Custom Seals: The Importance of In-House Design & Testing Capabilities

Fluid sealing is the unsung hero of many industrial applications, silently ensuring the smooth operation of machinery and systems across diverse sectors. While OEM sealing solutions suffice for some, there are instances where customized solutions are needed due to changes in performance requirements or use cases involving vast fluctuations in operating conditions.

In this blog, we'll look at custom fluid sealing and explore the importance of in-house design and testing capabilities when tailored solutions are needed.

Why Custom Seals?

Custom seals are not just designed to meet standard operating conditions; they are engineered to thrive in the most demanding environments imaginable. Whether it's withstanding extreme temperatures that range from scorching heat to freezing cold, working in situations with limited lubrication, or resisting the corrosive effects of harsh chemicals, custom seals are built to endure the harshest conditions with resilience and reliability.

Besides performance-related issues, custom seals can alleviate customer concerns related to high minimums and long lead times. At Ergoseal, we customize a full solution for our clients, including flexible minimums, blanket orders and stocking programs. Keeping sufficient quantities of their custom seals on the shelf ensures they’ll be able to meet their needs and manufacturing requirements without significant downtime. 

For example, Ergoseal recently took on a project involving a specialized commercial spiral cutter for French fries. This project, E-2410, involved sealing up a food processing system that consistently runs between 3,000 to 4,000 RPM while cutting fries into a helical shape. Ergoseal was able to design a custom mechanical seal to fit into their spiral cutter equipment’s narrow radial cross-section while meeting their seal performance requirements. Recent correspondence indicated the client is “seeing good results” and plans to move forward with their first multi-unit customer soon. Using Ergoseal’s services enabled them to get their fry machine to market quickly and with the knowledge that the seals were sufficient for this specialized use.

Many industries require the use of custom seals. For example, food (as mentioned) and beverage as well as personal care and pharmaceutical industries use sanitary twin screw pumps and other sanitary pumps that feature custom seals. Custom seals are also used in various specialty systems, such as weapons systems, novel HVAC systems, and pulverizing equipment. They’re also often necessary for relatively high-speed, high-pressure, and/or otherwise demanding pump, compressor, blower, fan, and turbine applications.

While standard sealing solutions suffice for many applications, there are times when OEM options fall short. Consider recent challenges we’ve seen at Ergoseal from customers needing:

  • Increasingly stringent leakage requirements
  • Similar performance requirements with increased pressure differential/shaft rotational speed
  •  Further development of a competitor’s legacy product offering via improved performance and customer service
  • Accommodation of more axial shaft movement during operation (axial shaft play) than was available with commercial-off-the-shelf options
  • Supporting existing customers with their new pump design projects that build on the success and cost-effectiveness of our existing seals
  • Allowing new customers to achieve their targeted prototype performance and delivery objectives

Ultimately, custom fluid sealing is not just a luxury; it's a necessity for industries where reliability, performance, and safety are non-negotiable. Your seal supplier needs to be able to take you through the entire custom process as efficiently (and painlessly!) as possible, and that requires an experienced engineering staff that can provide design services and conduct testing.   

The Importance of In-House Design Capabilities

In-house design capabilities are key to effective custom fluid sealing solutions. Being able to access the team working on your project easily makes the design process far more efficient than instances where engineering resources are off-site. By employing advanced CAD software and experienced engineering teams in-house, seal suppliers can adeptly translate customer specifications into workable solutions.

One of the biggest benefits of having an in-house design team is faster turnaround times.

Having engineers on staff speeds up the process, allowing information transfer and processing to and from customers quickly and efficiently,” explains Ergoseal Vice President of Engineering, Ryan Neris.

In addition to saving valuable time, in-house seal design affords greater flexibility and seamless collaboration between customers and designers to refine designs for optimal results.

At Ergoseal, our experienced engineering team works closely with clients to understand their challenges and develop innovative sealing solutions that address their unique needs. From high-pressure hydraulic systems to corrosive chemical environments, our custom seals are engineered with precision and reliability in mind, ensuring effective performance and longevity.

