Inflatable Seals + Retaining Systems: A Two-Part Solution

November 3, 2021

Getting an air-tight, leak-proof seal is critical for equipment with movable, interlocking parts that need to be secured for sanitary, thermal and radioactive purposes. Inflatable seals close the gap and conform to uneven surfaces after an inflation medium, such as air or liquid, is introduced into the tubing. In order to prolong the inflatable seal’s lifespan and protect it from damage, many applications benefit from adding a retaining system to their installation.

Why Do I Need a Retaining System?

Retaining mechanisms play a crucial role in the proper functioning of an inflatable seal. If the inflatable seal is not held in the proper position, its sealing capabilities may falter or become susceptible to damage from other equipment components.

Inflatable seals are attached to applications using clips, adhesive, extrusions and grooves. For applications that have circular or linear sections, grooved retaining systems are common. A retaining system provides a stable platform to facilitate the seal’s inflation for an air-tight closure that keeps interlocking parts secure.

Types of Retaining Systems to Consider

Seal Master provides metal or elastomeric retainers in strip or circular form. Our team engineers an inflatable seal and retainer profile to best match your unique application. We carefully spec out your project based on the dimensions of the gap to be sealed, the surrounding environment, temperature range, pressures across the seal, and inflation requirements.

Our inflatable seals can be custom fitted into:

  • Extruded metal retainers
  • Machined metal retainers
  • Extruded, molded or formed rubber retainers
  • Extruded, molded or formed plastic retainers

Installing an Inflatable Seal into a Retainer

Proper installation is essential to the function and longevity of an inflatable seal. A retainer must hold the seal in place, allow it the freedom to inflate and deflate, and protect it from damage.

The elasticity of an inflatable seal requires careful loading into a retaining system. To properly install a seal into a snap-fit retaining system:

  • Use blunt tools to push the inflatable seal into its retainer
  • Avoid tools like screwdrivers, metal rods and pens which can unknowingly damage or puncture the seal
  • Refrain from working the seal into the retainer in a linear fashion, which often results in excess material at the end
  • Insert the seal into the retainer’s grooves at various points, moving directionally in 180-degree increments
  • Securely fit the final sections of the seal into the retainer prior to applying pressure

Choosing the Right Inflatable Seal and Retaining System

Inflatable seals are ideal for difficult sealing conditions, especially when a barrier from moisture, dust and other contaminants is needed. And when a retaining system is added to the application, the inflatable seal is further protected and secured into the right position.

Seal Master knows how to engineer custom inflatable seals and retaining systems for a variety of industries and applications. Our design team troubleshoots old sealing problems and works with new applications all the time. Contact us to get started with an effective sealing solution for your project!

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