Oil seals, also known as grease or dirt seals, are an essential component of many machines and pieces of industrial equipment. An oil seal is designed to retain grease in a case or housing and close the gaps between stationary and moving components in pieces of machinery.
An example of this in the automotive industry is the seals within gear boots that enclose a car’s CV axles. Of course, there are many different applications across industries in which oil seals prevent the escape of vital lubricants and ensure the continued smooth operation of the machine in question.
Guidelines for Proper Use of Oil Seals
To function properly, seals must be utilized according to a narrow set of operational parameters. Oil seals have two basic functions that keep a piece of machinery running:
Seals fill voids or gaps between stationary and moving components of a mechanical system. This allows for the retention of crucial lubricating oils, greases, or other elements within the housing where the seal is attached. In turn, these lubricants let the machinery continue to operate smoothly.
Seals double as a protective barrier against outside contaminants, such as water, rust particles, particulates, and other substances that are potentially harmful to the mechanical components located behind the seal.
When selecting the correct oil seal for your application, it is important to match the right elastomer compound to your machinery’s use case. There are several variables to consider, such as:
Normal operating temperature
Operating temperature limits under unusual circumstances
Type of lubricant used
Shaft and housing tolerances
External environmental factors
It is vital to select the correct elastomer compound for your oil seal with these considerations in mind. Elastomers unsuitable for their end applications could lead to corrosive water, abrasive particles, or other harmful contaminants entering into the mechanical equipment’s housing, and causing severe damage to the machinery. Thus, a careful analysis of your application’s specific operational parameters, as well as the machinery’s external environment, is critical when selecting a durable and useful oil seal.
For many industrial applications, nitrile is the top choice due to its exceptional resistance to abrasion. The second most common elastomer is fluoro-elastomer, due to its excellent chemical and heat-resistance capabilities.
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