How Do Gaskets Differ from Sealing Washers?

09 July 2018

Clear differences divide gaskets and conventional washers. The former item uses strong materials to mechanically seal flanges. As for the latter item, washers are typically used to spread fastener loads and to counteract vibrations. That’s good to know, except sealing washers, the subject of this post, don’t quite fit into that latter category. No, this washer family shares gasketing features, but they’re not gaskets.

Reviewing Gasket Roles 

A gasket is carefully placed around an opening of some type. Whether the perimeter of that opening is in an engine block or the flanges of a pressurized pipe, the seal fulfils its role as a fluid constraining device. The loop of circular or shaped material can be manufactured from some durable elastomeric material, from metal, or even from a combination of the two, but its role is still very clear. Compressive loads bear down on the seal, the material endures unimaginable fluid pressures, and that’s the job done. Sealing washers are different, even though they also possess fluid-stoppering talent.

Multipurpose Sealing Washers 

Here’s a washer family that also uses a malleable surface to constrain fluids, but that’s just one of the several features we discover when using a sealing washer. In truth, they’re composites. On top of the washer, a strong metal backing spreads fastener loads. Underneath that hardened ring, a second ring, perhaps made of EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) or Silicone, delivers face-sealing strength. They’re structural accessories, which means they’re capable of anchoring a surface while they also seal that same plated object. Beyond those two key product characteristics, sealing washers also use their synthetic rubber faces to attenuate vibrations.

Some Design Differences 

Gaskets are clearly designed to endure high fluid pressures, plus they’re known to assume countless geometrically complex profiles. Tough fibres and metals and synthetic rubbers are processed into layered rings, and those rings are compressed between pipe flanges. That’s a standard gasket application, but then there are engine gaskets, hydraulic seals, and more. Sealing washers stick to a tried-and-trusted circular profile. However, they’re partially exposed, so additional design parameters need attention. The alloy ring obviously must be tough and corrosion resistant, but what about the vibration and fluid stoppering rubber? Well, UV resistance is desirable here, as is ozone resistance and a general aptitude for staying strong when weather extremes push the sealing faces hard.

Gaskets differ from sealing washers in several ways. It’s important to know those differences, to know which product is bound for which application. Stronger by nature, gaskets seal pipe flanges, mechanical housings, and more. They’re strong and durable, but that’s their sole purpose. Sealing washers are fastener accessories, plus they provide fluid sealing strength and a feature that addresses mechanical vibrations.

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