18 August, 2018

Designs on efficiency and reliability

21 March, 2017

Matthew Wood, technical director, Ashton Group, considers the importance of correct seal and filter design.


Hydraulic seals are critical components within plant and machinery to facilitate turning fluid power into linear motion. Other critical parts include the oil filters used on hydraulic equipment in order to remove contaminants from the oil pumped through the system.

However, when fitting seals or filtration equipment to plant and equipment something that is often overlooked is the importance of ensuring that these parts are designed to be suited to the specific task or tasks that they are intended for, as well as the environment they will be expected to work within.

In most instances, when a seal or filter fails in operation the problem is likely not to be due to the part itself but rather because it was not designed correctly for its intended use in the first instance. Seals or filters might not always fail straight away even if they are designed incorrectly – it might require certain conditions before this scenario occurs – but nevertheless when they do cease to function the finger is often pointed in their direction undeservedly.

The alternatives

Therefore, it is critical to get the design right from the outset. Designing seals or filters may be a tried-and-tested procedure for many designers, resulting in seals and filtration equipment that is right for the job in hand. However, even the most experienced designers can from time to time ‘get stuck in their ways’ and not see an alternative way of designing the part.

For example, if developing a piston with a view to integrating it within systems used for the type of application where weight reduction could reap benefits such as reductions in running costs – it might be worth considering one of the newly engineered plastics as a preferred material with which to manufacture the piston with integrated seal rods rather than relying on the more traditional (and considerably heavier) metal or metal alloy option.

Some of the newly developed engineered plastics have the same abrasive resistance and strength as metals and alloys while offering a number of other benefits. For example, they are easier to machine, meaning they can be considerably cheaper to make. Also, because these plastics are more hygienic and easier to clean than metals and alloys, they are ideal for sectors such as food & beverage manufacturing where they can more easily conform with the relevant food regulations – particularly if the plant and equipment they are fitted to will be operating close to the area of food production.

Optimising design processes

In this regard, it can be well worthwhile for designers to call on the services of a company that is able to help to optimise their design processes in order to reap greater benefits in terms of longevity/increased uptime and cost savings etc.




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