History of Ultraseal

Peter Young's involvement

The Heritage of Peter Young's Involvement in Casting Impregnation and the Heritage of Ultraseal

An account of the technical and historical contribution made by Peter Young original founder of Ultraseal Ltd, Ultraseal Midlands Ltd, Ultraseal International (Guernsey) Ltd, Ultraseal International (UK) Ltd, Ultraseal Research Ltd, MX Systems Ltd and currently X-Seal Ltd.

1967 Ultraseal Ltd created by Peter Young

Peter Young formally Registered the Company as Ultraseal Ltd having previously worked in the impregnation of metal castings industry for his father's business, Industrial Impregnations Ltd, for many years (see the History page for more information).

The new Company started life in a small unit based in Taplow Berkshire and the first machine was self-built by the founder and Jim Fraser, an engineer who also previously worked at Industrial Impregnations.

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The equipment was set up for use with polyester/styrene based sealant, hot detergent wash and either hot oil or oven curing. Many customers who had previously known the founder at Industrial Impregnations switched to Ultraseal Ltd for the higher level of technical quality of workmanship and service provided.

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Significant growth was experienced and within a few years the Company relocated to a larger industrial unit based at Yeovil Road on Slough Trading Estate.

1972 Growth of Ultraseal Ltd – larger premises

The move to the larger unit at Yeovil Road allowed a greater level of investment within the business.

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This resulted in:

  • A larger impregnation system to be built incorporating an overhead basket transfer system and automated module controls for each station.
  • A larger oven was installed for both dehydration and curing applications.
  • Self-designed pressure testing equipment was installed allowing the extension of this service before and after impregnation.
  • In addition to offering customers a sub contract service the company commenced selling self designed equipment and process chemicals to large users of the process to provide savings against transport and offsite costs.
  • To assist with the above expansion of the business, larger offices, stores and most importantly a quality control laboratory were set up to provide the in-house and customer process plants with technical support.
  • A chemist was also employed to oversee the laboratory operations and continuous technical and quality control support.

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1976 Ultraseal International (Guernsey) Ltd registered

For personal reasons the founder and his family moved to Guernsey in the Channel Islands employing a management team to continue with the day to day running of the Slough based operation.

At this time the founder set up and registered Ultraseal International Ltd in Guernsey for the purposes of continued Research and Development of casting impregnation technology.

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At the same time, due to a continuation in the business growth, a second unit was secured in Buckingham Avenue on the Slough Trading Estate to increase office accommodation for the growing management team as well as providing additional storage space for the growing volume of castings being delivered and collected for processing, as well production space for increased production of chemicals supplied to customers.

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It was about this time that Loctite, a major international competitor, introduced the anaerobic methacrylate impregnation system as an alternative to the polyester sealant systems offering significantly shorter processing times and costs.

1977 Peter Young develops and patents first thermocuring methacrylate for sealing porosity in metal casting
ULTRASEAL PC504 Trade Mark is registered

Viewing Loctite's development as a commercial threat, Peter Young embarked on a research program to find an alternative methacrylate based system, and developed and through Ultraseal International (Guernsey) Ltd, patented a thermo-cure system with the registered trademark Ultraseal PC504.

First thermocuring methacrylate for sealing porosity in metal casting
First thermocuring methacrylate for
sealing porosity in metal casting
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The process greatly simplified the process equipment required, so a prototype system was designed in Guernsey and installed in the Buckingham Avenue unit for production trials.

After a short period of time it demonstrated a far superior method of impregnating castings successfully and was introduced to customers who validated and approved the new process for use on their castings. This lead to major international OEM approvals.

Over the next few years the PC504 process dispatched the polyester system into the Ultraseal history books. UIL (G) Ltd invested in larger industrial facilities on the island of Guernsey for the production of the PC 504 sealant and process ancillary chemicals.

Under the group founder Peter Young (an engineer by profession) a new engineering design office was established to continue the development of the process equipment.

Due to the continued growth of the business in the UK with international OEM customers, the Ultraseal PC 504 process quickly established an international reputation leading to enquiries for product availability in the major industrial production countries.

In order to deal with this interest and expansion, Peter Young employed a well respected Sales Director to concentrate on these growth opportunities, whilst himself concentrating on the continued technical development of the products and technology.

Many customers employing the older polyester, silicate, phenolic and anaerobic systems changed to the patented Ultraseal PC 504 system due to its simplicity, stability and quicker process times. This made the Ultraseal Group a multi-million turnover operation.

New distributors were engaged to promote and sell the process to their own specific territories.

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PC504 UK Patent: 05/790912 04-03-1979

1980 Peter Young develops and patents STS (Sealant Transfer System) and VTS (Vertical Sealant Transfer) System

As a result of the continued investment under the direct supervision of Peter Young, new equipment designs emerged from the design office.

