Category Archives: O-rings

Read more about O-ring seals in this collection of articles, which covers a variety of topics related to O-ring sizes and size standards, seal materials, installation, and much more.

Making Seals That Keep Dust Out Of Equipment

Dust is typically a minor annoyance that haunts the surfaces of our home. But in the world of engineering, machinery, and mechanical systems, it can be the difference between a reliable piece of equipment and disaster.

Dust can cause major damage to cylinder walls, rods, seals and other components inside of machinery. And if you’re not careful, dirt, mud, debris, and water can all cause damage as well.

These foreign contaminants are real problems for mechanical systems, especially as they build up in small quantities over time. A single particle of dust today may be no big deal. But a mote of dust a day will eventually become enough of a presence to cause serious issues, like friction, surface wear, and imperfect seal contact between surfaces.

These issues could compound until the mechanical system experiences a complete failure. It may seem like perfect is impossible, and that eventually some contaminants will get into your system no matter what you do.

But in some applications, like in automobiles and aircraft, failure is simply not an option.

Beyond those industries, many types of equipment need to stay clean on the inside, even when things get extremely messy on the outside. Examples include earth movers, hydraulic cylinders in steel mills, snow plows, and metal foundries, and in seals in logging equipment.

picture of wipers

How to Keep a Mechanical System 100% Dust-Free

Just as seals keep pressurized fluids and gases in piston and cylinder systems, there are components that are designed to do the exact opposite — keep contaminants out.

In the sealing industry, the three main types of components used to keep dust at bay are wipers, excluders, and scrapers. While each are a bit different, they all serve the same basic purpose, and are fitted on the exterior side of the main seals in a system.

The exact type of dust-prevention mechanism you need depends on what exactly you’re trying to protect against. Here are three different types below:  Continue reading Making Seals That Keep Dust Out Of Equipment

How to Properly Choose Commercially Available O-Ring Cross Sections

Article re-posted with permission from Parker Hannifin Sealing & Shielding Team.

Original content can be found on Parker’s website and was written by Dorothy Kern, applications engineering lead, Parker O-Ring & Engineered Seals Division.


There are 400+ standard O-ring sizes, so which is the right one for an application? Or maybe you are wondering if one O-ring thickness is better than another. This short article will walk through some of the design considerations for selecting a standard, commercially available O-ring for an application.

Design Considerations

Hardware geometry and limitations are the first consideration. A traditional O-ring groove shape is rectangular and wider than deep. This allows space for the seal to be compressed, about 25% (for static sealing), and still have some excess room for the seal to expand slightly from thermal expansion or swell from the fluid.  Reference Figure 1 as an example. Once the available real estate on the hardware is established, then we look at options for the O-ring inner diameter and cross-section.

AS568 Sizes

From a sourcing perspective, selecting a commercially available O-ring size is the easiest option.  AS568 sizes are the most common options available both through Parker and from catalog websites.  A list of those sizes is found in a couple of Parker resources including the O-Ring Handbook and the O-Ring Material Offering Guide. They are also listed here.  The sizes are sorted into five groups of differing cross-sectional thicknesses, as thin as 0.070” and as thick as 0.275”, shown in Table 1 below.
Continue reading How to Properly Choose Commercially Available O-Ring Cross Sections

How HEPA Filters and Boundary Seals Help Protect Us During Pandemics

Boundary seals that help keep a certain environment sealed in while keeping the world out are everywhere.

If you look around your home, you may be surprised to see there are seals surrounding every door — and not just at the bottom. Your oven, microwave, and of course refrigerator door all have seals around them.

All these seals are different, yet they perform the same function. Your microwave is especially interesting, as its primary purpose is to keep microwaves from escaping the chamber that’s cooking your food. Your refrigerator seal has a magnet built into it, which keeps the door sealed shut.

Boundary seals are also found in many cell phones and electronic devices, keeping them water-resistant or water-proof (depending on the manufacturer). And in the industrial world, we have seals to create explosion-proof boxes in hazardous environments. The simple O-ring is found at the end of every cylinder cap to keep fluids in and the environment out.

