The Value of Hands-on Experience With Steve Barton

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Steve Barton is the Filtration Market Director at Darcoid, where he has worked for over seventeen years. He also supports Darcoid’s sister company, CrestTec, in the role of Sales Engineer.  He has thirty years of experience in the manufacturing and process engineering industry and is an expert in product development, evaluation, compliance resolution, problem-solving, and more. Prior to his time with Darcoid, Steve was the President of SB Industries, the Director of Engineering and Technical Sales for A & D Rubber, the Foam Process Engineer for Johnson Controls, and a Project Engineer for Hercules Aerospace.



Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Steve Barton details his career in rubber manufacturing 
  • An in-depth look at the process of compression molding
  • Steve talks about the appeal and challenge of working with urethane and plastics
  • Why Steve became a consultant in the supply chain industry
  • How failure can lead to great success
  • What to do when questions arise about the product design
  • Steve shares some common misconceptions about the engineering industry
  • Steve’s recommendation for young engineers: be prepared

In this episode…

How can an engineer understand the application of a product during a seal design project? When the questions seem to be piling up, where can designers turn for answers about the product design?

Steve Barton brings his consultative expertise to product engineering to prepare fledgling seal designers for rubber’s often surprising dynamic performance characteristics. With a wealth of experience in many aspects of seal design, Steve takes a hands-on approach with the goal that anyone — novice or expert — can release seals for production which meet the specific performance characteristics required of their project. 

In this episode of Makers of Our Future, Bill Sharratt sits down with Steve Barton, Marketing Director and CrestTec Sales Engineer at Darcoid, to discuss the expertise needed to create a successful seal component. Steve talks about the details of compression molding, working with different elements and materials, and learning from the challenges of creating superior products.


Resources mentioned in this episode:


Sponsor for this episode:

This show is brought to you by Darcoid

The seal industry is changing and not always for the better. It's consolidating, knowledge is retiring out faster than it's being replaced, and design engineers specifying seals can struggle to get the support they need.

Darcoid is doing something about that.  

We're building this podcast as a searchable store of wisdom, so you, our audience, can continue to stand on the shoulders of giants.    

Learn more at

Episode Transcript:

Intro  0:03  
Behind every great product is a great seal. Join us at the crossroads of preeminence, product design, engineering, seal mastery, and supply chain excellence, and to learn from the makers of our future.

Bill Sharratt  0:24  
Hey, welcome, again to Makers of Our Future conversations with the people behind the products that are changing the world and for people in the seal industry. We're making that success possible. I'm very excited today to introduce you to Steve Barton. Let me introduce myself first. I'm Bill Sharratt, Vice President of Business Development Development at Darcoid. And I am your co host for today. Darcoid put this podcast together just to create a searchable store of wisdom for people who are getting to grips with sales for the first time. Steve Barton, my guest has been in the steel industry for more years than he will probably care dimension. He, over his career has developed considerable experience in engineered materials, before moving into rubber into the world of elastomers. So I can say a lot about Steve, but I think we'll get to know more about him as the conversation develops. So Steve, welcome to Makers of Our Future.

Steve Barton  1:30  
Thank you. Thank you.

Bill Sharratt  1:32  
Thank you. I'm glad to have you with us. You're you've been in business development at Darcoid. For a long time, certainly preceded my arrival at the company. You've like I said, developed considerable experience in this field. What got you into the wonderful world of rubber? I like asking this question to people because there's there's a wide variety of pathways into this career. So how do you find yourself? Hey, Steve.

Steve Barton  2:00  
Well, I originally started out in aerospace. And towards the end of my aerospace career, I was working with a project that was rubber for the Titan for missile. As as that industry kind of does,

Bill Sharratt  2:16  
okay, all right. I like talking to a rocket engineer here. What's What's the deal when you typing an aerospace? What? How involved were you with that?

Steve Barton  2:25  
I was, I was a design engineer for the Titan missile for the the ordinance and the hardware up on the top

Bill Sharratt  2:38  
the stuff that goes bang at the sharp end

Steve Barton  2:40  
of the brain, okay? Excellent. The Raceway, which is what carries the cables from top to bottom and controls the bottom, which is the outskirt. I was involved with that a little bit and got involved with the rubber so we're putting a rubber coat or if you will, over the outside so that it wouldn't burn up as it was going up into space. When when the aerospace industry kind of took a hit because our Titan missile blew up on a test stand down in Edwards Air Force Base, and they had to start reevaluating how they were going to move forward. And they laid off about a third of their engineers. That points

Bill Sharratt  3:27  
No, I'm sorry, I'm back to the shop and the rocket Steve. It was a titan the one that submarine launched or is it like land launch from silos, I'm trying to place that in the

Steve Barton  3:40  
it is the space shuttle was 12 foot diameter and this Titan is a fork as a 10 foot diameter. Okay, on the on the fluid side, so you have the the rocket boosters on the sides with the main core in the center. And it's a payload. So it was a payload rocket that would take up 25,000 pound envelope of satellites for the Air Force. Fantastic. Wow. So

Bill Sharratt  4:12  
it's interesting, you know, I think you're the third person I've spoken to who just happened to mention that they they design rockets or some component of rockets so people are always so humble about it is interesting. So was that a seal or was that a kind of cover protective? Was that was that your first experience with seal at that point?

