Seals and sealing solutions are essential in a wide range of industries. From petroleum to food processing industries, seals and gaskets help ensure that gas or liquid components are safely processed and without contaminants. Many of us may not be aware of these inconspicuous components, but they are essential to the continued operation of many industries. Without them, industries would have continuously struggled with leaks and contaminations.
To appreciate the vital role of seals in the industrial sector, we will share here four simple sealing solutions for industrial applications that remain useful today.
Gaskets perform a wide variety of sealing roles and are versatile types of seals. A simple definition of a gasket is any elastomeric material that covers the intersection or gap between two adjoined parts or surfaces. Gaskets primarily make the gap or joint fluid-tight or airtight and prevent the passage or escape of media across the gasket connection.
Most of us are familiar with what a petroleum plant looks like and the enormous and winding pipelines that facilitate the flow and transfer of oil and other petroleum products from one location to another. On the outside, we see pipelines operating smoothly and in good condition. Inside and somewhere between each of the interconnected pipelines is a specially designed spiral wound gasket that keeps leaks from happening and protecting the connections from contaminants. These gaskets are made of durable materials that can withstand tremendous pressures and extreme temperatures. It is no wonder why this type of gasket is applied in petrochemical, nuclear energy, oil and gas, and pharmaceutical industries.
PTFE or Teflon Seals
Another durable and versatile sealing solution found in a wide range of industrial applications is the PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) or Teflon seal. It has a high resistance to wear and corrosion and protects against atmospheric acids. It is easy to apply and has a low maintenance cost. It is used as O-rings, plugs, stoppers, and other types of seals. The protective properties of PTFE against aggressive chemicals and media contamination make it an ideal seal for industries in food and beverage processing, pharmaceutical, and water treatment.
Hydraulic and Pneumatic Seals
In the industrial setting, hydraulic seals separate fluids, while pneumatic seals separate gases. These seals are useful in sealing components with moving parts, especially those with reciprocating or rotary motions. Machines and other industrial components that have pistons and rods need hydraulic or pneumatic seals. The common types of hydraulic and pneumatic seals for components with piston or rod mechanisms are T-seals, O-rings, and rod seals. These seals are typically found in earth movers and excavators, agricultural machinery, amusement park machines, and coal mining equipment.
Power Transmission Seals
Perhaps the most widely used and least appreciated seals are power transmission seals. These are the seals used in vehicle engines, particularly in gearboxes. These seals are also used in actuators, linear motion devices, and other mechanical equipment to separate fluids, exclude contaminants, withstand pressure differences, and retain lubricants. Some examples of power transmission seals are bearing seals, oil seals, shaft seals, V-ring seals, and other seals typically found in vehicle engines and other types of power transmission equipment and devices.
Most of the sealing solutions we discussed here are hidden from plain sight but play vital roles in the mechanisms where they are placed. As industrial plants and applications are becoming more complicated, the need for effective sealing solutions becomes more urgent. Most simple sealing solutions are engineered and designed for durability to handle varying types of media, pressure variations, and temperature shifts. Whenever you see pipes and machines working smoothly with no signs of leakage, it means that they have a quality seal within them.