it can be found in a wide variety of industries. These machines can be extremely loud, especially when used in enclosed spaces. OSHA states that 85dBs is a tolerable noise level; the average diesel engine room can reach a deafening 120dBs, which is the same as a fireworks display. This level of noise pollution is dangerous for workers and the public.

The best way to combat noise pollution is to use panels, curtains, absorbers, and blankets. The experts at Firwin will often combine sound absorption technologies with our insulation. Firwin also has a selection of sound attenuation products like our AcoustiGuard™ Quilted Barrier/Absorber Curtain Panels and AcoustiGuard™ Pipe/Duct Lagging, among others. All of these sound attenuation products can help reduce levels of noise pollution in almost any situation, thus keeping you and your workforce safer.

While there are many factors to consider when choosing proper sound attenuation, including the thickness of the material, space around the equipment, and proper paneling, we understand the importance of limiting noise pollution and have the products to fit your specific application.

Increasing Engine Efficiency with Insulation Blankets

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!