Steve Barton  4:33  
It was my first experience with rover was a silicone cover. That was like a three sided square so we go over the top and then we would glue it to the actual side of the rocket. It was just a protective skin so that it wouldn't burn up as Okay. Space. Cool. When when we when we are all given a lifestyle change I contacted the company who was making those parts down in Southern California and asked them if they had any openings because I was kind of intrigued with rubber at that point. And they did. They said we do have one up in Modesto, California. So I took that position and then came down to Modesto to start learning about rubber. Okay? And is that in a manufacturing environment? It's a rubber manufacturing facility that builds variety of rubber most, not many of those were O rings, most of them work or custom seals, okay.

Bill Sharratt  5:37  
Injection molding, compression, transfer,

Steve Barton  5:40  
compression and transfer.

Bill Sharratt  5:43  
All right, Steve, it

Steve Barton  5:46  
is as valuable back then. Okay.

Bill Sharratt  5:51  
Teach us something about molding. What is compression molding.

Steve Barton  5:55  
compression molding basically is where you have the plates on the seal, the tool open up, you might have a senator plate. But then you put what we call a preform, which is raw rubber, and you stick that inside and put it by the cavities, then you compress that. And typically we call it burping that's the old version you open and close it very quickly to let, as the rubber starts to move and get hot, it tends to start to flow and you don't want to trap air. So you burp it. That's that was the old versions way back when. And then as it closes and it heats up to 350 degrees, that's when you begin the cycle of six, seven minutes secures.

Bill Sharratt  6:38  
So the analogy would be like a panini press compressing the sandwich and heating it.

Steve Barton  6:45  
Right, right, you're making a grilled cheese sandwich. There you are, what kind of Panini or a waffle. A transfer is at the top, it's got another plate with a little pot down inside the drop the rubber up in that top pot and it's got a bunch of sprues little holes, that will then take that hub rubber and run it down into different counties. We call those screws. So that starts to heat up and the rubber gets hot starts to go down and drops down inside of all the cavities. The the disadvantage of that I mean, there's a lot of advantages, mostly for low run situations. But the disadvantage is that you have a heavy amount of waste. Because you throw the sprue channel and spirit channeling and everything away every time you run a

Bill Sharratt  7:36  
sideshow, can you get a more complex shape out of a transfer process? Or is it really more of a small run bespoke kind of production,

Steve Barton  7:45  
it's hard to get a real complicated part of that only because with sprues going on, you tend to trap a lot of air and complicated parts. So you need bigger, you need a bigger tool with very tonnage and transfer price transfer parts don't usually run that well. Enlarge tools with a lot of complicated cavities, what we ran that for was when we have what we call nest or family, we have four or five parts that were all the same compound, but they were different sizes and they would nest inside of each other come down, it would just go across. And then you just cut that little flash off the side. And you can make or you can plug this you can plug it so you only make three out of the five or you can make all five or maybe just only want to make one. But that way, it's a little more flexible for small runs on things that you do. So i

Bill Sharratt  8:42  
Careful not to go down a rabbit hole. But if you're moving rubber temperature towards its final cavity destination derisk actually starting to cure and set as it as it moves towards its target. I mean, it sounds like there's a lot of controls that you need to be concerned about.

Steve Barton  9:00  
Well, you have to understand the rover that you're using, how flexible it is, and being able to move we will never do a floor carbon transfer situation because it doesn't move at all. It's very slow moving and you wouldn't be able to get it to go down and run through those sprues as primarily it's best for silicones and nitrile. Maybe not trial even tends to be a little bit of a problem. But yeah, it'll cure up faster yet to kind of understand what you're working with and how far it has to travel. And then and then the temperature that you're going to be carrying out because you only have a small window to get that going. And then then it starts to to cure up at

Bill Sharratt  9:46  
Darcoid we'd like to say we got a real good knowledge of all the steps of the manufacturing process so we know where to look. In case we get a quality issue or, you know, an efficiency issue from tooling That clearly is an area of focus. The so you're in Modesto? Where you operating presses, were you designing tooling? What was your how, how close to close to the rubber were

Steve Barton  10:17  
you get in there as as the engineer or as the salespeople would bring in new projects, the one thing I learned right away is that longtime sales guys don't understand. They just sell, hey, I'm gonna sell it, we're gonna build a tool, hey, look, we did it, they have no idea a lot of times if it's doable. So I would help build the tool. And then I would, when the tool would come into the plant, I would be the engineer who would actually set it up and run trials, and then come up with a final version of how the guy on the floor could run it. So in figure out how to make it work. And once we got it to work, we do our, our instruction sheets, put that all together. And then the goal was that we would run, run the part so that anybody off the street who knew nothing about what we're doing could read that instruction sheet and be able to make it work,

Bill Sharratt  11:10  
repeat manufacturability. And, okay.