A further investment was made at the Group headquarters in Guernsey with the establishment of an engineering workshop to produce design into working units for review and improvement.

One such design was the introduction of the Dry Impregnation System. Dry impregnation means the castings are subjected to the vacuum before the introduction of the sealant.

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Whilst this method was used for the polyester systems, the vacuum was then turned off so the residual vacuum would suck the thick sealant into the vacuum vessel and cover the casting before applying pressure. This method of turning off the vacuum allowed dramatic reduction of the vacuum before all parts were covered by the sealant and was inefficient.

The new Ultraseal Dry Vacuum (otherwise known as Sealant Transfer System or STS for short) for method designed and developed by Peter Young, provided two vacuum vessels, one for the sealant and one for the castings.

The castings would be placed into the vacuum vessel whilst the sealant is held in the vacuum storage vessel. A high vacuum of < 10m-bars would be applied to both vessels simultaneously to vent the air from the castings and the sealant, known as 'degassing', after a short time the valve between the vessel would be opened and a small regulated follow of air allowed into the storage vessel to allow a small differential pressure difference between the vessels so the sealant would be transferred to the castings 'under vacuum'.

Once impregnated, the vessel containing the castings would be open to atmosphere allowing the sealant to be vacuum transferred back to the storage vessel.

This process resulted from much time spent in the laboratory under the supervision of Peter Young. Laboratory tests using thermo Gel testing and impregnated test rings showed that 'degassed' sealant performed much better than sealant that had been left open to the atmosphere or had been aerated within a process.

As a result of these findings, a patent was granted to Peter Young and UIL (G) Ltd in 1980.

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Vertical Transfer System US Patent 4620991 -04-11-1986

1983 Peter Young develops and Patents new In-Line Impregnation System

As a continued quested for further simplification of design and innovation, Peter Young created a Vertical Transfer System that provided a Dry and Wet Vacuum process in a single chamber called the Ultraseal Vertical Transfer System (VTS).

In-line impregnation system
‘In Line’ Impregnation System
Austin & Rover Longbridge
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The design was a cylinder mounted in the front (operator) side of an extended in height vacuum vessel. Inside the cylinder was a piston a claw arrangement at the top to allow a sprung loaded pin to hold the piston in the upper position and claw to locate the basket pin when loaded and suspended above the sealant in the lower section of the vessel.

A vacuum of < 10 m-bar was applied with the basket in the upper position so both castings and sealant were 'degassed' of air. After a preset time the operator or a pneumatic cylinder released the piston and basket to descend into the sealant. Once the basket was submerged in the sealant the vacuum was released allowing the allowing atmospheric pressure to help the sealant penetrate the porosity in the components.

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This system offered a substantial cost reduction and simplification to the Sealant Transfer System introduced and Patented in 1980. The Introduction of the VTS design allowed further development of equipment.

Sales feedback had noted that the market was requesting in-line production equipment to reduce the need for casting to be removed from the production line for processing and returned after testing.

Based on this information, Peter Young embarked on the development of the first fully automatic in-line machine.

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This new design incorporated an in-house basket lifting device transferring the basket of parts from the front conveyor through 180° onto the loading station. Inside was a 6 module transfer beam that transferred the basket to the next station.

The first station was the vacuum impregnation module incorporating the VTS design; the next was a rotational indexing drain, then a rotation cascade washing followed by two hot air cure stations and the unload station reversing the auto unload device.

This system incorporated many in-house design features and was one of the first systems to feature rotation drain, washing and hot air curing working on a 5 minute cycle time in one compact framework for ease of shipping and installation.

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Having been designed and built under the direct supervision of Peter Young, it was then installed in the Ultraseal Slough sub-contract facility for extensive testing in a multi-use environment and technical appraisals were sent back to UIL (G) Ltd for incorporation into the next machines.

Two more machines were build, one for Ford Motor Company in Australia and one for Rover in Longbridge, UK.

As before, Peter Young saw the opportunity to push the boundaries for the impregnation technology by utlising his years of experience and knowledge with sealant, process and equipment design to create the 5 minute cycle. This was proved in the laboratory test facilities before being applied to process equipment and then the market place.

Inline impregnation machine: US Patent US4384014

1985 Peter Young Develops and Patents new high speed Shuttle impregnation System

Following the success of the In-Line system, market feedback requested a true in-line machine that located directly into the production line to process 100% of the production throughput after completion of the machining operation. The customer was manufacturing power steering units for the automotive industry. The throughput was fast!

A completely new system was designed and developed. Firstly the throughput was calculated taking into account any customer internal handling requirements. This required a process of less than three minutes cycle time.

It also had to be incorporated into the current conveyor lines that meant a loading height close to a metre.

