DETROIT – What do surgical instruments, engines on jet planes and pistons in car engines all have in common? If you answered, “They all have rubber seals,” give yourself a gold star.

Granted, you might not immediately think of rubber as being a key part of these three important products, but rubber is such a highly versatile and useful material, it has proven itself time and time again to be a reliable component in crucial pieces of equipment.

For owners of manufacturing companies, it might be daunting at first to know which type of rubber seal is best for their particular application needs. Fortunately, finding the best rubber seals for your company’s manufacturing needs is more than possible.

Understand What the Seals Will Be Required to Do

The first step in choosing the correct rubber seal is to understand what job it will have to do. In the case of medical seals that are used in surgical equipment, they must often stand up to medications, chemicals and bodily fluids. An example of this is a diaphragm seal used in an anesthesia machine that lets fluid flow within the device. The rubber o-rings and other seals used in this piece of equipment must be able to withstand these liquids, while also being safe to come in contact with human skin and tissue. 

In the case of the aerospace and automotive industries, the rubber seals will invariably be exposed to high pressure and great ranges of temperatures. Thus, selecting rubber seals that will continue to do their job regardless of whether it’s -50 degrees or 300 degrees Fahrenheit is imperative. Rubber is also used throughout an automotive engine, including the spark plugs, hoses, belts and within the engine.

Know Rubber Is Not Created Equally

Just as the rubber seals you use in your manufacturing will have different jobs to do, the material used to make each one is not the same. The term “rubber seal” encompasses a wide range of specific elastomers. For example, in the medical industry, liquid silicone rubber, ethelyne-propylene and Viton fluoroelastomer are all commonly used, due in large part to their resistance to heat and chemicals. For the aerospace industry, fluorosilicone is commonly used, due to its ability to withstand a wide range of temperatures from -75 to 400 degrees. In a car engine, nitrile o-rings, which also go by the name of Buna-N, are commonly utilized not only for their resistance to a range of temperatures, but also because they can stand up to a number of fluids like oil, gasoline and water.

Choose a Reputable Company for Your O-Ring Supplies

While it may be tempting at times to outsource overseas for some of your supplies in order to cut costs, this is not always the best choice. These types of vendors may actually end up costing you more money in the long run, due to slow shipping which can put a dent in your supply chain and cause delays in production. Instead, look for domestic companies that have the resources available to handle custom and bulk orders of high-quality seals with ease. This type of established company will also have experience with your specific industry and can help answer questions about which rubber is best for your manufacturing department.

Versatile and Hard-Working Rubber

Rubber seals are a crucial component of a number of industries. Once you understand what your specific seals will need to do, including the conditions they will withstand, it will be easier to select the specific type of seal. And, by working with a reputable company, you can rest assured that you will get the supplies you need in a timely fashion.

This article was submitted by Jenny Patel.