Steve Barton  11:13  
And sometimes, sometimes it would take two or three days to get it to where it needed to be before we get it to run. And other times, you're on it twice, and it's good to go. But that's what I did is I ran, I was the development engineer. So I I had to make sure that those parts would work, and it would run on the floor. And then we turn over manufacturing, production.

Bill Sharratt  11:35  
So some of the sales guys coming in with projects like cats bringing in a dead bird in the morning, they'd somewhat suck up to you, because they know you'd be the one to make it happen. And others I guess would be like, Oh, God, I've got got to talk to Steve. Now, he's going to tell me why we can't do this. Right.

Steve Barton  11:52  
Most of them didn't care. No, I sold it not make it work. And that typically was how it worked. But it was interesting, we did a lot of different things. From from Naval in the food industries, and each one of those had very complicated things that required a lot of a lot of trials. I mean, we bloodied our nose a lot on some of these projects or a few projects, it took us almost to two months before we could figure out how to make a run. I think that's

Bill Sharratt  12:25  
an important thing. As a takeaway, it's, you know, you can draw up a shape in solid model or sketch it out. And assume it's a no brainer, but there's a lot of detail and a lot of expertise to create that component with the workmanship that you need, with no air pockets and non fields and voids and access flash. Right. So a lot of expertise behind the curtain. Yeah.

Steve Barton  12:56  
True. And I think that was for me, that was a big, big moment of understanding, it was such a challenge of learning all the different things. At first, I just thought, Oh, it's just Robert since the sale, how complicated is going to be and I'm gonna get bored, I'm sure and want to go do something else. And then I realized almost immediately, if you learn the details, you can go deep. And each one of those little rabbit holes, as you call it, learning all the details. And a lot of times many people overlook that. And then when it comes time to make the part, there's a lot of things that they have not took into account. What's been, we now have to take all that into consideration as we help them build the park. But that was something that I started to learn, I got very interested in the fact that there's so many different types of materials, different families, and they all run differently. And so you learn how to make sure that each one of those works and and now I draw on that experience a lot. In fact, I think that's the thing that has helped me become a good sales engineer is that I I understand the sale I understand the engineering part, the part of that I understand how it works. And I rely on the chemist in our company, Nan who can help me with the chemistry side and then between those two areas. We we can we're very valuable to help solve problems. I

Bill Sharratt  14:24  
had an interesting chat with nonde on this podcast a few weeks back on on risk management and risk mitigation and yes, clearly we scratched the surface of quite a rich area of expertise. That's been in it. I've got something to talk about in a minute but regarding rubber, so what got you out of the factory into the field or did you go into another area of engineered materials? What was The next step for

Steve Barton  15:00  
you stay. Well, after I had been in running rubber for a while, I started to get exposed to all your things and, and molding in your things. You know, skate wheels, those types of things is what I started to get involved with. Then we started skateboard wins. Okay. Yeah, skateboard wheels and, and inline skating. And then Motorola came to us and asked us if we would make these little holders that would cut their chips for their phones. And so we got involved in doing that. And that became very, very complicated for me. And took a lot of time for us to figure all that out. But then I started falling in love with urethanes. While I was still doing foam, rubber, I started to fall in love with your hands. And then

Bill Sharratt  15:55  
was it a chemical addiction? Was it because you stood too close to the raw ingredients? That Steve what was going on?

Steve Barton  16:02  
I think it was just because it was a new challenge. I didn't understand it. And because I had been exposed, I didn't understand it. I felt a need to conquer it. I guess I wanted to understand what's

Bill Sharratt  16:15  
different. What's, what's different with a urethane than

Steve Barton  16:19  
a regular elastomer, isn't it just another elastomer? Well, it is but they run. You know, they're they're very fluid, obviously. So you've got to run them hot.

Bill Sharratt  16:34  
Because this is this cast here. thing is it's like going into a cavity kind of a thing. Yes, yeah.

Steve Barton  16:41  
Okay. And so we got an injection machine for that. And that basically doesn't really inject. But it does have three ports where you have your chemicals all lined up, and it will heat up and suck all those up into the machine mixes them up, and then it pours into the, into our containers or pours in as it goes along. Okay, I never really done that before. And then we started to get into rubber rollers for the paper industry rollers that handle the conveyor belts, which was a different type 50 dromeda. Sure, a, all the way down to where we'd run these elastic knees and other parts of it should be short D. So they were very, very hard. It was just a different, just a different experience with polymers, a different type that I had never done. So I got involved with that. And then the boss came to me and said, I want to put you in charge of that department. And I laughed at the time because I said, I don't even know if I know how to spell your thing. And you're gonna make me a part of that. But I was happy, because then that kind of helps my experience open up a little bit more than just one more area that I didn't understand. And I think that's when the point came along where I thought maybe I need to jump into foam, and then into plastics. And then I'll have a very good, well rounded area of understanding most of those types of applications. I got into being a salesman, because I kept getting calls at two in the morning from the factory, sometimes even nine or 10 times during the night. Working, can you help me fix it? I talked it over the phone with them. And that sometimes I'd have to drive to the factory and help fix the problem. So

Bill Sharratt  18:30  
like a little, little old, a little fast.

