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Importance of Seal Compatibility

An essential part of machine tool maintenance is maintaining your machine tool’s seals. It is important to make sure your machine tool seals are compatible with the metalworking fluid in use.

Machine seals are considered wear parts and should be replaced on a regular basis as per the recommendations of the machine manufacturer. Choosing the correct seal material for your machine tool is imperative.  Consult with your machine tool manufacturer to select the appropriate type and style of seal material. 

All seals have been designed to swell and still maintain their performance. Choosing the correct seal that limits the swelling and extends its life requires an understanding of what the seal is made of. Frequently, seals are constructed from fluoroelastomers, nitrile, silicone, ethylene propylene or neoprene materials.  All these materials will perform differently when exposed to different metalworking fluids. The higher the quality of the seal material, the better it will protect your machine tool. Fluoroelastomers and nitrile materials have been found to provide the best performance when exposed to metalworking fluid.  

Metalworking fluids are found to be slightly alkaline in nature. Alkaline solutions help maintain bio-stability and improve corrosion protection on ferrous metals. To balance the correct pH levels, metalworking fluids need to run between pH levels of 8.7 - 9.3. Controlling both the concentration of the fluid, along with the pH level, provides enhanced performance.

The high degree of wetting and increased pH levels will often stress moulded plastics and polycarbonate materials on machine tools. These components should be properly sealed and inspected for cracks and replaced as required. Metalworking fluids and water-soluble products are hard on seals because of the complexity of their formulation and the variety of chemicals used.

Work with your machine tool manufacture to optimize your seal material choice.  Maintaining your fluid and doing preventive maintenance will also extend your machine tools’ service life. If you should have any questions, please contact your Chem Arrow representative or email sales@chemarrow.com for more information.

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