JÄGER Busi­ness Blog

How to select the appro­pri­ate
gas­ket mate­r­i­al for the construction

15.09.2021   |   Tim Panster

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Seals are often treat­ed step­moth­er­ly in prod­uct devel­op­ment. When­ev­er there is a risk of for­eign sub­stances pen­e­trat­ing or escap­ing some­where, the design depart­ment plans a seal. Few design­ers give much thought to the spe­cif­ic design of the com­po­nent. 

This approach can cause prob­lems because the mate­r­i­al has a major impact on the reli­a­bil­i­ty and ser­vice life of a seal. If it is made of the wrong mate­r­i­al for the appli­ca­tion, the seal will fail soon­er or lat­er and, in the worst case, shut down the entire plant. The con­se­quences are pro­duc­tion down­times and high fol­low-up costs. Design­ers should there­fore ensure that they select the right gas­ket mate­r­i­al in advance.

Each gas­ket mate­r­i­al has spe­cif­ic properties

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, there is no uni­ver­sal mate­r­i­al that cov­ers all poten­tial appli­ca­tions. Each mate­r­i­al has cer­tain prop­er­ties that have dif­fer­ent effects depend­ing on the scenario.

Some mate­ri­als are extreme­ly resis­tant to mechan­i­cal stress­es and fea­ture good com­pres­sion set and high tear strength. Oth­ers are high­ly tem­per­a­ture resis­tant and retain their prop­er­ties even in extreme heat or cold. Some mate­ri­als are insen­si­tive to var­i­ous sub­stances or media with which they come into con­tact: Grease, min­er­al oil, gaso­line, sol­vents, var­i­ous acids or bases, etc. Still oth­ers are resis­tant to UV light or ozone and do not become porous under their influ­ence. There are also dif­fer­ences in terms of elec­tri­cal con­duc­tiv­i­ty. Some mate­ri­als have an insu­lat­ing effect and oth­ers are elec­tri­cal­ly con­duc­tive.

Depend­ing on the mate­r­i­al, the prop­er­ties of a seal can vary great­ly. The chal­lenge is to select the right one from the quan­ti­ty of avail­able mate­ri­als. There is a suit­able mate­r­i­al for every scenario.

Tip 

If you want to know which mate­ri­als are resis­tant or sus­cep­ti­ble to which media, you can refer to our resis­tance list for elas­tomers. You can also find fur­ther infor­ma­tion in our JÄGER Wiki .

The appli­ca­tion range of the seals is decisive

The media with which a seal reg­u­lar­ly comes into con­tact depends on the area of appli­ca­tion. It is there­fore enor­mous­ly impor­tant to ana­lyze the gen­er­al con­di­tions thor­ough­ly before select­ing the gas­ket mate­r­i­al. A large part of the con­tact media results from the pri­ma­ry area of appli­ca­tion. For exam­ple, a gas­ket in a vehi­cle engine must be resis­tant to gaso­line and machine oil and tol­er­ate heat well. 

How­ev­er, it is risky to derive gas­ket mate­r­i­al require­ments from design draw­ings alone. The con­text of use is also rel­e­vant. 

For exam­ple, a machine that is oper­at­ed out­doors is often exposed to direct sun­light. This means that its seals must not become porous when exposed to UV light and ozone. The expect­ed out­door tem­per­a­tures also play a role. If the machine is out­doors dur­ing the win­ter months, its seals must be able to with­stand sub-zero tem­per­a­tures. In sum­mer, on the oth­er hand, some loca­tions can reach rel­a­tive­ly high temperatures.

Seal­ing ring when used incor­rect­ly and correctly

How­ev­er, the require­ments placed on a seal are not nec­es­sar­i­ly sta­t­ic. It is entire­ly pos­si­ble that the area of appli­ca­tion of a machine or sys­tem will change over time. 

In such cas­es, all seals would actu­al­ly have to be put to the test again. How­ev­er, not all com­pa­nies take the trou­ble to ana­lyze their equip­ment con­cep­tu­al­ly when the area of appli­ca­tion changes. Often, the analy­sis remains super­fi­cial. This can have a neg­a­tive impact on the ser­vice life of the seals.

Costs also play a role

The deci­sion in favor of a par­tic­u­lar seal­ing mate­r­i­al does not take place in a vac­u­um. Apart from resis­tance, there are numer­ous oth­er rel­e­vant prop­er­ties. 

Mate­r­i­al costs in par­tic­u­lar often play a major role. Some com­pa­nies delib­er­ate­ly opt for seals that have a short­er ser­vice life but are sig­nif­i­cant­ly less expen­sive. Finan­cial­ly, it can be well worth replac­ing a gas­ket on a reg­u­lar basis rather than using a long-last­ing but more expen­sive one. Pre­cise­ly because seals are not part of the pri­ma­ry intend­ed use of a machine or sys­tem, they reg­u­lar­ly suf­fer as costs are reduced. 

How­ev­er, using low­er qual­i­ty seals can cause prob­lems. For exam­ple, the ser­vice life of the machine or sys­tem also depends on the reli­a­bil­i­ty of the seal mate­r­i­al. If for­eign mate­r­i­al leaks or pen­e­trates in the wrong place, func­tion­al­i­ty or oper­a­tional safe­ty may be com­pro­mised. This can result in high repair costs and pro­duc­tion down­time. 

If the prob­lem occurs with cus­tomers, the company’s rep­u­ta­tion may even suf­fer. Design­ers should always con­sid­er this risk when choos­ing a seal­ing material.

In sum­ma­ry

Many design­ers regard seals as sim­ple aux­il­iary mate­ri­als and pay too lit­tle atten­tion to them. How­ev­er, there are numer­ous aspects to con­sid­er when select­ing a seal­ing mate­r­i­al. If the mate­r­i­al is suit­able for the area of appli­ca­tion of a machine or sys­tem, this has a pos­i­tive effect on its ser­vice life. How­ev­er, if the design choos­es the wrong mate­r­i­al, the seal has to be replaced more fre­quent­ly — the risk of machine fail­ure increas­es. It is there­fore worth­while to con­sid­er more than just cost when choos­ing a seal material. 

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Author: Tim Panster

Tim Panster joined Jäger in 2019 as a sales rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the Essen loca­tion. In 2020, he com­plet­ed his Mas­ter of Sci­ence in Indus­tri­al Engi­neer­ing at the FOM Uni­ver­si­ty of Eco­nom­ics & Management.

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