Tag Archives: O-Rings

Semiconductor Fabs Lower Cost of Ownership with HiFluor Materials

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

Original content can be found on Parker’s Website and was written by Nathaniel Reis, Applications Engineer for Parker O-Ring & Engineered Seals Division.


parker hifluor processIn our semiconductor entry from last month, we noted that lowering the cost of ownership is a multi-faceted goal. We discussed how one of the areas for potential improvement is mechanical design and how the Parker EZ-Lok seal is a major solution to mechanical seal failure. In this entry, we’ll investigate a notably different type of cost-reduction opportunity – material selection – and see how Parker’s innovative HiFluor compounds can reduce seal costs to as little as half.

Critical Environments

When it comes to the seal industry, the semiconductor market is well known as one where the most premium, chemical-resistant compounds are a necessity. Microelectronic manufacturing processes involve chemistries that push the limits of what elastomeric compounds can withstand in terms of both chemical aggressiveness and variety. The perfluorinated materials (FFKM) capable of withstanding these environments require intricate manufacturing processes regulated by closely-guarded trade secrets and the significant investment of resources.

These factors drive the price of FFKM compounds to the point of being as much as 50 times the cost of any other variety. Cutting just a slice out of this cost can result in significant savings – a chance to take out a quarter or even half the pie would be advantageous to the overall bottom line. Fabricators should be continually on the lookout for more cost-effective compounds that show equal performance in their pertinent operations.

hifluor compound pictureThis is why Parker’s HiFluor compounds offer an opportunity for cost savings that shouldn’t go unnoticed. A unique hybrid of performance between FFKM and the simpler technology of fluorocarbon (FKM) elastomers, HiFluor offers the most superb chemical compatibility in the many semiconductor environments where the high temperature ratings of FFKM aren’t necessary – and at a fraction of the cost.

Not only can HiFluor be used where even FKM is lacking, but its performance in applications with aggressive plasma exposure is spectacular as well. This can be observed by its overall resistance to plasma-induced material degradation. However, Parker has also developed multiple formulations that display extremely low particle generation when most materials would be expected to suffer severe physical and chemical etch.

Solutions and Cost Savings

As an example: One major semiconductor fab had several factors (other than their seals) dictating the frequency of their preventative maintenance (PM) intervals. The fab wanted to replace their seals at these intervals as a precautionary measure to limit the chance of them becoming another PM-increasing factor. However, this caused these premium FFKM seals to be a source of inflated cost. Parker assisted with a process evaluation that resulted in over half the seals being replaced with cost-effective HiFluor O-rings, while the tool regions with more intense plasma exposure were reserved for the elite performance of Parker’s FF302.

Another major fab in the microelectronics industry switched from FKM to FFKM seals in their oxide etch process. The tool owner achieved the desired performance improvement, but soon began searching for less expensive options. The owner recognized the plasma resistance and low particulate generation of Parker’s HiFluor compound, HF355. After implementing this change, he retained the performance improvement, but at a fraction of the cost.

Semiconductor tool owners understand that their aggressive processes require the most robust, expensive FFKM seal materials. The price tag on these seals is greater than those from any other compound family. Fortunately, HiFluor is a proven sealing solution that can bridge the gap and provide the same kind of high performance at a much lower cost.


For more information about Parker O-Rings, including HiFluor, or to find a custom solutions for your application, contact Gallagher Fluid Seals today.

Semiconductor Fab Processes Benefit From Retention Ribbed EZ-Lok 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 Nathaniel Reis, applications engineer, Parker O-Ring & Engineered Seals Division.


When it comes to semiconductor fabrication processes, reducing the cost of ownership is a multi-faceted goal approached from a variety of angles. Tool engineers and equipment technicians take pride in their ability to identify factors that limit tool uptime. One constant headache they face is the mechanical failure of seals in dynamic environments. This can lead to premature downtime or reduced preventative maintenance (PM) intervals, both of which lead to a higher cost of ownership. Fortunately, tool owners have begun to implement seal designs better suited for these dynamic environments: Parker EZ-Lok is a proven solution.

Spiral Failure

picture of spiral o-ring failure

One of the more extreme forms of mechanical failure to be prevented is twisting and spiraling of an O-ring during operation. This occurs with O-rings in dovetail glands where one of the sealing surfaces is a door that opens and closes against the seal. The combination of stiction to the door and stretch in the gland causes the O-ring to roll and twist repeatedly with each cycle, resulting in permanent cyclic deformation. This means that a seal profile with a flat contact surface is vital for this type of dynamic function.

