Why PTFE Rotary Seals vs normal rubber?


Why PTFE Rotary Seals vs Normal Rubber?

Whitepapers On Whiteboard







Jason Huff



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Today we’re going to talk about PTFE rotary seals.

PTFE is more commonly known in the industry as Teflon, but today we’re going to refer to it as PTFE because Teflon is the DuPont trade name. Reasons we would choose to use PTFE over your normal rubber elastomer style seal would be that we’ve exceeded the capabilities. Whether it be speed, pressure, temperature, and maybe the chemicals that it meets. PTFE is a very low friction material – so it’s able to operate at very high speeds.

It’s got a very broad temperature range. Virgin PTFE can handle ranges from -425 Fahrenheit up to 450 Fahrenheit and we can even shift that range a little higher depending on the fillers that we add to it. So, it can handle a wide range of temperatures and basically any fluid or chemical that you throw at it.

High Speed, Low Pressure Profile

For this one, we’ve got very lightly loaded and very flexible lips that are machined. They’re very lightly engaged, so we need a shaft that runs very true – no runout because PTFE is not a very resilient material. It needs some form of energizer in order to make sure that it remains in contact with the shaft.

So with this profile here, we’re going to be limited to about 50 psi, but we can run up to about 5,000 surface feet per minute for speeds. We have an excluder and then the main lip to retain the fluid.


We can change that a little bit – we could do away with that lip and possibly add a redundant lip for fluid retention.

If we had additional pressure, we could reinforce this a little bit with a metal band – increasing the rigidity of it. We could increase the pressure rating of up to 150 psi.

If we did have a little bit of runout that we needed to handle we could modify this lip a little bit and include what we call an “elf toe”. And then we could add a small spring to help the lip maintain contact with the shaft. But still, the runout must be minimal. We’re talking about maybe 20 thousandths depending on the speed.

High Pressure, Low Speed Profile

If we shift gears and go over to this other style, we’re looking at high pressure but relatively low speed.

The pressure rating on this profile would be about 3,000 PSI and your surface speed is going to be limited to about 1,000 surface feet per minute.


We’ve got quite a few different options as far as lip styles:

We can do a traditional scraper lip, which is good at scraping fluid and keeping contaminants out.

We could change the lips style to a taper and that’s going to be better for sealing and lower friction.

Several different spring options:

– I’ve got the cantilever or V Springs shown in there right now.

– Another option would be a canted coil if we wanted to reduce the lip loading a little bit.

And we’ve got several different options for the bore:

We could eliminate this o-ring and do a flanged design. This flange would get clamped in the hardware and ensures that the seal cannot rotate in the bore and allows you to increase your speed rating just a little bit.

If we needed to go higher than the 3,000 PSI for pressure, we could extend this heal a little bit. It makes it a lot more rigid, a lot more stable profile. So, in something like this, there would be an o-ring in there as well. This could bump our pressure rating up to close to 10,000 PSI.

So, we’ve got a wide range of possibilities with PTFE and we can tailor the fillers depending on the application conditions and the performance criteria needed. There’s a wide range of additives that we can put in the PTFE to tailor to the needs.


Wide range of applications that these seals can be used in:

  • A lot of times you’ll see them in gearboxes or motors
  • Pressure washers for when we’ve got high pressure
  • Rotary unions
  • Swivels
  • Compressors
  • The Virgin PTFE is FDA compliant. So it’s a good option for those types of applications.
  • Cryogenics due to the wide temperature range
  • Robotics

Another benefit of PTFE versus a rubber elastomer seal is that there’s no tooling required for these. These get machined out of a sleeve or billet of material. So prototyping and initial samples are very fast and inexpensive.

And that’s it for PTFE seals.



The Importance of the PV Value


The Importance of the PV Value When Selecting A Seal

Whitepapers On Whiteboard







Jason Huff



Pressure velocity, or PV value, is the combination of the pressure of the application and the speed of either the rotating or reciprocating shaft. The PV limit is the maximum value of that combination where the seal will function and wear normally. If we exceed that value, we’re going to see excessive wear which will lead to sealing failure.

There are several factors to consider when selecting a seal. Each factor has a direct impact on the performance and lifespan of your application. One of the most significant, but often overlooked, is the pressure-velocity, or PV, of your seal.

Jason Huff spends some time defining pressure-velocity, the calculations, and walking through examples to show its significance.

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When selecting a seal, there are several factors that we need to consider. Including pressure, speed, temperature, the media you’re trying to seal, the hardness, and surface finish of the mating hardware.