The Role of In-House Testing Capabilities

Designing a custom seal is only half the battle; ensuring its reliability and performance is equally important.

In collaboration with any customers involved, Ergoseal staff determines the goals and objectives of testing, including any specific safety requirements, schedule, budget, methods/apparatus, results, and reporting. With those goals in mind, we generate a test plan for review and approval.

If a new design is required, we prepare detailed layouts, drawings, BOMs, any design plans, piping and instrumentation diagrams, and other related items necessary for production. After components, including seals, are ready for assembly, any necessary shakedown and warm-up procedures are followed, and then the performance or endurance testing begins.

Acquired speed, pressure, temperature, and other data are continuously logged, and testing conditions are monitored regularly for normal operation along with any automatic shutdown and regulation controls. The results are analyzed for conclusions and recommendations and presented in a formal report.=

Benefits of in-house testing

In-house testing and validation capabilities allow suppliers to subject custom seals to rigorous performance tests, simulating real-world conditions such as pressure testing, running torque, power consumption, temperature fluctuation and distribution, and fluid migration. These tests provide invaluable insights into a seal's behavior and durability, allowing for refinements and optimizations before being used in the field.

“For example,” says Neris, “We simulate and predict the wear rate of the softer of two dynamic, contacting seal faces, which informs theoretical seal life before replacement. To predict fluid migration (and rule out excessive leakage), we simulate the deformation or taper of the faces under thermal and pressure loads. We also characterize the fluid behavior in the seal interface, to predict the possibility of vaporization, and crystallization.”

Much like design proficiency, using a supplier with in-house testing and validation capabilities is a win for customers. Doing so brings benefits such as cost savings, decreased turnaround or downtimes, and risk reduction.

“It can be cost-prohibitive for some customers to entertain performing their own testing without a clear, empirical demonstration that our seals will meet their requirements,” explains Neris. “In-house validation and testing capabilities allow our customers to justify their desire for a new and/or alternate source and proceed with our collaboration confidently.”

Case Studies

Let's take a closer look at some real-world examples we’ve experienced where in-house design and testing capabilities have made a significant difference. These case studies highlight the impact of tailored fluid sealing solutions on improving efficiency, reliability, and cost-effectiveness for customers.

  • Modifications to mitigate leakage for a defense industry client were quickly possible due to in-house design and testing.
  • When Gateway Engineering contacted Ergoseal for urgent assistance with their seal issues, we swiftly conducted testing and provided a tailor-made solution that met their needs.
  • Design innovation helped create a cost-effective version of a standard seal with seal face materials that met Pedro Gil’s requirements — all while solving a very noisy problem!

These case studies underscore the critical role of in-house engineering and on-site testing in delivering effective custom fluid sealing solutions. By leveraging engineering expertise and testing capabilities, we were able to swiftly diagnose issues, develop precise solutions, and ensure effective performance for our clients.


Choosing the Right Supplier

When selecting a fluid sealing supplier for your next project, consider the following: 

  • Precision Engineering: Does their engineering team leverage cutting-edge technology and expertise to develop custom sealing solutions tailored to your specific requirements? Having in-house engineers means shorter turnaround times and the opportunity to easily relay your needs to the designer, particularly if changes are needed.
  • On-site Testing: Can they conduct appropriate testing without sending the prototypes out or bringing in outside staff? With our state-of-the-art testing facilities, we rigorously test our custom seals to ensure peak performance and reliability in real-world conditions.
  • Seamless Integration: Whether you need custom seals for new equipment or replacement parts for existing machinery, our OEM solutions seamlessly integrate with your systems, delivering unmatched performance and longevity.

By partnering with a supplier that offers comprehensive services, you can ensure that your custom sealing needs are met with precision, reliability, and efficiency.

Final Thoughts

Ergoseal stands out as your ultimate partner for precision engineering and reliability. With in-house design and testing capabilities, suppliers can deliver tailored solutions that meet the unique needs of each application, driving efficiency, minimizing downtime, and maximizing value for customers.  

With the expertise and resources to develop custom seals that exceed your expectations, we can better ensure reliable performance in even the most demanding applications.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help address your custom sealing needs.