We all go through great expenses to seal our houses from the outside with sturdy doors, only to find that we need fresh air here and there. Our windows have a series of seals around them keep the heat or the cold outside, but can be opened to allow fresh air when we want it.

In the same way that boundary seals work, the pandemic has many of us thinking about how to keep hazardous germs from entering into our homes. And if we have to fly, we may wonder how fresh the air is in the cabin, and if viruses have an easier time spreading inside of an airplane.

Boundary Seals in Aviation

Let’s begin with general aviation aircraft with pressurized cabins. The door’s seal is in the form of a bladder, which you pump up with the same type of bulb often found on a blood pressure cup.

Doors are especially difficult to seal, as they’re required to open and close. A rubber seal that would compress and seal the door completely would make the door too difficult to open and close.

After the door is closed, the pilot pumps up the bladder to seal the door. As the engines are wound up, the flight deck begins the process of pressurizing the aircraft. A pressure system from the engine maintains the pressure within the cabin around 8000 feet, allowing the pilot to breathe without the use of supplemental oxygen.

While these seals are not dynamic in the true sense of the word, they are constantly changing based on the altitude of the aircraft.

Most of the pressurization seals on our modern jets are static. But every door, including the luggage compartment, has seals that must be pressurized in order for the aircraft to maintain a safe level of oxygen in the cabin.

picture of HEPA filter by GoreDo Jet Planes Blow Clean Air?

Many travelers worry about getting sick on airplanes. With tight quarters and no ability to open a window and get some air, travelers may wonder whether the air from the vents above them is blowing fresh air — or if it’s circulating stale air and germs.

A few months ago, Cliff at Eclipse Seal performed a non-scientific study on a flight by asking the passengers next to him what they thought of the circulated air in modern aircraft today. Cliff was not surprised to find a wide range of answers, varying from someone envisioning a squirrel blower forcing air around the cabin, with others believing 100% of the air comes from the outside.

HEPA Filters on Airplanes

The truth lies somewhere in-between. Turns out, 50% of the air blowing through jet cabins is actually coming from the outside.

That’s one of the reasons why the air that blows through the vents is so cold — the 50% of air that comes from outside is around -30F, which is why stewardesses need to turn the heat on to keep us comfortable.

The rest of the air is recirculated air through a HEPA filter system, or “High Efficiency Particulate Air.”

This is the same air found in surgical operating theaters or clean rooms, with an efficiency that oftentimes exceeds 99% pure. In our modern-day aircraft, this filter helps stop the spread of whatever just came out of that guy’s mouth 5 rows up, cleans cigarette smoke, and even works to stop the spread of infectious viruses through the cabin.

If you’re traveling on one of the silver birds, your best option for the cleanest air is to turn that overhead jet on high and let it blow around your face. This funnel forces air that may be lingering around your nose and mouth aside, providing a fresh stream of cool, clean air.

Cliff even spoke to the pilot or driver of an A320, who has seen the process of cleaning the HEPA Filters. He claimed it was about as nasty as cleaning…well…you get the point.

Another pilot friend of Cliff’s even suggested that if you have to travel during the coronavirus outbreak, you should turn the air on and allow the HEPA filters the opportunity to blow clean, fresh air over your nasal cavities, promoting a safer ride and reducing the probability of infection.

So, bundle up, turn on the jets, and sit back and enjoy the ride. The door seals will keep you breathing, and the HEPA filters could keep you safe.


The original article was written by Cliff Golstein, CEO at Eclipse Seal and can be found on their website.

Gallagher Fluid Seals is an authorized distributor of Eclipse Seal. For more information about how Gallagher and Eclipse can help for your custom application, contact Gallagher.

Kalrez® Bonded Door Seals

picture of kalrez bonded door seals

Bonded door seals for gate valves and slit valve door seal applications provide improved sealing performance versus conventional O-rings by reducing particle generation, extending seal life, and minimizing replacement time during preventive maintenance.

DuPont Kalrez® bonded door seals are designed for easy installation and low particle generation. They combine a custom seal design and proprietary adhesion technology along with the excellent plasma resistance of Kalrez® perfluoroelastomer seal materials developed for semiconductor applications. The seal is held in a “fixed” position versus conventional O-rings, thereby eliminating “rolling/twisting” and abrasion during door actuation. In addition, the seal design has been optimized using finite element analysis (FEA) to minimize high concentrations of localized stresses. As a result, both particle generation and sealing performance are significantly improved versus conventional O-rings.