The Shuttle Casting Impregnation Machine
The Shuttle – Designed for TRW steering castings
British Engineers Design Award: 1987
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The resulting designed was a radical shift from any previous design before it.

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The system was based on a modular concept, it was similar to clam shells with the process chamber mounted horizontally and split down the horizontal Centre line.

The top half of the clam (the lid) swinging up and down to meet the lower section. The lower section of the clam held the solution and a rotating cage. The cage contained a slot to allow the automated transfer beam to move the basket of parts from module to module.

The parts were loaded from the machining cells into the process baskets taken by conveyor to the loading station. The system specification was; Pre-wash, vacuum dry, vacuum impregnation, wash and dry. Within the Pre-water wash module, the parts rotated under a cascade of heated water with a cleaning solution by a high volume pump.

A quick spin off was performed at the end of the cycle to reduce carry over to the static vacuum dry module. In the static vacuum dry module the warm parts were subject to a fast high vacuum to dry and cool at the same time before being transferred into the impregnation module. The lid closed, the vacuum started, and the basket was rotated within cage above the sealant.

After a very quick vacuum produced by a very large pump, the rotating basket was lowered into the sealant and the vacuum released. A quick soak in the sealant and the basket of parts was raised for a quick spin to remove surface sealant before docking for the transfer to the next module.

This concept was uniquely able to rotate the parts under dry vacuum to eliminate any risk of entrapping air before entry into the degassed sealant below. The impregnation module then doubled up as a sealant drain, allowing two parts of a traditional process to be incorporated into a single module.

This provided better conditioning of the sealant as it removed the need for a separate drain module (where the sealant would have been collected at atmospheric pressure and temperature before being sucked back to the conditioned process sealant).

Containing the sealant in one module not only reduced equipment cost but also sealant control management and risk of moving the sealant between modules and preliminary curing in valves and pipes etc. Under three minute cycle times would have made it extremely difficult to transfer the sealant between modules in time.

Following Impregnation, the parts were transferred to the cold water wash module. This was the same as the impregnation module except the parts rotated under a cascade of water pumped and filtered from the bottom section of the clam module. Again a quick spin off was performed at the end of the cycle to reduce carry over to the hot cure modules.

Following washing, the parts were transferred to the first of two hot cure modules. These were the same design and process as the impregnation module but contained hot water at > 95°.

The reason for two cure modules was because the system was operating on a two and a half minute cycle time and a minimum of five minutes was considered necessary.

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Due to the advanced design and radical concept incorporating a great deal in the development of fast curing stable sealant technology, the system resulted in an British Design Council Engineering Award in 1987 to Peter Young and Ultraseal International Ltd.

Shuttle US Patent 4722295 02-02-1988

1987 Peter Young develops and Patents the world's first recycling impregnation sealant. Ultraseal MX

Recognising the future interest in preserving the environment, and acknowledging that most of the sealant consumed within the process went down the drain emulsified in the wash water, Peter Young set about to develop a new sealant that could be recycled from the wash water.

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The initial development of PC504 was to produce a sealant that readily emulsified in the wash solution to clean the surface of the parts before the hot cure process.

If the sealant was not properly removed it would solidify onto the surface causing unwanted contamination and costly rework to remove. Therefore the development had to find base raw materials that were naturally insoluble in water whilst also enhancing the sealing and cured properties of the finished product.

Peter Young developed a new monomer in the laboratory of Ultraseal International (Guernsey) Ltd. Extensive testing showed the benefits of this new monomer within the established formulation. It reduced the Specific Gravity, the viscosity, the surface tension all leading to better natural penetration abilities in the liquid state, whilst also a soft flexible material in the solid state.

When testing the new formulation in sintered test rings it demonstrated superior sealing results from a single impregnation cycle as well as meeting the same technical properties of methacrylate based sealants approved to the US Mil Std testing performance criteria. Being of a lower Specific Gravity and generally insoluble, it floated to the surface of water.

After continued extensive laboratory testing a field test was set up using an impregnation system at Ultraseal Midlands facility in Birmingham UK. The newly named MX sealant was added to the vacuum vessel, a Sealant Recovery System (SRS) was added to the wash water tank to skim off the surface water. Chemical additives were also added to the wash water to aid washing and sealant separation. Production tests confirmed the laboratory results.

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Following ongoing development and fine tuning, the system was patented and marketed as Ultraseal MX.

Recycle Sealant WO/1988/004675

1988 Peter Young Consolidates the Group design and manufacturing facilities to Birmingham, UK

Peter Young recognized that development of new ideas and ongoing technology needed to be close to the market and production locations. Whilst the group headquarters for the development, design and manufacture of equipment and chemicals were based in Guernsey, it was decided for the benefit of the future that these activities should be closer to the marketplace that it operated in.

