What You Must Know about Rubber O-Rings and Sealing Applications

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O-rings are normally designed from synthetic rubber known as elastomers. Since elastomer products look like natural rubber in terms of appearance, behavior, and feel, many consider synthetic O-rings as natural ones. It is the most widely used sealing application with a circular cross-section. These products are inexpensive to manufacture and come with a bi-directional seal that you can install easily. O-rings function seamlessly in most applications provided the rubber material is applied properly. With a round cross-section, O-rings are likely to twirl or spin in long-stroke reciprocating appliances. Dynamic sealing applications are designed to endure greater pressure and extreme temperature levels. Most O-rings are ideal for industrial use, where both the conditions and the environment are difficult to sustain. Custom elastomers are resistant to abrasion, ultra-violet rays, and harmful chemicals. Therefore, you should look for a dynamic seal application where a movement between the sealing and hardware component exists. The motion is usually rotary, reciprocating, or oscillating. If you are using a valve stem seal, the movement can be a combination of all.

Choose Elastomers Carefully

If you are considering purchasing O-rings for any industrial application, choose carefully. Do not spend money on products that lack the properties you are looking for. There are branded, high quality, and complex space age elastomer products used in aerospace applications and semiconductor wafer manufacturing. There is no need to buy costly elastomers if a low-priced material is available in the market. However, do not compromise on the quality of elastomer products. Select from the popular O-rings such as Buna-n O-rings or Nitrile O-rings. They are affordable and can be used for multiple purposes. You can also opt for sealing applications that are made of specialized materials like silicone and neoprene. These O-rings are known for their unique properties.


Common Elastomeric Seals

Now that you know what O-rings and dynamic sealing applications are, let’s discuss about some of the common elastomeric seals.

Rotary Seals:The basic functionality of rotary shaft seals is to prevent leakage problems and retain the bearing lubricant in applications. The leakage issues are avoided to protect the environment and to improve seal performance by reducing dust, dirt, product, water, and moisture seepage that could lead to the damage of the system’s bearing and other components. Higher speeds and pressures may result in frictional and thermal loads that affect the sealing parts of rotary seals, resulting in early damage and failure of the elastomeric seal. That’s why designers work on material selection and appropriate seal design. The high-quality sealing applications are designed to seal gases, fluids, oil, grease, vacuum, mist, or any other rotating equipment like rods, shafts, bores, and tubes.

Reciprocating Seals: Used mostly in the automobile industry, these elastomeric seals are meant for applications such as a moving piston or rod. However, you need to consider certain factors to ensure optimum performance. The factors include pressure shocks, choice of compound for thermal cycling, stretch, and squeeze. With the unexpected holding and halting of high loads, hydraulic machinery may produce system pressure in addition to the seal extrusion resistance capacities. To overcome this problem, anticipating pressure shocks to avoid extrusion and consequent damage to the O-ring is essential. So you need to be careful about the system design and choice of the seal. Accordingly, pressure relief valves or accumulators may have to be integrated into hydraulic equipment.

Thermal cycling from extreme temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or more to low temperatures of minus 40 degrees may damage the O-ring and its inability to bounce back at lower temperatures. This may fail to produce a leak-resistant seal. So, when you anticipate extreme operating thermal cycles, choose a compound that exceeds the desired compression set, temperature range, and resilience requirements. When an O-ring’s ID is stretched, the seal’s cross section is minimized. In such situations, ensure that the O-ring’s stretch doesn’t exceed five percent in most of the applications.

First-rate elastomer products are used in many industries for their versatility, efficiency, and performance. Opt for dynamic sealing applications for use in the marine, engineering, automotive, construction, and airline sectors.

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