The leakage of liquids and gases is one of the major concerns associated with the operation of machines and equipment across industries. To avoid problems that result from leakages, manufacturers rely on various types of rubber seals and gaskets in equipment.
Rubber seals are an integral part of valves, pumps, pipe fittings, and vacuums, and although they all serve the purpose of preventing leakages, they are not all the same. They differ in designs, materials, physical characteristics, resistance, and other features. Thus, several factors must be considered when designing or selecting the best sealing material for a particular sealing application, as the specification and properties of the seal are crucial to providing optimum performance.
Here are four factors to consider when selecting rubber seals.
1. The Industry of Use
The first step in designing or selecting the ideal rubber seal is understanding the specifics of the industry in which it will function. Rubber seals are made of different materials and are used across different industries which operate under varying conditions. In the medical industry, seal requirements include skin compatibility, flexibility, chemical resistance, etc.
Materials such as liquid silicone rubber, ethylene-propylene, and Viton fluoroelastomer are all commonly used due to their high resistance to heat and chemicals. In the aerospace and automotive industries, rubber seals will be exposed to high pressure and temperatures; thus, selecting rubber seals that will withstand such extremities is imperative.
Fluorosilicone is commonly used in the aerospace industry due to its ability to withstand a wide temperature range from -75 to 400 degrees. In the automotive industry, nitrile o-rings are the most common rubber seals not only for their temperature resistance but also due to their resistance to fluids like oil, water, and gasoline. Industries such as food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetics have restrictions on the type of materials used for rubber seals.
2. Key Parameters
The most important parameters to consider are chemical compatibility, temperature and physical properties of the rubber seal, and the ability to function effectively under continuous or intermittent operational conditions. Other important factors are the amount of friction and pressure it can withstand. Dimensional requirements are also crucial as it facilitates proper compression and adequate sealing.
3. Standards and Approval
Rubber seals in some industries are required to meet certain standards. Be sure to select rubber seals that comply with industry-specific standards. Common industry standards include the FDA, 3-A, USP Class VI, and NORSOK.
4. Reliable supplier
A reliable supplier is one that has the resources to handle custom and bulk orders of high-quality rubber seals easily. A supplier with adequate experience and expertise can give advice on the best seals for manufacturing and industrial processes and will have knowledge of standards and approvals for specific industries.
It is advisable to source rubber seals and o-rings from domestic suppliers as this cuts out the delays and complications of shipping which may put a dent in your supply chain and production process. With domestic suppliers, there are lower chances of communication and distance barriers. Assessments can be easily done, and there is easy access to samples of products.
The Value of Rubber Seals in Manufacturing Processes
Rubber seals are small and seemingly unimportant, but they are a crucial component of industrial processes. They come in various shapes, sizes, and properties. While some seals fall into a general category and can be used in different applications, others are application specific.
Deciding on the right seal for a specific application can be daunting, as there are a number of factors to consider. However, this feat is achievable by gaining a proper understanding of the types of seals, their properties and the industry in which they are compatible.