And arguably one of the most important things that we need to take into consideration is the PV value or pressure velocity.

This is the combination of the pressure of the application and the speed of either the rotating or reciprocating shaft. The PV limit is the maximum value of that combination where the seal will function and wear normally. If we exceed that value, we’re going to see excessive wear which will lead to sealing failure.


Reciprocating PV Calculation

For a reciprocating application, to calculate the PV value:
– take the stroke length in feet
– multiply that by the cycle rate in cycles per minute
– multiply that by the pressure in PSI


Reciprocating Example


If we had an application that had a stroke length of 3-inches and a cycle rate of 80 cycles per minute and a pressure of 600 PSI:
– 600 PSI should be no problem for a quad ring
– A u-cup will handle 600 PSI – no problem
– And then obviously these two versions of a cap seal can handle 600 PSI

The issue becomes when we combine that with the speed of 80 cycles per minute, which is fast for a reciprocating application.

We’re going to take our:
– three-inch stroke length divide that by 12 to get it in feet
– multiply that by 2 to capture the entire distance traveled
– multiply the 80 cycles per minute
– multiply 600 PSI

That puts our PV value at 24,000.

When we reference our seal selection chart you can see both the quad ring and u-cup are no longer viable options and we’re going to have to stick to one of these cap seal options.


Rotary PV Calculation


Similarly, if we want to calculate the PV value for a rotary application, we’re going to take:
– the circumference of our shaft in feet
– multiply that by the speed in RPM
– multiply that by the pressure in PSI


Rotary Example


If we had a 2-inch diameter shaft, and it was rotating at 1500 RPM and a pressure of 30 PSI:
– 1500 RPM for a traditional rotary lip seal – no problem
– A Flexi-lip or PTFE lip seal – no problem
– The same with these spring energized PTFE seals

Now that we have to consider 30 PSI that automatically puts are rotary lip seal out because that’s exceeding its max range – 30 PSI for the PTFE lip seal is no problem. Not a problem for the spring energized PTFE seals either.

But, when we combine the two:

– our 2-inch shaft divided by 12 so that we’re in units of feet
– multiply that by pi to get the circumference
– multiply 1500 RPM
– multiply 30 PSI

That puts our PV value at 23,562.

Again, now it eliminates those first two options as being acceptable seals.



It’s very important to not only consider the pressure and velocity independently – we need to combine the two so that we get a true understanding of what the seal is going to see in application.

Shaft Lead A.K.A “Twist”


Shaft Lead A.K.A “Twist”

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Andrew Rommann



For optimum performance of seals, the shaft surface texture must be optimal. A rough surface texture will cause the seal to wear out quickly, while a smooth texture will cause the seal to bed incorrectly. The shaft lead, also called twist, is formed during the manufacture of shafts and has to be ideally zero.

Andrew Rommann explains the different types of shaft lead, what it does to a sealing system, and methods to measure.

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Shaft lead also known as twist. Shaft lead, if not well understood and defined on your specifications, can have a detrimental impact to the performance of a dynamic sealing system.

Typical rotary applications have an elastomeric sealing element interfacing with a rotating shaft. On the shaft surface, the characteristics are very important and critical to the proper operation of the sealing system.  One of those characteristics is shaft lead.


Macro Shaft Lead

A typical manufacturing process may be the use of a single point tool against a rotating shaft where the tools actually traversing the surface of the shaft. This operation will result in a spiraling groove pattern around the circumference of the shaft. In this type of pattern, we refer to it as macro lead – has a continuous thread-like structure.


Micro Shaft Lead

An alternative process maybe traverse grinding.

In this case, we don’t have a single point tool rather a stone with multiple points that contact the rotating shaft. The stone is still traversing along the surface of the shaft and it does result in micro lead. The threadlike structures are not continuous, but they do have a deviation from the circumferential direction of the surface of the shaft resulting in shaft lead.


Two Orientations of Shaft Lead

Shaft lead can have two orientations. It can be a right-hand orientation. Where it’s shown here on the moving from the bottom right to the top left corner of the image and left-hand lead where you’re actually the threadlike pattern is from the bottom left to the top right.


Results In A Sealing System

So what does this do in a sealing system?

Again, in a rotary sealing system, we have an elastomeric sealing element that is interfacing with a rotating shaft.

If we look closer at the surface of the shaft and in this illustration, I actually have drawn a right-hand lead type structure. We can see where the oil is in contact with the shaft surface and the sealing lip.