Typical Applications

Bonded door seals replace O-ring seals currently used in gate valve, and slit valve dovetail grooves in particle sensitive semiconductor etch, ash, strip and/or deposition processes.

Lower Particle Generation and Extended Seal Life versus Conventional O-rings

  • Sealing element held in a “fixed” position, i.e., eliminates “rolling/twisting” in service
  • Design eliminates O-ring abrasion against edge of dovetail groove during actuation/compression
  • Kalrez® semicon product grades used to minimize particle generation in reactive plasmas
  • Kalrez® Ultrapure post-cleaning and packaging reduces unwanted contamination
  • Improved sealing performance—optimal design minimizes high concentrations of localized stresses

Less Replacement Time Versus O-ring Seals During Preventive Maintenance

  • Quick and easy assembly/disassembly to mounting hardware
  • Reduces installation problems commonly experienced with O-ring seals
  • Eliminates need to clean the seal gland during preventive maintenance
  • Barcode on packaging plus bonded door seal part number and Kalrez® product number engraved on back of commercially available bonded door seals enables traceability and identification providing assurance that it is a Kalrez® perfluoroelastomer part (FFKM).

Availability

DuPont Kalrez® bonded door seals are available for a number of valve types used in semiconductor OEM equipment platforms.  In addition, a custom Kalrez® bonded door seal can be developed for most gate valve and slit valve door applications if not currently available.  Kalrez® UltraPure post cleaning and packaging is standard for all bonded door seals.


The original article was featured on Dupont Kalrez® website and can be found here.

Gallagher Fluid Seals is an authorized Kalrez® distributor. For more information about Kalrez products or to obtain a quote, please contact Gallagher Fluid Seals today.

Reduce Downtime and Costly Seal Replacements: Seal Failure Diagnosis Part 2

Article re-posted with permission from Parker Hannifin Sealing & Shielding Team.

Original content can be found on Parker’s Website and was written by William Pomeroy, applications engineer, Parker O-Ring & Engineered Seals Division.


As mentioned in part one of Parker’s seal failure blog series, O-ring and seal failures are often due to a combination of failure modes, making root cause difficult to uncover. It’s important to gather hardware information, how the seal is installed, application conditions, and how long a seal was in service before starting the failure analysis process. In part 1, compression set, extrusion and nibbling, and spiral failure were discussed. In part 2 of Parker’s series, they will review four other common failure modes to familiarize yourself with before diagnosing a potential seal failure in your application.

Rapid gas decompressionRapid Gas Decompression

Rapid gas decompression (commonly called RGD, or sometimes explosive decompression (ED)) is a failure mode that is the result of gas that has permeated into a seal that quickly exits the seal cross section, causing damage.

Detection of this failure mode can be difficult, as the damage does not always show on the exterior.  When the damage is visible, it can look like air bubbles on out the outside, or perhaps a fissure that has propagated to the surface.  The damage may also be hidden under the surface.  If the seal is cut for a cross section inspection, RGD damage will look like fissures in the seal that may or may not propagate all the way to the surface.

Parker’s guidance as to how to avoid this failure mode is: 1) Keep the depressurization rate lower than 200 psi per minute.  If this cannot be achieved, they would suggest 2) RGD resistant materials.  Parker offers these RGD resistant options from the HNBR, FKM, EPDM, and FFKM polymer families.

AbrasionAbrasion

Abrasion damage is the result of the seal rubbing against a bore or shaft, resulting in a reduction of cross sectional thickness due to wear.  As the seal wears, it has the potential to lose compression on the mating surface.  This wear is compounded by the fact that dynamic applications already have lower compression recommendations.