Steve Barton  18:33  
I finally decided no, I want a regular life where I don't have to work all day and then work all night. And so I thought, well, this could be a salesman, because that seems pretty cushy. Right? I didn't I didn't understand what all that meant. But I think the experiences of me working in the factory for so long. Has has brought enough knowledge base that I didn't think I was going to have. And now as a salesman, and a sales engineer, I draw on that experience daily. And I think that's given me an advantage over a lot of other people who, who maybe learn it from a book versus learning it from being on the floor and having to figure it out. And I think that gives me in my troubleshooting capabilities of being them being able to analyze and figure out what the problems are because I did that for a living for 10 years. Reminded me

Bill Sharratt  19:29  
book learning. I forgot the Where did you get your educational start? You are a mechanical engineer by training. Yes.

Steve Barton  19:39  
manufacturing engineer. Okay. I got my Bachelor of Science degree from Brigham Young University. Okay, excellent. So BYU.

Bill Sharratt  19:51  
I'm assuming they did not teach you much about molding, rubber urethanes foams.

Steve Barton  20:00  
No, but my my plastics teacher that I had was a retired chemist for DuPont, our plastics class. So that kind of also piqued my interest. But you know, when you graduate from college, you take whatever you get originally right? Take whatever time. Yeah. And so eventually when I went back to plastics, and I got more involved in that, a lot of those memories came back. And then I started to realize that I had a fond love of rubber plastics, urethane, and I guess it was just waiting for me to find it. So that I could explore and understand but no more than 30 years. Fantastic.

Bill Sharratt  20:42  
You can't help but learn Kenya over that timeframe. You've got so rubber urethanes foams, then plastics? I mean, are we talking engineer plastics or? Because I know plastics are used as seal components, they're often right next to a seal in application. What about plastics has stood you in good stead through your career?

Steve Barton  21:11  
I haven't, I will admit, my experience with plastics is a lot more limited than it was with urethane and rubber, and foam. We did a lot enough to be dangerous, knew enough to be dangerous. We knew enough to be dangerous. We did a lot of manufacturing for the golf industry. We would make these discs that would go side by side and be dragged behind the trailer that would pick up golf balls at the driver. Oh,

Bill Sharratt  21:38  
yeah. Moving Target. But you see a

Steve Barton  21:41  
driver edge. Right? Right. We made millions of those plates that were used for the driving industry. And then with our urethane one day, we realized that as the material gets a heat history, and it's 55 gallon drums, it becomes useless, you can't use it anymore. And so we were throwing some of that away. And one day we had a guy come in and say hey, there's no way you can make me the driving the driving range mats, so that I can put those in the driving ranges. And that's when we realized that urethane can be used as a binder. And all the rubber that we throw away can be ground up, and we call it chrome rubber. And we mix those two together Now Anna, cement mixer with heaters on it, and pour it in and then we compress that put the green grass on top. And those are in probably most of the driving range of Stroud, California. Wow.

Bill Sharratt  22:35  
You and Patel both early pioneers in recycling earlier in your career. I love these conversations, I'm learning so much Steve from from the sharp, noisy end of rockets to pioneers in recycling, that's fantastic. Well, that

Steve Barton  22:52  
is just a way to cuz you, you know, we would throw away a full container a full dumpster of rubber every week. And when we figured out we could send that out and get ground and bring it back at maybe 10 or 15 cents on the dollar. And then use all that urethane which we typically we started the Can't they call it the can you measure it, you heat up the drum and then you put it in a five gallon containers. And so it only takes one heat set, then you can use those with more often. But when you're running it out of 255 gallon drum and you have to heat them up three or four times, it gets to a heat history where the binder doesn't work as well as it used to. And technically you're not supposed to use it. But it would work great as this binder. And so we ended up to save quite a bit of money for that and also serve an industry that we know we had no idea would be you know, doing. Excellent.

