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7 Benefits of Low-Friction Plastic Seals in Automotive Critical Parts

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What a great experience our team had at the CTI Symposium in China! It’s always a wonderful opportunity to connect with our auto industry colleagues.  One question that often comes up at these events is about the benefits of low-friction plastic seals. Let’s review some highlights: 

Low wear = extended service life.  That’s a fact when it comes to automotive sealing solutions.  In an industry with mandates for lifetime confidence and zero tolerance for failure, wear-resistant plastic seals deliver in many applications, including automatic transmissions, oil and fuel pumps, braking systems and more.  

The automotive market is constantly innovating to remain competitive, while also working to meet strict environmental and safety regulations.  Yet as the market evolves, low-friction plastic seals are adapting just as quickly.  With new, custom designs and better tooling and testing techniques, seals are solving a range of problems to offer the following benefits: 

Key benefits of low-friction plastic seals: 

1. Lower fuel consumption and reduced emissions

Seals that are wear resistant also give extended performance, resulting in the plastic part lasting the entire lifetime of the transmission. 

2. Reduced wear

In the mid-1990s, metal sealing solutions were the norm for specific automotive components. However, metal-on-metal rubbing and friction caused fretting and accelerated wear issues. Seals from high-temperature thermoplastics offer a flexible, wear resistant solution that eliminates any metal-to-metal issues.

Today’s demanding applications like DCTs or planetary ATs would be impossible without thermoplastic seals. 

3. Less leakage

Plastic seals also promote indirect benefits to automotive design engineers.  They offer a rigid design which forms a tighter seal.  Given this lower leakage rate, manufacturers can reduce the size of their oil transmission pumps to increase overall fuel efficiency.  Lower leakage rates also promote a more environmentally-friendly automotive component. 

4. Non-corrosive materials

Plastic and polymer seals resist corrosive liquids such as oil and brake fluids.  Unlike metal seals, plastic seals excel in a demanding environment without rusting to give lifetime service confidence. 

5. Flexible design

Low-friction polymer seals can be customized and modified to meet the requirements of OEMs.  For example, the sealing injection molding process can incorporate different functions and material formulations; lubrication channels can be added and sizes can be customized.  Polymer materials offer very high flexibility in terms of the geometry for a unique part design.  Explore polymer powertrain solutions. 

6. Space saving property

Rectangular seals are commonly used on rotating actuators such as clutches and pistons.  This space-saving seal design has a thickness of only millimeters to give optimal design possibilities. Yet the thin design can easily accommodate speeds and pressures that cannot be sealed by traditional radial shaft or lip seals.

 7. Future technology adoption

As the automotive market continues to develop more electric and hybrid technology, low-friction plastics are ideal for dry-running parts in electric motors.  Unlike metal seals, polymers accommodate minimal counterfaces without surface treatments.  They accommodate a wide temperature range to withstand cooling and heating cycles, and are lightweight to help reduce drag. Low-friction seals excel for today’s traditional and hybrid automotive technology  

Where will you find low-friction plastics seals in automotive applications?
  • Braking: Assist components
  • Climate control: AC compressor components
  • Emissions: Solenoid valve cup seals
  • Engines: Oil pump components
  • Steering: EPS rings
  • Suspension: Air suspension cup seals
  • Transmission: DCT/ CVT rings

Plastic seals excel in friction reduction for a range of automotive applications.  Connect with our team to learn more about design options for your critical applications!  You can also see us live at  CTI Symposium in Berlin, Germany Booth EO2, this December 4-7!

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