To reduce risk for this failure mode, it requires consideration during design and seal selection.  The surface finish and concentricity of the hardware will be very important considerations.  A smooth surface results in less friction (suggest 8 to 16 RMS), which in turn results in less wear.  Increasing the durometer of the seal material helps resist wear, and there are also internally lubricated materials that could be employed.  If the application is high temperature, one should consider the impacts of thermal expansion on the elastomer being used.  The thermal expansion increases contact pressure, which would increase friction / wear. Continue reading Reduce Downtime and Costly Seal Replacements: Seal Failure Diagnosis Part 2

The Advantages and Disadvantages of the Channel Seal

The Channel Seal (or Cap Seal, as it’s often referred to), was one of the earliest forms of Polymer or Teflon sealing in the seal industry.

The product is easily applied. It didn’t replace the O-ring, but instead offered improved life while reducing drag.

In doing so, hydraulic and pneumatic systems operated cooler and quieter, while improving overall performance of the product.

picture of channel seal

Evolution of the Channel Seal

Before the Channel Seal, the Backup ring was established. The first Backup rings started out as leather, as this material was readily available and could be easily formed into any shape with simple dies to stamp the Backup ring out.

Back up rings provided support for the O-ring, allowing the O-ring to operate at higher pressures, while closing off the Extrusion or “E” gap. This stopped the O-ring from being nibbled in the extrusion gap, therefore extending the life of the O-ring.

Teflon Backup rings were a big improvement, as they would better fill the gap and would stay put (as opposed to leather, which tended to shift in the groove). With the use of two Backup rings, an O-ring was well supported from pressure in both directions.

It was a simple matter to connect the two Backup rings with a thin membrane of Teflon, which removed the O-ring from the sealing surface. This change reduced drag and improved performance, while still maintaining an excellent mechanism for extrusion resistance.

This design was relatively simple to machine out of Teflon, but installation was a challenge, as the Backup rings were full depth. This caused the seal to become distorted during the install process. Today, we almost never see this type of design.

With CNC machining, the ability to nestle, and an O-ring design in a complex Teflon shape, it gave rise to what is referred to today as the Channel Seal, or Cap Seal.

This style seal offers an abundance of advantages over standard back-up rings and the early version of the Channel Seal, which was simply a Backup ring with the membrane of Teflon in-between. Continue reading The Advantages and Disadvantages of the Channel Seal

Sealing Solutions for Large Diameter Rotating Shafts: ZAVA V-Rings

First, What is a V-Ring?

The function of a V-Ring seal, or V-Ring, is to act as a centrifugal seal acting against the bearing face, pushing dirt and contaminants away from the bearing area.  V-Rings are not designed to seal against fluids or pressure differentials. However, as stated above, they are excellent at excluding all sorts of contaminants. They provide effective protection against loss and maintenance, reduce wear, increase the life of the retainer and bearings, and also work well in dry running applications.

V-Ring Applications

picture of zava seal v-ring
The most innovative V-Ring on the market: The Zava Seal with a quick-lock mechanism.

V-Rings are suitable for a whole range of sealing applications as well as rotary shaft applications such as electric motors, pumps, and agricultural machinery. This type of seal has proved to be reliable and effective against penetrating impurities such as dirt, sand, dust, greases, and splashes of water & oil in a variety of industries:

  • Pulp and paper
  • Steel mills
  • Cement mills
  • Mining
  • Rolling mills
  • Power generation
  • Fluid power
  • Chemicals
  • Food & Drink

How Do V-Rings Work?

V-Rings are flexible rubber seals that work by stretching and fitting onto a shaft and then rotating with the shaft against a counter face. They are designed to give the lips an automatic sealing action. They help to increase the sealing area by providing secondary sealing as pressure acting on the platform ring.

The Split V-Ring with ZAVA Quick-Lock

The V-Ring from ZAVA® Seal has a unique patented quick-lock that can be assembled quickly and easily, and in some cases can be installed without shutting down the filter. Because it’s mounted without vulcanizing, machinery downtime is significantly reduced. When “snapped in place,” the locking technology makes it impossible to detach. The quick-lock mechanism is made of acid-proof steel (SS 2343).  The split V-Ring from Zava can be made in many different lengths and cross sections and also in several different types of materials, specifications, and profiles.