Bill Sharratt  23:47  
So when did you make the break into business development armed with your wealth of knowledge on real world how it gets done

Steve Barton  23:56  
information. When i i broke into sales of the company in California, after I'd done that for a couple of years, I realized there was one area that I was really short in and that was understanding the supply chain side. So I went out and became a consultant and I started my own business as a consultant. So that I could learn about suppliers overseas and all over the world. And basically what I started to do is I get the products built these places and then I would sell them to customers. I was the middleman it was just me so it wasn't I couldn't do you know an intense government work a complicated things but I did have several government customers that I worked with. They they would come to me because I could do one offs for them versus the big customers. And I learned a lot about I can't make this anywhere but in the US or I can make this overseas and And today, I still have a lot of context that I use now that I that I met and learned way back in, in the early 1990s, as a engineer that went out on my own to find more and more supply chain base who could help me do what I'm trying to do? And and we actually use some of those now in our in our company now. Fantastic. All right, then

Bill Sharratt  25:26  
in our company now fast forward to Darcoid. Business Development with expert, single focus on seal applications. How did you make the jump from knowing how to mold a quality rubber component to engineered seals and functionality of seals? What?

Steve Barton  25:51  
Where did that? Why did you pick up on that experience? Well, as I as I became a salesman, especially with Darcoid, as I came on, I realized that I was tending to pull myself towards the engineering side, because that's what I did. And then I realized I have, there's a real niche there that the engineers need to be able to help them at the beginning of taking their seal, making sure that it fits in their application that fits in their housing, that serves the purpose they're trying to do. I also learned that many times, a lot of engineers had the same feeling I had way back when when it's just the don't sale. So I'll get, I'll get all the big details out of the way, and then I'll worry about sale last. But that tends to do those end up, you leak, you have problems in your envelope was smaller than needs to be or you have the wrong compound chosen. And then it's too bloody late to make a change, because you waited till the last minute. And that's not necessarily I understand their concerns, I understand why they take that as the last option, because sometimes they just think it's just a silly little sale. But after they have a leak or recall, suddenly that seal is the most important thing in their whole application. Sure, and I try to explain that to them upfront, sometimes they get it, sometimes they don't. But I guarantee you. And once they have that experience where it fails for them, they never make it. They never take them lightly after that. And I tried to avoid having them learn that lesson. So that they know the assumption

Bill Sharratt  27:29  
is it's a no brainer. The assumption is, it's not going to be a problem. But when it when it does blow up in your face and derail your product launch or whatever. That is a hard learned lesson that stays with design engineers for a long time. I'm going to back to my notes here. Segue into rubber and performance in application. When I was talking to Darren pedal, you know, Darren, very well experienced seal designer, he he kind of said rubber just doesn't behave like any other engineered material you've ever worked with. Did those words ring true to you, Steve, in terms of seal applications? And and you know, what it actually does an application as opposed to what you assumed

Steve Barton  28:19  
it would do? Absolutely. I think a lot of times we get used to a certain type of, we have a certain picture in our mind of what rubber does and what it is. And and I think that's a dangerous way to look at things because you know, you can have a certain rubber and a certain type of family. And it may behave differently. And each different application you use and use the same content on all five different applications. And it behaves differently in all five. There's a lot of components that add to that temperatures, pressures, fluids, or whatever it's it's going to be exposed to that's what changes the the way the rubber behaves. And so you need to kind of understand that otherwise, it can be very frustrating. Your learning curve is steep for quite a while. I think. For me, that's one of the things that I've enjoyed that I've I've realized that if I can bring that expertise I've had for all these years and drawn that. That's what makes makes it valuable for the engineer. I've learned over the years that if you come into an engineering group and you're not prepared, the engineers typically don't want to listen to somebody who doesn't know what they're doing. And they will judge you almost immediately. So sometimes the young sales guys like I was if I had not had all that experience before on the floor. I would have been one of those guys that doorway mid shot on me and I would not have been able to get back to Some of these locations, but being able to look at what they're doing and give them a solution almost immediately. They saw that as as a way to, to cut down on some of their time, this guy knows what he's talking about. Let's rely on him. So I don't have to do it all myself. And that's, that's the thing that's been valuable for me. And being able to help these engineers solve their problems. Now, you always will get people who they'll push back and resist. And you do I can, and sometimes it works. And sometimes it doesn't show

Bill Sharratt  30:38  
as I was reflecting, it's your the rare package, Steve, of someone who has a wealth of experience and can talk, technical hitting the ground, and just about any conversation about a seal application. But it's got to be pretty darn intimidating to newcomers, trying to step into that role, especially when you know, you get you get a meeting with someone technical, they will sniff you out in a minute or two, on whether you have the chops to support them, which is intimidating. So, again, why we're building this podcast, we're trying to create store of knowledge and wisdom, but also why we you know, plan B, if A if you're that new salesperson, work for a company that's got a really solid technical support team that's ready to jump in and engage on that conversation with your, your, your customers. So that's, that's a big push that we've been making, building out that that technical resource, so it's a balancing act, you've got to be the guy who knows enough to be dangerous. But if you don't know the answer, you got to be you've got to have a team that can jump on that call straightaway and engage correct,

Steve Barton  31:57  
right, right. I mean, there's techniques that I have built over the years that you're not going to know everything in the conversation when you have it. The trick is to not let them know what you don't know it. So so a lot of times I have when I've come up against something very complicated. I have just said, I appreciate all the information you've given to me, please forgive me all that, give me a few minutes, just kind of review it all. I'll get back with you tomorrow. You get off the call, and you go, Oh, my gosh, I don't know what I'm doing. But they don't know that. And so then it gives you some time. Well,

Bill Sharratt  32:28  
they do now, Steve, because you're now on the internet. That's that's your trick.

