Rubber seals have been a staple of manufacturing equipment since the invention of the o-ring in 1896. Modern rubber seals come in hundreds of shapes and sizes. Each is made using materials with unique properties that maximize their performance under specific circumstances. Choosing what’s best for your particular use can be a headache, and the wrong choice can lead to costly repairs and delays.
This article will highlight five tips for selecting the rubber seal that best suits your needs and give you information that can help you make the right choices.
1. Consider Your Usual Operating Temperatures
In choosing a rubber seal for a setup, you need to consider the typical working temperatures of the machine. If your equipment operates under extremely high or low temperatures, you would be better served by a PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) seal, as the material can withstand a wide range of temperatures. Silicone is a suitable alternative material. These seals can be found in high-temperature applications such as combustion engines, automobiles, and medical equipment.
2. Static or Dynamic?
Seals that have to withstand a lot of motion, pressure, and stress must be made of different materials than those used in static environments. If you are considering a type of rubber seal, it must be able to withstand your expected operating conditions. For example,
- PTFE seals are extremely rigid, so they are better suited to static applications.
- Silicone seals are also not very resistant to mechanical wear and tear, so they are also more suitable for static applications.
- Neoprene seals are much more resistant to flexing, cracking and stress, so they are suitable for dynamic applications such as motors and aircraft.
3. Choose Seals That are Chemical Resistant
In some applications, such as pharmaceutical, energy, and food industries, rubber seals must also be resistant to chemical corrosion. You should consider this when selecting a seal. If you expect the seal to come in frequent contact with corrosive substances, select an appropriate material.
Viton-based seals resist common chemicals such as acids, oils, and petroleum-based products. As such, they are commonly used in oil processing facilities. EPDM (ethyl propylene diene monomer) seals are also resistant to water, oxygen, heat, UV radiation and alkaline substances. Because of this, they are often used in outdoor plumbing fixtures.
4. Choose a Shape and Size that Suits Your Needs
While the ubiquitous o-ring is suitable for almost every application, you might need something a bit different, such as an x-ring or even a custom-made seal. Make sure you consider your specific use cases and machine specs before investing in a rubber seal of a certain shape, size, or material. This requires some independent research, and you need trustworthy sources.
There are several sources online to educate yourself on the proper type of materials and seal shapes for various uses. Some sources, like Apple Rubber, also offer high-quality support from industry experts to help you select the perfect seal for your needs.
5. Buy High-quality Seals from Trustworthy Manufacturers
A good rubber seal is an investment in the future. By buying the best ones you can, you save yourself future repair costs and losses caused by delays down the road. Find a trustworthy manufacturer and gather as much information as possible before purchasing.
Making the Right Choice of Seals
The right choice of seals depends on your needs and the operational environment the seal is meant for. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to rubber seals. With all the information you have gained from reading this article, you are much better prepared to decide what type of seals will best suit your needs and particular applications.