Other designs

The basic D-profile is the fundamental simple shape that serves as the basis of the EZ-Lok solution. The flat portion of the “D” holds the seal in place and prevents rolling, while the opposite, round contact surface focuses the sealing force and helps keep volume requirements at a minimum. These geometric features make for sound sealing function while preventing the drastic spiral damage seen so often in the industry.

picture of d-profile

A standard D-ring is still more limited by volume requirements than traditional seals like O-rings. In addition, a D-ring’s sharp corners can become difficult to install past the top groove radii if the seal is made much wider than the groove opening. On the other hand, a seal made any narrower would be easily removed without intention, such as that induced by stiction to the door. These reasons are why the basic D-profile alone is not the answer to these failure modes.

The Solution

picture of Parker EZ-Lok seal

The solution to these dilemmas is a unique D-shaped profile with a geometry that lends itself to the spacial constrictions of dovetail glands, prevents rolling, and locks into place: the Parker EZ-Lok seal. These seals are designed with special retention ribs placed with precise frequency around the seal circumference that allows for smooth installation and keeps the seal retained in the gland. This design also removes any tendency to stretch the seal during installation, which is often seen with more conventional seals.

The combination of retention ribs with a fundamental D-ring profile makes EZ-Lok the ideal geometry for effective use of the high-performance compounds typically required for aggressive semiconductor chemistries. EZ-Lok seals allow for lower cost of ownership through PM-minimization and reduced seal overhead costs, made possible by effective mechanical design. This is an example of how Parker’s effective design engineering can reduce the cost of ownership and bring premier solutions to the table.


For more information about Parker’s full suite of solutions and sealing products, contact Gallagher Fluid Seals’ engineering department.

Reduce Maintenance Costs When Sealing Dry Running Equipment

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, Parker Engineered Polymer Systems Division.


My grandpa used to have a rusty, old air compressor in his shop. As a child, when my siblings and I would visit him, he’d use it to power air wrenches, grinders, and inflate flat soccer balls for us. I noticed it had a port labeled “ADD OIL DAILY” that was covered in the same thick layer of greasy dust as all the other unused junk in his shop. Knowing my grandpa, if asked about adding oil he probably would have said, “Oil is expensive. That’s how the companies get ya!” The compressor’s seals leaked so badly, you could hear the hissing even over the loud motor. I was certain one day it would explode.

picture of dry running equipmentPneumatic tools are common in factories, tool shops, and DIY garages around the world. Using compressed air for power is convenient, simple, and — when maintained properly — safe and efficient. However, air treatment costs can add up fast. Traditional rubber seals used in air tools require clean, low moisture, compressed air with the proper amount of lubrication added. Good Filter/Regulator/Lubricator systems (FRLs) cost as much as the tools themselves! So, what would happen if we didn’t have to provide pristine air?

Today we have the technology to create seals for tools which don’t require daily or even yearly upkeep. You’ll find these tools labeled “maintenance-free,” which sounds great to the guy responsible for maintenance. It sounds even better to the guy paying for maintenance … and to engineers designing tools who want to keep warranty costs down.

Seal materials for dry running

Early pressure seals were made out of leather. My grandpa’s compressor probably wasn’t that old, but even since his time, we’ve come a long way.

When I’m asked for seal recommendations in totally dry-running applications, my mind clicks to a material called PTFE (chemical name polytretrafluoroethylene). Most people know PTFE by the brand name Teflon® and are familiar with its use when applied to cookware as a high temperature, slippery, non-stick coating.

PTFE is a semi-hard plastic which feels slick to the touch thanks to its low friction properties. It’s considered self-lubricating because it leaves micro deposits on the sealing surface and reduces friction after just a few strokes. Because of this, it’s good for high-speed sealing and can operate completely dry.

By adding fillers to PTFE, seal manufacturers can tailor materials for greater suitability in meeting performance requirements for a wide range of conditions. String-like additives including fiberglass and carbon fiber increase pressure rating, wear resistance and seal life. Dry lubricant-type additives such as graphite or molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) further increase a seal’s ability to run without lubrication, and at higher speeds and pressures. In pneumatic medical, pharmaceutical, and food processing systems, clean grade mineral-based strengtheners may be used as additives.