Advantages of the Split V-Ring With ZAVA Quick-Lock

  1. Split and lockable
  2. Fast and easy to assemble
  3. Unique and patented quick-lock
  4. Elastic and workable
  5. Reduction in fiber loss
  6. Maximum leakage reduction
  7. No wear of the shaft
  8. A variety of different sizes

How Does the Quick-Lock Work?


For more information about the Zava Seal and to see if it might be the right fit for your application, contact Gallagher’s Engineering Department today.

Gallagher Fluid Seals is an authorized distributor of Zava Seal.

Installation of Linear Fluid Power Seals

Article re-posted with permission from Parker Hannifin Sealing & Shielding Team.

Original content can be found on Parker’s Website and was written by Nathan Wells, application engineer, Engineered Polymer Systems Division.


So, you’ve unboxed the shiny new Parker seals you ordered – now what?  Installing seals for the first time can be challenging without the right know-how and tools. In this article we’ll discuss best practices for seal installation in linear fluid power systems, and how to design your system to make seal installation fast and damage-free.

SEAL GROOVE STYLES

picture of closed rod seal groove

First, let’s look at three common groove styles:

•    Closed
•    Stepped, and
•    Open (or two-piece)

Closed groove

The closed seal groove fully encapsulates the seal and is the most common style used (see Figure 1).

Closed grooves are simple to machine and offer the best support for seals. Since seals in this configuration are surrounded by solid metal, without a well-developed process, installation can be challenging. Rod seals need to be folded to fit into internal (throat) grooves and piston seals must be stretched over the outside of the piston.

picture of cylinder head and piston seals

Notice how both designs shown in Fig. 2 and Fig. 3 utilize static seals (turquoise colored seal) on the opposing side of the dynamic, primary seals. Therefore, installation in either instance requires techniques and tools for both rod and piston seals.

Stepped groove

Typically utilized to ease seal installation, stepped grooves feature a reduced diameter on the low-pressure side of the seal as shown in Fig. 4 and Fig. 5.

picture of rod stepped groove

As shown, the “step” is just wide enough to hold the seal in place as the rod or piston strokes back and forth. This way, seals don’t have to be folded or stretched nearly as much when installing. This design works well for single seals only holding pressure from one direction, like Parker FlexiSeals™.

When using multiple seals stacked in series or in systems with bi-directional pressure, a closed or two-piece groove is needed for support on both sides.

Open and two-piece grooves

Open or two-piece grooves are used when the seal is either too small to be stretched or folded into a closed groove, or if it’s made of a material that doesn’t spring back after flexing.

Figures 6 and 7 show two examples of open grooves. Figure 6 uses a washer and a snap ring to hold the seal in place. Figure 7 uses a bolt-on cap. These groove designs can be used for bi-directional seals, too. As you can see, open grooves cost more to produce but seal installation is a snap.

picture of open rod groove

Open grooves also make removing the seal much easier – useful in systems which require periodic seal replacement. Continue reading Installation of Linear Fluid Power Seals

Reduce Downtime and Costly Seal Replacements: Seal Failure Diagnosis Part 1

Article re-posted with permission from Parker Hannifin Sealing & Shielding Team.

Original content can be found on Parker’s Website and was written by William Pomeroy, applications engineer, Parker O-Ring & Engineered Seals Division.


There are many situations where an O-Ring may not last as long as one thinks that it should. When the expectation is realistic and yet the seal fails earlier than expected, Applications Engineering teams are often asked to help discover the seal failure mode(s).

Seal failure is often due to a combination of failure modes, making root cause difficult to uncover. When beginning a failure analysis, items usually asked for include: hardware information, how the seal is installed, application conditions (temp, fluids, and pressure exposure), and how long into the service that the seal failed. These details help bring the overall application into focus and enable a quick diagnosis to help resolve seal failures. In part one of the seal failure blog series, we will discuss compression set, extrusion, and spiral failure.

Compression set

  • picture of compression setCompression set is likely the most common failure mode for elastomer seals. Compression can be defined, or rather quantified, by the seals ability to return to its original shape after compression is removed. Zero percent compression set indicates that no relaxation (permanent deformation) has occurred, while 100% compression set indicates that total relaxation (seal no longer applies a force on the mating surface). When investigating material options, note that the lower the % compression set for a given compound, the more resilient the material is. However, it is extremely important to ensure you are making equal comparison in terms of time and temperature for the test conditions.
  • There are many potential causes for compression set.
    • Poor material properties
    • Improper gland
    • Fluid incompatibility
    • Temperature exposures above the recommended range for the material.