As the shaft rotates depending on the direction of rotation, it will actually transport oil from left to right or right to left. Because this is right-hand twist if we have a right-hand rotation – so the top of the shaft moving towards the bore – we will actually end up with movement of the oil from left to right. So in this case out of the sealed system resulting in leakage.

If we have left-hand rotation, so in this case, the top of the shaft moving out away from the bore you will result in movement from right to left. So left-hand transport. This will help retain the oil in the system.

However, if it’s aggressive enough transportation of the oil it will actually result in a lack of proper lubrication at the interface between the sealing lip and the shaft surface could lead to premature wear of the sealing lip.


Twist, Rotation, Transport

 So again right-hand twist right-hand rotation – the transport is to the right. A right-hand twist with a left-hand rotation – the transportation is to the left.


String Method & Optical Method

So how can we measure and hopefully quantify shaft lead on an actual physical component? There are two major categories out there. There are a lot of different methods developed over the years, but the oldest and most well-known method is referred to as the string method or the thread method.

In this method, you mount a shaft in a rotating device. You drape a thread with a weight attached to it over the shaft. From the side view as you slowly rotate the shaft you may observe movement to the left or to the right from its original position.

If you do observe movement, you are observing that the shaft likely has lead. You cannot easily and precisely quantify accurately the amount of lead that exists in the shaft, but you can get a qualitative sense of whether or not you have left-hand or right-hand shaft lead.

A more precise and accurate method of measurement is using an optical method. In an optical method, you are creating a 3D mapping or 3D profiling of the entire surface of the shaft.

Software can then collect the data and process it to produce a representation of the effective shaft lead of the system.

The image on the left you can see as you move in the circumferential direction from 0 to 360 Degrees. You actually have axial movement along the shaft. In the one on the right-hand side you can see as you move from 0 to 360 Degrees, you actually have zero movement along the axial position of the shaft. This one we would refer to as having right hand lead this one having zero lead.

Using the optical methods, you can get a precise and accurate quantification of the lead angle, which can be useful when you are inspecting or qualifying components for a new product.


Industry Specifications

Some of the specifications that exist and are used in the industry that you may see include ISO 6194 – 1 and DIN 3760. Both of which specify zero lead. RMA OS-1-1 actually does tolerate lead to a very small level.

There are other specifications out there. There are also specifications that exist for most major OEMs where they have expanded on the information that’s available in the industry standard specifications.




The main thing to remember is that if you are not aware of what your tolerances for shaft lead in your sealing system, or you’re not aware of what your actual lead is, you could end up with performance issues that are not easy to identify the root cause.

And in many cases we find that in a situation where you’re not able to identify the root cause of a sealing system failure in a rotating system – if it’s not a tribute attributable to the elastomeric seal or to other obvious installation design issues – in some cases it’s actually result of the presence of lead that is hard to detect and again not very well understood.

Features of Radial Shaft Seals


Features of Radial Shaft Seals (One Lip, Two Lip, Red Lip, Blue Lip)

Whitepapers On Whiteboard



1 of 5




Andrew Rommann



Rotary shaft seals, also known as lip seals, are used to seal rotary elements. Deciding on the type of radial shaft seal is a challenging process that requires selecting specific seal design characteristics to match the system parameters.

Today let’s dive into the basics; the components and materials that make these complex seals.


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Going to talk today about features of radial shaft seals. A radial shaft seal is a component typically employed to seal in fluids and seal out contaminants in a dynamic application. Typical features include:

    • the main sealing lip
    • a metal stamping that serves as a substrate for the elastomer to be bonded to and also provides rigidity to the component when it’s installed in the application
    • a garter spring on the main sealing lip that supplements the elastomer and the radial sealing force
    • sometimes we employ what’s known as adust lip to keep out light contaminants that may try to ingress into the application.




A radial shaft seal is typically installed in this orientation with the main sealing lip facing inward towards the oil or the fluid being sealed in.

It’s installed in the stationary bore as a press-fit and it has the main lip and the dust lip engaging the rotating shaft.



Some of the major considerations to make for selection of material include the temperature, the speed, the fluid, and the pressure of the application you are being sealed in.

The most important thing to remember is you need to understand all of the parameters of your application when requesting or working with an engineer to provide a recommendation for the proper radial shaft seal for the application. There are a wide variety of materials, profiles, and other parameters that can be adjusted to customize a radial shaft seal for your application.