What is the difference between an

Inflatable Seal and Regular Seal?

The primary function of every seal is to offer leak-free solutions. While regular seals/gaskets can comfortably do this job in applications like sealing windows, water pipelines, and automobiles, they might fail in extreme conditions like sealing in deep-sea applications, aerospace, or certain pharmaceutical applications. In demanding applications like these, inflatable seals can guarantee 100% leak-proof sealing without any compromise whatsoever. Here are some reasons why inflatable seals are a must in certain applications:
1. 100% Leak-Proof Sealing:

Inflatable seals are the blind choice for users in critical applications due to their ability to offer 100% leak-proof sealing. Let alone a spec of dust, inflatable seals do not allow even an air particle to leak from or into the applications. In addition, this property is offered in the most extreme conditions, from sealing in the depths of the sea bed, to securing satellite doors.

2. Sealing Uneven Surfaces:

While regular seals can function effectively if the sealing surface is even and smooth, inflatable seals come with no such demands. The inflation mechanism allows the inflatable seal to tightly secure all available gaps against the striking surface. In case the sealing surface is not even, it could be that the inflatable seal expands slightly more from a particular point.

3. Overcoming Problems Of Compression Set:

The compression set indicates the ability of the seal to return to its original size. Over time, regular seals start showing issues due to poor compression set. In the case of inflatable seals, however, the compression set becomes a redundant factor. The inflation and deflation mechanism overcome this problem from the very root.

4. Inflation-deflation For Clamping:

Unlike regular seals, inflatable seals come with a special property of inflation and deflation. This property enables the seal to act as clamps in industrial settings i.e. allow for lifting up, putting down, and transferring objects from one place to another.

Please watch the following video (link) by Western Rubbers, that explains the clamping property of inflatable seals: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZx2HedAvGg

5. Leak Proof Sealing Under Pressure:

Differential pressure is the difference between the internal pressure of a system/machine and the external pressure of the atmosphere (sea, space, etc.) in which the system is operating. Regular seals cannot perform to their fullest when the differential pressure is high, thus resulting in leakage. Inflatable seals on the other hand function efficiently i.e. ensure zero leakage, in the face of high differential pressures, which at times may be as high as 20 Bar, such as in the case of deep-sea oil rigs, petroleum extraction, and satellite applications, to name a few.

6. Complete Control Over Pressure:

Inflatable seals find a wide application in industries having automated jobs with high levels of precision. A good example would be doctor blades used in the paper industry. Inflatable seals are used in doctor blades. The pressure of the inflatable seal can be controlled to determine the speed and sharpness of the blade cutting the paper. Certain braking applications also rely heavily on inflatable seals for the same purpose.

7. Better Operational Life:

Finally, taking all the above-mentioned points into consideration, it can be safely concluded that compared to regular seals, inflatable seals have a better operational seal life over time, especially in extreme conditions i.e. in applications involving extremes of temperatures, pressure differentials, harsh conditions, and stringent regulations.

To know more on the different types and applications of inflatable seals, click here.

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