Extrusion and Nibbling

  • picture of extrusionThe driving force (pun intended) for this failure mode is the pressure load that the seal is exposed to. Extrusion most often occurs when a seal material deforms into the space between the bore and the outside of the tube (commonly referred to as the extrusion gap or “E-gap”). An approximation for the pressure rating for a seal can be determine by evaluating figure 3-2 of the Parker O-Ring handbook. The X-axis shows the size of the clearance gap (total gap, or diametral gap), and the Y-axis is the pressure load. The curves on the chart correspond to the hardness of the rubber. Extrusion can also occur due to gland overfill, when the deformation from compression of the seal fills the entire groove and lips over into the extrusion gap.
  • Face seals do not usually have an extrusion gap, so this orientation can achieve much higher pressure loads than a radial seal. Without a gap for the seal to extrude into, the risk of significant extrusion is highly diminished.
  • Extrusion in radial seals can by combated by reducing the clearance gap or by adding a back up ring.

Spiral Failure

  • picture of spiral failureSpiral failure can be more simply described as the O-Ring rolling in the groove. This failure more is most common in dynamic reciprocating O-Ring applications. However, spiral failure can also occur during installation. An image of spiral failure is unique, and relatively easy to diagnose, but the root cause of spiral failure can sometimes be difficult to pinpoint. Uneven surface finish, poor lubrication, side loading, eccentricity, or perhaps stroke speed can all contribute to spiral failure.

Check out Parker’s neat video about Seal Failure Modes:

Parker and Gallagher Fluid Seals can help diagnose seal failures and the best sealing solutions for your application.

Stay tuned for Part 2 in this series.


For more information about how Gallagher Fluid Seals can help you, contact our engineering department today.

Metal Detectable & X-Ray Detectable Rubber Materials

Food, Beverage, and Pharmaceutical Regulations

picture of metal detectable o-ringStringent government regulations mandate that food, beverage, and pharmaceutical manufacturers keep foreign material out of ingredients to ensure food and drug safety for consumers. Preventing foreign material from entering the processing stream is of the utmost concern but there must also be measures in place to detect contaminated product and quarantine it before distribution.

Component parts that are used in food and drug processing equipment can become damaged by improper installation and/or excessive shear experienced during operation that causes fragments of rubber, plastic, and metal to contaminate ingredients. Chemicals used for cleaning and sterilization of equipment can cause rubber seals to degrade, increasing the probability of particles breaking off and entering the consumable products. Part failures causing product contamination can lead to machine down time, scrap product, product recalls and result in legal problems and negative media attention. All of which have a significant financial impact and can compromise brand loyalty within the market.

Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)

picture of precision metal detectable o-ringsMany processing operations now employ HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) programs which stipulate that all parts have to be metal detectable and X-ray detectable. This made it necessary to develop special rubber materials that would allow food processors to conduct routine inspections for this type of contamination utilizing in-line metal detectors and X-ray machines. Rubber must be compounded with special additives to make detection possible. However, certain foods have phase angles similar to metal detectable rubber so a complete understanding of the rubber product’s application is necessary for proper compound selection.

Metal Detectable O-Rings | X-Ray Detectable O-Rings

Precision Associates has developed four Metal and X-Ray detectable materials made with ingredients sanctioned under FDA Title 21 CFR 177.2600.

All four materials are 3A Sanitary 18-03 approved and are available in Silicone, Nitrile, EPDM, and FKM. Each is 70 durometer and blue in color. (The industry standard color is blue but materials can be colored for specific customer requirements and any polymer can be made metal detectable).

All compounds were tested by an independent laboratory and found to have magnetic properties that exceed industry standards.

picture of compound table precision o-rings


The original article was written by Precision Associates, Inc. and can be found here.

For more information about what Gallagher can offer through Precision Associates, or to talk to a technical sales expert about these materials, contact us today.