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Home - News - Choosing the Right Seal Face Material: Ensuring Longevity and Performance of Mechanical Seals

Choosing the Right Seal Face Material: Ensuring Longevity and Performance of Mechanical Seals

May 22, 2023

The durability of mechanical seals heavily relies on the selection of appropriate seal face materials. When determining the lifespan of a seal, it is crucial to consider the operating environment it will be exposed to. For abrasive environments, it is essential to choose seal faces that can withstand wear and tear. Opting for a cheaper seal may lead to higher costs in the long run when the seal needs to be replaced. However, if the application involves pumping clean fluids with lubricating properties like machine oil or Ethylene Glycol, investing in higher quality bearings may be a wiser choice.

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Seal faces are available in various materials. Common types include carbon, ceramic, Ni-resist, 17-4, silicon carbide, tungsten carbide, and GFPTFE (glass-filled PTFE, commonly known as Teflon®). Another category includes coated seal faces, where plasma coatings of silicon or tungsten carbide are applied to a stainless steel seal head. However, in our opinion, these coatings are not recommended as they eventually wear off and require complete reapplication. In contrast, worn silicon carbide or tungsten carbide seal faces can often be reconditioned through re-lapping and polishing, effectively extending their usability.

 

Here are some details about specific seal face materials:

 

Ceramic: With excellent wear resistance and chemical inertness, ceramic seals, typically made of 99.5% aluminum oxide, are suitable for various applications. However, they are prone to shattering if dropped on concrete and cannot handle thermal shocks as well as Ni-resist or 17-4 materials.

 

Silicon Carbide: This bluish-black material, formed by fusing silica and coke, offers superior lubrication qualities and hardness compared to ceramics. The most common type is reaction-bonded silicon carbide, but in chemical applications, alpha sintered silicon carbide may be recommended. Both types can generally be reconditioned through re-lapping and polishing.

 

Tungsten Carbide: Similar to silicon carbide, tungsten carbide is a versatile seal face material. It is hard, easily distinguishable from silicon carbide due to its weight, and suitable for high-pressure applications. Tungsten carbide can also be reconditioned through re-lapping and polishing.

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Ni-resist: This form of stainless steel with added nickel reduces friction and is an economical option suitable for fresh water applications.

 

GFPTFE: Glass-filled PTFE, commonly known as Teflon®, combines the chemical resistance of PTFE with added glass for hardness and prevention of cold flow issues associated with pure PTFE.

 

Choosing the right seal face material is crucial for ensuring the longevity and performance of mechanical seals in various operating conditions.