Steve Barton  32:32  
I don't have that problem anymore. But that was I learned, I learned when I was an aerospace, I had to make a presentation. And we flew to Denver, and I thought it was just some engineers I was going to be talking to I had been out of college for two years. And I was in the project office. So it was by far and away the youngest person in that group. And I had a five minute presentation I had to do and as I got into the room, I realized they were the they were the Air Force generals, all the brass from, from Martin Marietta in the Air Force were in that room. It's been a nightmare. And I remember one of the one of the bosses from the other company, the main parent company came up to me before and he goes, Listen, you can only talk about you can only do what you can do. So only talk about what you know, if you try to, if you try to say things that you don't know, people will know that immediately and you lose all credibility in that in that conversation. And that has stuck with me my whole my whole career of talk about what you know, if you don't know it, don't talk about it. Because people will know immediately you don't talk about. And that's I think that's also how you gain credibility as a sales engineers talking about your strength. And if you don't know it, then you you realize, in that scenario, need learn and you go on to do your homework and you do your studying and you get good at it. But don't talk about stuff you don't know, because people know that immediately. And you get that reputation doesn't matter whether it's sales,

Bill Sharratt  34:01  
or whether you're discussing the next great golf ball design, whatever it is, I think that that holds true. It's personal integrity. And before you go in the room, make sure that you you have the resources to discover any information you need at your fingertips. Static sales, dynamic fields can be different based in terms of how they perform considerations. I know you have considerable experience in both any top tips for an engineer

Steve Barton  34:47  
looking at one type of seal versus another. Oh yeah, I mean, it's quite different between the two static versus dynamic seal I think most of the cases, if it's just rubber, those tend to be more static than they are dynamic and dynamic typically has to have some reinforcement, you know, it's gonna have plastic or metal on there to help it be stronger. I think the thing that I've learned over the years and static applications is I kind of call it a static dynamic seal. Because and some of the things that we do that go on these big trucks, even though it's a static application, when that engine is bouncing around in that whole housing is bouncing all over the place, that steel has taken a lot of beating that wouldn't normally see in just a simple compressed plan. And so it tends to take a little bit more of a dynamic approach. When we saw a lot of failures from that we realized, Okay, we've got to get a different material to accommodate the shake and the vibration versus just the heat, or the fluid or the temperature, or the pressures. When it comes to dynamic seals that have plastic and metal backings, then you have a whole different, whole different area of of what you work with. Now you have you have built up heat, you have friction, torque, a lot of those things you didn't see before in a static application you see and dynamic. So I think it just learning the basics, I think is the most important thing. I mean, I've seen a lot of guys who don't understand the difference between the two very well. And, and like anything else in rubber every day is a new experience. But those two areas are, are vastly different from each other. As far as as far as the application and more importantly, how they're made. Yeah, I'm going to

Bill Sharratt  36:49  
try and lead you along a certain path here. Bear with me. So you, it's about understanding the application, the actual end use, oftentimes, when we're onboarding a new project, we given an information set, and have added, that's all you need to design the sale. Sometimes there's some frustration because we come back and ask more questions, and sometimes even more questions. How much do you need to know about an application to really start working

Steve Barton  37:21  
on a really good design? Think obviously, it helps to understand the application. But perhaps the most important thing is I tried to arm myself with a few questions that apply in almost every situation. And so if you can ask those three or four questions right up front, that gives you quite a bit of information on on, at least, how the seal is going to be working. The environment seal is in is the first step. I mean, you can understand the entire application. Yeah, it goes into an engine but but if it's right on that one corner that never sees the fluid or never sees this, and the system will seal to help prevent getting burned and everything else in there. It doesn't really matter what the what the engine is, it's it's the environment around that particular seal, it's the most important question to at least to start out with. So I always ask, what are the temperatures and seas? What are the pressures that cease? And what's the environment and meaning is air, is it fluid, diesels gasoline? Yep. That's how I start normally, and then that will give me the basis of now I can choose the compound based on the temperature, I choose a compound based on the fluid app, the fluid application, and then you can go from there. Yep. Good.

Bill Sharratt  38:44  
And keep validating. Oftentimes, customers aren't quite sure of some of those. Those those key questions like you alluded to earlier that the harmonic effect that some dynamic, some static fields can be exposed to that that makes a difference. Got any examples of situations where you've been in a sales taken for granted and something didn't work out late stage or a change inassociated hardware tolerancing might have thrown something. Some examples or an example of how you how you wrote a new white horse and came to rescue.

