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Porosity sealing, also known as vacuum impregnating, metal impregnating, polymer impregnating, and porous metal sealing, is the process of filling a porous substrate to make it airtight. Vacuum impregnation seal leak/migration paths, without impacting the functional, assembly, or appearance characteristics of the part. Vacuum impregnation is governed by Military Standard MIL-STD-276A as well as numerous proprietary and customer specifications. [1]



In the course of sealing castings against porosity, the parts would be processed through the following four stations:

  1. Impregnation Chamber: The operator would seal the chamber and draw a vacuum. This would remove air in the porosity and leak path in the casting wall. Parts would then be covered with sealant, and positive pressure applied. More energy would be required to penetrate the porosity with sealant than to evacuate the air. The operator would then release the pressure and drain the chamber.
  2. Excess Sealant Recovery: The operator would remove excess sealant through gravity, rotation or centrifugal force.
  3. Wash/Rinse Station: The operator would wash residual sealant from the part's internal passages, taps, pockets and features.
  4. Cure Station: The operator would polymerize the impregnated sealant in the leak path.[2]

Common applicationsEdit

Die castings and permanent mold castings commonly contain internal porosity. This porosity is generally localized to the deepest cross-sections of the part and does not extend to the outer skin. However, if the part is also machined, the internal porosity will be exposed and the part will leak if pressurized. Machined die castings that need to hold fluids (intake manifolds, coolant connectors, transmission cases, pump housings and fluid power components) are routinely sealed for life using acrylic resins. Because the sealant is internal to the part, the exterior dimensions and appearance of the part are unchanged.[3]

Powder metallurgyEdit

Powder metallurgy (PM) components are sealed prior to plating and to reduce internal corrosion. Plating operations typically involve submerging the parts in acid solutions. After plating, residual acid internal to the part can promote corrosion and/or preclude an acceptable plating finish. The solution to this problem is to seal the internal voids prior to plating. As explained above, the porosity is saturated with monomer and is then rinsed completely clear of the surface. The resin cures to a durable polymer. Thus, the exposed surface metal is free to be plated while the interior spaces are sealed dry.

The porosity in powder metal parts becomes a liability when the part must resist a differential pressure. PM applications for compressed air, fuel handling or hydraulic housings are common and effective; however, they must be sealed first. The polymer does not add structural strength to the physical part, but it will hold high pressures without creeping. If the wall thickness of the part exceeds 1/4 inch, the leak pressure is typically on the same order of magnitude as the burst pressure of the part.

Powder metal is also impregnated to enhance machinability. PM parts are generally difficult to machine and some compositions may not be machinable without ruining the cutting tool. Porosity sealing improves the life of cutting tools by ten to one-hundred times. Resin impregnation is more effective than compacting additives and can be selectively applied for near net pressed parts.[4][citation needed]


  1. ^ Shantz, Tom. "Basics of Vacuum Impregnation" (PDF). Retrieved 1 November 2012.  External link in |website= (help)
  2. ^ Marin, Andy. "Continuing Advances in Vacuum Impregnation Systems" (PDF). Foundry Management & Technology. Retrieved 16 March 2018.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  3. ^ "What is porosity? | Knowledge Hub | Ultraseal International". International. 2017-08-10. Retrieved 2018-02-26. 
  4. ^ "Sinterseal Powder Metal Sealant | Ultraseal International". International. Retrieved 2018-02-26.