As a market development manager, I have the great opportunity of communicating with many of our customers about the true differences between typical elastomer O-ring seals and our OmniSeal® product. We discuss the pros and cons of each product, because very often, spring-energized seals and elastomer O-rings are both options for an application solution. Ultimately, we agree that the choice should be dictated by the application and operating environment.
With this in mind, the critical question then becomes, “How challenging is your application?”
Elastomer O-ring seals usually rely on the elasticity of elastomeric materials to provide good sealing. They excel in static applications with reasonable pressure and temperature demands. In the right environment and operating conditions, elastomer O-rings present a good sealing value.
However, when your application calls for sealing aggressive media, standard elastomer O-rings can quickly lose their properties. They can become brittle, which can often lead to failure. Chemicals with high, toxic concentrations can accelerate the degradation of the elastomer material. In past years, all attempts from the elastomer industry to develop more chemical-resistant materials have led to some quite expensive solutions.
Beyond chemical attributes, it is also important to consider pressure, temperature ranges and cycling. When applications approach very-high pressures (20K PSI) or cryogenic temperatures, elastomer O-rings cannot be used as a viable option. On the other hand, OmniSeal® spring-energized seals are specially designed for these rigorous conditions.
OmniSeal® seals consist of a polymer jacket material encapsulating an energizer which is made from a metallic spring. This spring combination can resist all aggressive media while maintaining resilience and sealing force even in high pressures and low temperatures. Did you know that our OmniSeal® seals were originally developed for use in cryogenic liquid propellants in rocket engine applications? This is one of the most challenging environments. While elastomer O-rings are limited to -50° C, OmniSeal® seals can work at temperatures as low as -254°C … quite a significant difference!
Another important thing to remember is that elastomer O-ring seals were designed for standard groove dimensions, which could be considered a design limitation when developing any new system or equipment. OmniSeal® spring-energized seals are dimensioned for virtually any kind of groove, since the manufacturing process (machining) offers freedom of design. Custom design is the standard way of working with our OmniSeal® product.
Another benefit of an OmniSeal® design is storage longevity. Because they have metal energizers and polymer materials, the seals have a much longer shelf life than elastomer O-rings and are less demanding in terms of controls or material aging. A specific case comes to my mind relating to the oil and gas industry. We supplied OmniSeal® seals for subsea valves where specifications called for a minimum of 25-year service lifetime. That duration is far beyond the capabilities of a standard elastomer O-ring.
Among the different sealing solutions available in the market, the OmniSeal® product offers one of the highest added value for critical applications. Benefits are calculated in many ways, such as longer lifetime, and savings in downtime failure, operation time, and maintenance requirements.
From its original beginnings in the aerospace market, OmniSeal® spring-energized seals have grown to encompass applications in oil and gas, life sciences, automotive, and other industrial applications. It’s the logical, precise fit choice for a range of high-performance applications. Explore the OmniSeal® product portfolio for detailed specifications.
Should you choose elastomer O-rings or OmniSeal® sealing solutions for your next application challenge? They each have a place in the market. Our Experts can help guide you to the right solution.