The group also had subcontract services located in Slough and Birmingham and an International Sales and Marketing office operating from the Slough facility.

Therefore a subsidiary company Ultraseal International (UK) Ltd was registered with the UK authorities operating under a license with the UIL (Guernsey) Company. A new site was located near to Ultraseal Midlands in Coleshill, Birmingham and a new purpose built facility was opened in late 1988.

This new facility incorporated a new sub contract based on the latest recycling technology and equipment, secure chemical manufacturing and quality control laboratory, engineering design and manufacture, UK and International sales and Marketing and operational finance.

Bringing all the key elements together allowed much greater communication and teamwork for continued growth and expansion well into the future.

1988 Peter Young develops and Patents the world's first recycling impregnation sealant: Ultraseal MX

The development of the In-Line and Shuttle brought some advanced technical features to the impregnation of castings, but they were machines built for specific applications.

Most components being impregnated were of a variety of sizes, shapes and volumes. Peter Young therefore commenced the design to incorporate the technical features were possible into a new range of equipment and the modular MX Systems was established.

The brief was a system designed to accommodate Euro size containers as these were becoming more commonly used through customer production facilities and would significantly reduce the need for additional handling if parts were delivered for processing in these pre-packed containers.

This new design utilized the VTS impregnation vessel, a rotational basket drain, cold water wash and hot cure module system was created.

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Three standard sizes were produced. Each system was also designed to accept either the traditional Ultraseal PC504 or the latest Ultraseal MX sealant technology, with the sealant recycle system connected to the wash module for sealant recovery and returned back to the drain station for transfer to the vacuum vessel. The rotation mechanism that allowed the basket of parts to be loaded from above and then retained for the rotation cycle was patented.

This system proved to be very successful as it could be adapted to suit manual or automatic loading, fast cycle times with two cure modules supplied, recycling or standard sealants used all in a compact and high performance design.

The benefit of rotation wash and curing was totally clean parts produced each cycle. Each module had its own separate control so once the basket was loaded, the start button pushed the cycle was completed automated until finished. The level of sealant recovered varied from application to application but was generally considered to be between 70% and 90% compared to non-recycle systems.

The MX system also benefited from less water consumption as emulsified wash solution was not overflowed to drain to keep sealant dilution levels low.

Being a modular design, the MX system allowed additional modules to be used for pre-washing complete with oil separation, vacuum drying prior to impregnation and surface conversion applications to be added post impregnation all within the process same line.

Peter Young also developed specific process chemicals for pre-washing and hot cure metal inhibitors that were tested in the UIL laboratory to be compatible with the impregnation sealants.

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Top Load Rotational patent

1990 Peter Young develops and Patents the Cascade front load washing system

Having developed a Top Loading modular system that pre-washed, impregnated and could offer surface conversion, Peter Young saw a new market for stand-alone process equipment incorporating these above based process technology.

The downside was most equipment produced for impregnation process was Top Load so required space for an overhead gantry and hoist. The next step was to design and build a system capable of front loading with a small loading conveyor placed in front. The brief was to produce such a design for cellular production layout in favour of manufacturing industry at the time. The Front Load system called the Cascade was produced.

First front loading impregnation system
First front load impregnation system
Ford Motor Company, Belfast
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The design utilized the same principles as the MX Top Load system. The MX system is was a module with the solution holding tank underneath a processing chamber with a suspender rotation mechanism for the basket of parts and a pneumatic lid for containment. The module is fitted with solution heaters, a high volume pump and in-line filter.

The Front Load was a single module with a front door that raised and lowered and clamped against a seal. On top of the process module was a powerful extractor that would provide a small negative pressure (light vacuum) to assist with drying the parts and evacuating the chamber before the completion of the cycle.

A control panel was incorporated to one side with operator controls easily accessible. The Cascade was also fitted with inlet and outlets for ancillary equipment such as oil separators etc.

The system proved very successful and a separate marketing facility was set up to sell and support this new product line.

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Due to the compact design and ease of handling the Front Load system was further developed into a full Front Load Impregnation system with either manual or fully automatic loading systems available.

Front Load Impregnation: UK Patent: 06/162645
Front load impregnation US Patent 4311735

1992 Peter Young Retires

PDY commenced retirement early 1990 by putting a management team in place.

1992 UAI founded

As a result of the company's continuous organic growth into the international markets through its advance process technology, it was necessary to set up a network of international subsidiary companies with well trained local nationals as representatives to promote and support the new products being supplied.

1998 Receivership

The company was forced into receivership as a result of poor management. Although PDY made an attempt to buy back the company from the receivers, its assets were finally claimed by Norman Hay PLC under control of its subsidiary, Surface Technologies Ltd. Ultraseal International Ltd was finally dissolved in 1999.