Steve Barton  39:27  
We've had we've had several one that comes to mind as we had a seal that was in a gland that was being the gland was made up of three mating surfaces. So three mating components came together to make the client for the seal. That's a tricky one from the start right having. Okay, and it was, it was plastics, and it was casting metal. What happened was over time Plastic started to go one way, because as it wears out, the plant gets bigger and the casting was starting to wear out a little bit on the tool, these are the tools. So as they were making these parts started to change the dynamics of the gland.

Bill Sharratt  40:12  
So they're into the 1000s, or millions kind of

Steve Barton  40:17  
bigger, they start to change, the odd thing was one changes to a tighter budget, and the other ones changing to a bigger fit. So the glands started to shift a little bit. And the rubber just couldn't handle that big of a transition. And they caught it, after they had made almost a million dollars worth of hardware. Well, like whip Work in Progress hardware that now cannot be out and ready to be assembled for final is it couldn't use it. So we knew that the gland and we knew that the sale was going to be the easiest thing to change, because that was at least in this case, the least expensive to when you have a $200,000 Plastics tool and $150,000 glass castings tool, my $5,000, Roberto was probably the easier of the two to fix path of least resistance. The problem was is we're trying to figure out a way to be able to still use all those parts. And so we we started to do spreadsheets with Excel to figure out different compression sets. Because you're gonna have min max tolerance, stack ups, all that good stuff. Ultimately, we had to make a choice of what are the chances that I'm going to be on this end, versus on this end of the tolerance stack up. Whereas the worst case scenario that I'll see, and then I asked for all the data and they sent me probably 400 inspection sheets of each one of those parts. And we put that on our data sheet and we went through and figure it out, there was a window that covered probably 85% of all the parts that it shifted over. So we made are made or arrange for that. And they just took a bet that the others probably weren't going to be as extreme. Right. And we ran those. And then we came up with a sale, it was a custom seal. Customer ring. And we gave it to the to the to the customer and they ran through it. We gave him a bunch of samples there and it worked. And then they came back and said, will we be able to use this on all the existing hardware. And I said, that's the way we develop it. And then they changed their tooling to meet that new, more robust ordering design that we had for the long term. But we were able to save about 900,000 Out of the 100 the $1.2 million worth of scrap. Fantastic. So that took a long time. And there was a lot of pressure on it wasn't necessarily because it wasn't our fault. So our seal was performing the way it was designed. But the pressure was, you know, people's jobs and livelihoods. Yeah, making sure that we didn't get anybody fired, and keep everybody employed and also come up with a way we ran about 150 iterations on the spreadsheet and came up with one that worked. And that took about took about two months. And we finally got it to work. And Abraham's for about three more years. And then the program ended. It was like to the program and didn't ended but

Bill Sharratt  43:37  
put a million bucks and jobs on the line.

Steve Barton  43:40  
I went back to that facility about five years later, and the general managers. He was one of the first things he said was, I remember you, you're the one that and he brought that whole scenario up and I just thought I could help but for me, it was very exciting because it was something I'd never been able to do before. And I was lucky enough that it worked. Well lucky,

Bill Sharratt  44:03  
but it wasn't throwing darts was it I mean, you crunched the numbers here, you really looked at the data spread and the statistics and so solid work, solid pursuit of data and solid grounding on how seal seals work and what you need to do to optimize them. So

Steve Barton  44:25  
win win win. Well done. Good. So

Bill Sharratt  44:32  
as we wrap this because I know we're gonna respect everyone's time. Do you have a list or a sense of the most common mistakes or oversights that are made when someone's designing a seal? Certainly when when you get the call that something didn't work as expected what what what are the most common drivers

Steve Barton  44:56  
behind those dramas when they First start working with engineers. The most common thing that they do is they they miss judge. The Glanville meaning the seal goes in there for compression set and providing fill. They miss judge that based on the pressures and everything else that are going to happen. And so it tends to be a under under design until it's too small, so they don't get a good compression set in there to keep it from making. As I get going with them, they start to learn that the older engineers tend to make mistakes with the compound choice.

Bill Sharratt  45:40  
So they got the mechanics down, they got the basics of landfill and squeeze and so on. Right?

Steve Barton  45:45  
And that's okay. It's an interesting phenomena that I see a lot of times engineers will take a previous program here that that worked great on that burger, let's put it on this one. And they take the exact same cylinder put on that one. And the size is the same, but the whole application is completely different. And then what leaks, they're frustrated because well, it worked over there. Why does it not work here? Well, that ran at this temperature, this was running this temperature that ran and diesel, this is running in biodiesel, they're not saying and there are compounds and body cells that will only go, you know, nine 910 months, and then they die a horrible death. And then there's loads of the program parts where you need to make sure that that seal will run for the next seven or eight years in that. So that as we get along farther, and they tend to misjudge the compound with the application, the materials versus the younger guys just give up the simplest of things, which is the compression sets and good mentors,

Bill Sharratt  47:00  
who's influenced your career? I think you touched on this earlier, what what word of wisdom has steered you in good stead? I think we touched on no what you know of which you were talking about. Anything else that has really been impactful in your career?