PTFE seals for dry running equipment are available in several profile configurations:

Continue reading Reduce Maintenance Costs When Sealing Dry Running Equipment

What to Know, Avoid, and Consider When Planning Seals for Medical Devices

Seals are one of the most important components in many medical devices. While small in cost, seals for medical devices have a profound affect on the function of said device and the outcome of a medical procedure.

Engineered sealing solutions have advanced to meet the new medical device designs due both to new materials and to new processes for producing these seals. An understanding of the fundamentals of seal design, the tools available to assist in the manufacturing process and pitfalls to avoid will help in achieving a successful seal and medical device outcome.

Classifying the three basic seal designs

When approaching a new seal design, It is important to classify the seal based on its intended function. All seals fall into one of three distinct groups. While certain applications may combine more than one group, there is always one that is dominant. The three basic seal designs are:

Static — seal applications where there is no movement.
Reciprocating — seal applications where there is linear motion.
Rotary — seal applications where there is rotation.
Static seal applications are the most common and include those that prevent fluids and drugs from escaping into or out of a medical device. The seal design can range from basic O-rings to complex shapes. Static seals can be found in the broadest range of medical devices from pumps and blood separators to oxygen concentrators.

trocar design
New advances in trocar designs incorporating specialized seals allow multiple instruments to be inserted in the single trocar.

A reciprocating seal application with linear motion would include endoscopes that require trocar seals. These trocar seals are complex in design and allow the surgeon to insert and manipulate instruments to accomplish the medical procedure. These procedures range from relatively simple hernia repairs to the most difficult cardiac procedures. All of these minimally invasive surgeries employ endoscopes with seals that rely on seal stretch, durability and ability to retain shape during lengthy and arduous procedures. This particular seal application combines both reciprocating and rotary motion with the main function being linear motion.

A rotary seal application most commonly includes O-rings used to seal rotating shafts with the turning shaft passing through the inside dimension of the O-ring. Systems utilizing motors such as various types of scanning systems require rotary seals but there are many other non-motorized applications that also require rotary seals. The most important consideration in designing a rotary seal is the frictional heat buildup, with stretch, squeeze and application temperature limits also important.

Function of a particular seal design

What is the function of the seal? It is important to identify specifically if the design must seal a fluid and be impermeable to a particular fluid. Or will the seal transmit a fluid or gas, transmit energy, absorb energy and/or provide structural support of other components in device assembly. All of these factors and combinations need to be thoroughly examined and understood to arrive at successful seal design.

A seal’s operating environment

In what environment will a seal operate? Water, chemicals and solvents can cause shrinkage and deformation of a seal. It is important therefore to identify the short and long term effects of all environmental factors including oxygen, ozone, sunlight and alternating effects of wet/dry situations. Equally important are the effects of constant pressure or changing pressure cycle and dynamic stress causing potential seal deformation.

There are temperature limits in which a seal will function properly. Depending on the seal material and design, a rotary shaft seal generally would be limited to an operating temperature range between -30° F and +225°F. To further generalize, the ideal operating temperature for most seals is at room temperature.

Expected seal life – How long must the seal perform correctly?

Continue reading What to Know, Avoid, and Consider When Planning Seals for Medical Devices

VA179: Industry Leading High Temperature FKM

High Temperature FKM - VA179The O-Ring & Engineered Seals Division of Parker Hannifin Corporation, the global leader in motion and control technologies, recently announced the launch of VA179, a new extreme high temperature fluorocarbon (FKM) compound. VA179 is an innovative, 70 durometer rubber seal material providing increased high temperature limits while maintaining chemical resistance and low temperature sealing consistent with standard FKMs.

VA179 consists of a breakthrough rubber technology increasing the FKM continuous high temperature limit an additional 20°C (68ºF) over standard FKM materials on the market today. This provides a new industry sealing solution to long-term compression set issues for customers using traditional fluorocarbons and silicones.

“In markets such as aerospace, automotive, and heavy-duty, we are frequently challenged to expand the temperature capabilities of our rubber compounds,” says Nathaniel Sowder, aerospace, military and chemical processing business development engineer, O-Ring & Engineered Seals Division, “With the launch of VA179, we now have a solution that will reach higher temperatures without sacrificing the low temperature and chemical resistance attributes that make standard FKM such a popular choice.”

