Hydraulic seals, which are a variety of mechanical seal, are ring-shaped components designed to prohibit or limit the leakage of fluid from a device in a pneumatic or hydraulic system. Most seals are made of soft, flexible elastomeric materials that exhibit superior air and water tight sealing abilities. They are vital components in moving machinery and without them, fluid power could not be effectively converted into linear motion.
There are two main types of hydraulic seals: static, which seals within a confined space like a gasket, and dynamic, which is exposed to movement on its inner diameter, usually around a shaft of some kind. Dynamic hydraulic seals, also called shaft seals, include rod seals and piston seals, which are hydraulic cylinder seals that keep pressurized liquids contained within the cylinder and contaminants and air from getting inside. These seals are made with a lip that provides superior sealing while being exposed to linear movement. Lip Seals are made of many different elastomeric materials, including polymers, plastics and rubbers, and they are effective in providing a seal in revolving machinery and equipment. These are called rotary seals. Rubber seals, particularly Teflon seals, are generally the most widely used because of their strength, durability and resistance to chemicals, moisture and high temperatures. Bonded seals are composed of an elastomeric seal that is adhered to a metal washer for high pressure applications. Many hydraulic systems use oil as hydraulic fluid. They use oil seals (or metric oil seals outside of the United States) that are made of resistant materials like Teflon, silicone, polyacrylate or a fluroelastomer that can handle continuous exposure to oil. Without sealing devices, hydraulic systems would completely fail and cause the machinery they power to become unusable. While they are reliable and last for a long time, regular maintenance checks ensure the seals' extended performance.Various types of seals are used in applications that have constantly moving equipment, such as the rotating or reciprocating shafts and cylinders that are an essential part of hydraulic and pneumatic systems. Devices that use seals include hydraulic rams, presses and mixers, brake devices, valves, clean rooms, conveyors and test equipment. The most common place to find these seals, however, is in a hydraulic cylinder. Hydraulic cylinders use water, oil or other pressurized fluids to facilitate the movement of heavy machinery. Construction equipment, agricultural vehicles and forestry machinery all use hydraulic systems to power their moving parts. The seals are located in the piston, on the cylinder head or on the rod shaft. They are used to prevent the hydraulic fluid from flowing across the piston, from leaking past the interface between the rod and the head and to keep it from leaking to the outside of the cylinder. They also provide a degree of lubrication and decrease metal-to-metal contact and friction. Wear rings are another type of sealing device, as well as rod wipers. They are used to prevent contaminants from entering the cylinder when the extended rod retracts back.
The distinctive types of sealing positions and directions that are used for hydraulic and pneumatic seals are axial seals, rod or internal seals, external or symmetric seals and piston seals. The sealing direction is important for hydraulic seals and pneumatic seals in mechanisms that use axial movement, such as cylinders and pistons. Because the action may be single or double, a seal can be used for one or two directions. One of these types, the rod seal, is radial and is press fitted into the housing bore. Another, the axial seal, has the function to axially seal an adjoining housing or other mechanical component. When purchasing hydraulic seals, there are some important factors to consider, such as the diameter of the housing bore and the inner or outer seal, the dimension of the outer shaft and the axial or radial cross section needed for the application. Also, it is important to consider certain operating parameters like the working temperature, vacuum rating and highest working speed and pressure. There are many types of hydraulic seals for different uses in applications. Some of the industries that make use of these seals include medical and pharmaceutical products development, waste disposal, aerospace manufacturing, marine products manufacturing, food and chemical processing, automotive manufacturing, defense contracting, nuclear power and pulp and paper mills.Hydraulic seal manufacturers generally fabricate seals from rubber or metal, and in some cases leather or felt. Some of the rubber materials used to create seals are nitrile, silicone, natural rubber, butyl and styrene butadiene. Metals used to make the washers in bonded seals include stainless steel, aluminum, brass, bronze and carbon steel, all of which are often galvanized or plated for extra strength and protection against oxidation. Most elastomeric seals are made via extrusion, while Teflon seals are sintered in an oven from powder form, since Teflon cannot melt. Those that are bonded to metal washers use a bonding chemical to create a permanent and strong bond between the rubber material and metal. Different kinds of hydraulic seals exist for numerous purposes and applications. Oil seals are common hydraulic seals. They are used to retain oil and other lubricants in rotary applications and prevent leaks. Many of these operate with a flexible lip that rubs against the shaft or housing to provide a tight seal against leakage. Mechanical seals are used in applications that have a rotating shaft under a state of high pressure, temperature and speed. These hydraulic seals are used to prohibit fluid leakage for such mechanisms as agitators, pumps, mixers and cryogenic seals. Hydraulic seal manufacturers create many products that are application specific and specially designed to prevent leaks under very particular circumstances.
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- A material's resistance to the surface loss caused by frictional forces.
- A state in which two surfaces are bonded together through interfacial forces.
- Motion along an axis or parallel to the center line of a shaft.
- A component made from corrugated plastic or rubber around a shaft that has the ability to stretch.
- A list of all materials needed to manufacture a certain product.
- A change of appearance in rubber, resulting from a solid or liquid material moving towards the surface. Bloom resembles surface dust.
- The tendency of a material to crack under deformation.
- A material's property of being able to conduct/transmit electricity.
- The view of an o-ring when cut at a right angle to the axis, which shows its interior construction.
- Used in a hydraulic or pneumatic cylinder to exclude or scrape the rod clean.
- A material's ability to move in a mold during the molding process.
- The resistance to motion when two surfaces are in contact.
- Occurs when a material's surface reacts with oxygen, usually causing a change in the appearance or texture of the surface.
- A conical rubber component pressed into a hole or tube to finalize a seal.
- The measure of small holes in a material.
- A material's ability of returning to its original state after deformation.
- The tendency of a material to contract while cooling.
- A ring with flat sides to provide specific dimensional spacing between two components.
- The resistance of a material to flow under stress.
- Round, flat rings used as spacers, gaskets or slip devices under the head of a bolt.