Steve Barton  47:20  
Well, there was a there was a man that was a good friend of my father, when my father passed away, he kind of took me under his wing to be a mentor, I didn't look at him as mentor as much as just, there's just a really good friend. And one of the things he told me was he said, Whatever you do in life, he was very successful businessman. So whatever you do in life, make sure that when you go into that new job, or whatever it is, the biggest mistake people do is they go in there, and then they start talking to everybody, and they're not prepared. They don't know what they're doing. And he goes, if you're gonna go into any application, especially if you're an engineering, gonna be a sales engineer, when you walk into a room, be prepared, do your homework, know what you're talking about. Get yourself ready. So when you walk in there, they know you know what you're talking about. Because he said, just like any business deal, you get one chance. And if you blow that chance, you you will most likely not get it again. And, and sometimes the big deals might come once or twice. So if you goof up both of those, then you know, you're not going to you're not going to be a good engineer and you won't survive. And I know he was talking more about how he did the big dollar deals and all those things. But it kind of rang true to me. And as I as I started to go through all these different organizations to be an engineer learning how to do urethanes, rubber foam that that kind of started to ring true to me of when I go in there now. I have a lot of experience on how these parts run on the floor. I need to figure out how to apply that in my current job so that I can be that guy who walks in and doesn't have to worry about it. Yeah. And young engineer that went with me to one of our customers, and they hit us up with a lot of projects, a lot of problems. And when we got all done, the guy came to me said, How do you do that you're shooting from hit the whole day. You never opened up a book. You never looked at anything. You literally were shooting from the hip. And you had answers for everything. Well, that doesn't happen overnight. That was a lot of experience for me working on the floor. When I see a problem, I record it. I see another problem. I record it, and that I remember Oh, it worked in this application. This is a very similar way of doing it. And that's how I apply it. And I told him that too. I said that's something you have to learn Sometimes as an engineer at college or booksmart, but your experience is very, very low. Pay attention, build on

Bill Sharratt  50:09  
what the experience that you've lived through before. Don't show up stupid.

Steve Barton  50:19  
I'm not trying to say quite that way. But but but if you go in there and not really know what's going on, at least don't act like you know what's going on? Yes, yeah, yeah. Yeah. Excellent. All right.

Bill Sharratt  50:33  
Steve, anything that you'd like to cover that we haven't, whilst you have

Steve Barton  50:38  
the opportunity? No, I appreciate the opportunity. I think the world of rubber is changing every day. And and I guess the advice I might give for some of the younger guys is, you're never too old to learn. If you if you get to a certain point, and then you become comfortable. I use it to the, to the liking of my grandma had a telephone that was a dial. And until the day she died, she only use that dial phone. Well, if you use that in your world today of technology as an engineer, and you're still using a flip phone or a dial phone, you're so antiquated that nobody wants to go to you. Because you, you know, you were living in the 70s. You've got to learn every day to keep up with everything so that you can be influential ties

Bill Sharratt  51:33  
really well with Craig rice leaves advice on an earlier show, he was in an entirely different field, but basically saying, if you're not uncomfortable, you're not learning. And if you're not learning, you're not growing, basically. So be prepared to be uncomfortable, rather than in your safe zone all the time. That way, you know you're

Steve Barton  51:53  
stretching and growing and learning, right? I've been doing this a long time. And I talked about I've been doing it longer. Some of the engineers have been alive. And yet I learned something new almost every day. And I think that's the important thing is to just keep learning.

Bill Sharratt  52:09  
Well, I learned something new today, Steven, I really appreciate that. I had no idea you were you were at the sharp end of rockets. That's really cool. How do people get in touch with you if they want to? Is it through the dark road website? Would you like to be more available? How would you like

Steve Barton  52:27  
yeah, they can contact me on the website. LinkedIn, also I have my profile for Steve Barton, and there's a LinkedIn they can send me a message through that. Or worst case, they just called Darcoid and asked to get a hold of me. Excellent. Well,

Bill Sharratt  52:45  
audience members, I would thoroughly recommend you know, Steve, I recommend that you have a relationship with Him. Because better to have a relationship before you have a problem rather than scramble. When you do have a problem, so Steve is your man. Thank you, Steve, for your time today. I've really enjoyed our time. Looking forward to meeting you when you're next in the area. And thanks to our audience. Looking forward to the next show. Thank you for spending time with us today. Thank you.

Steve Barton  53:19  
Thanks so much for the opportunity. Appreciate it. Bye bye.

Outro  53:21  
Thanks for listening to the Makers of Our Future podcast. Behind every great product is a great seal. Learn more about how we can help at That's The best seal on time zero defects. Darcoid. 

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