Continue reading VA179: Industry Leading High Temperature FKM

Rubber Energized Seals Webinar – Section 2

Gallagher recently recorded the Rubber Energized Seals webinar, discussing rubber energized rod or piston seals, and the advantages and disadvantages to using some of the most common seal profiles.  This webinar is presented in conjunction with one of our trusted partners, Eclipse Engineering, Inc.  Eclipse is a designer and manufacturer of high performance engineered polymer solutions.

This section of the webinar will discuss some of the more common profiles for rubber energized seals, including x-rings, u-cups, buffer rings, cap seals, etc.

To view the webinar in its entirety, visit our Resources page and fill out the form, or click on the image below.Rubber Energized Seals - Webinar

[VIDEO] NEW! Rubber Energized Seals Webinar

Rubber Energized SealsGallagher recently recorded the Rubber Energized Seals webinar, discussing rubber energized rod or piston seals, and the advantages and disadvantages to using some of the most common seal profiles.  This webinar is presented in conjunction with one of our trusted partners, Eclipse Engineering, Inc.

Continue reading [VIDEO] NEW! Rubber Energized Seals Webinar

O-Ring Selection Made Easy

Article re-posted with permission from Parker Hannifin Sealing & Shielding Team.
Original content can be found on Parker’s Blog.


O-Ring Selection Made Easy with the Parker O-Ring Selector

O-Ring Selector Tool - O-Ring Selection

Two things are equally important for the reliable performance of an O-Ring seal: the right size and the right material. Parker’s new O-Ring Selector is an engineering tool that enables users to make the right material and size selections easily, quickly and reliably – in a single application. The accuracy of the results ensures the desired performance of the O-Ring in the subsequent application. This is primarily based on the fact that both functionalities – the material selection and the O-Ring size calculation – are closely interlinked. This achieves a new quality in calculating the total sealing system.

Overview of the O-Ring Selector

The Parker O-Ring Selector is divided into three main sections:

  • Service Conditions & Material Selector
  • Size Selector
  • Notes

O-Ring Selector Tool - O-Ring Selection - Service Conditions & Material Selector

The Service Conditions & Material Selector section is focused on mapping the material-related application conditions. Entering the operating temperature range, the desired polymer family and/or material hardness will take the user to the suitable material selection. The Advanced Material Selector enables experienced users to specify the operating conditions in even greater detail. Here the medium to be sealed can be selected from a database containing 2,500 media. In addition, a search for required approvals and conformities can be run.

Continue reading O-Ring Selection Made Easy

NEW! Elastomer Failure Modes – Part 4

Failure ModesGallagher recently published its Failure Modes of Elastomers in the Semiconductor Industry White Paper, now available for download on our site.  This white paper discusses common issues that occur with elastomer seals in the semiconductor industry. The excerpt below is the fourth and final section of our new white paper, discussing Volatiles (offgassing) and Particle Generation.  To download the white paper in its entirety, visit our Resources Page, or click on the image to the right.


Failure Modes of Elastomers in the Semiconductor Industry

Failure ModesHigh performance elastomers are found in many applications in the semiconductor industry (see paper titled Perfluoroelastomers in the Semiconductor Industry). Though perfluoroelastomer (FFKM) seals are formulated to meet the highest performance requirements of integrated circuit (chip) manufacturers, even these elastomers can’t solve every sealing application nor will they last forever in service. Additionally, end users need to understand subtle performance differences between perfluoroelastomers in the same product line. For example, one product may be better at minimizing particle generation while another may be better for high temperature services.

Continue reading NEW! Elastomer Failure Modes – Part 4

Parker’s Rapid Prototype Program

Article re-posted with permission from Parker Hannifin Sealing & Shielding Team.
Original content can be found on Parker’s Blog.


Rapid Prototype ProgramThe O-Ring & Engineered Seals Division is now offering a rapid prototype program for solid and hollow spliced O-rings that will reduce lead times on small orders to improve sample and trial testing on enclosure projects. The program provides spliced rings available in a variety of cross sections and can be purchased in either solid or hollow profiles.

Spliced ring sizes

In the event that enclosure tolerances are large or the available compressive force is low, Parker engineers can design a custom hollow seal to help absorb large tolerances while providing very low compressive force compared to solid cord. Spliced rings with large inside diameters up to 95” are available in silicone and nitrile materials. Rings with inside diameters up to 57” are available in fluorocarbon. Cross sections of .070”, .103”, .139”, .210” .250” are regularly stocked and available to splice to the ring ID needed. The chart below outlines the current compounds, cross sections, and diameters available under the program.

Continue reading Parker’s Rapid Prototype Program