What Is a Gasket?

What is a gasket? Typically, “gasket” is a common term for a sealing device positioned at the point where two surfaces meet. Gaskets are in buildings, electronic equipment, motor vehicles, and a plethora of other mechanisms, performing similar functions to seals. Although commonly shaped like rings, gaskets can also come in other shapes. But how does one determine precisely what is a gasket or when it might be something else?

Understanding What a Gasket Is

Also sometimes referred to as washers or O-rings, gaskets create a seal in the gap between two surfaces. Though gaskets can be made of a variety of different materials, modern ones are normally made of some type of elastomer or rubber. Gaskets come in all manner of geometries and proportions, depending on what a gasket is meant to do. These variations in shape and size sometimes create confusion as to whether a gasket is a seal, which acts similarly. So, to properly understand their purpose, it’s also important to understand what a gasket isn’t and what a seal is.

What Is a Gasket & How Does It Differ From a Seal?

Often people refer to gaskets as seals and seals as gaskets, as they both perform essentially the same functions. There is, however, one significant difference between the two. While both gaskets and seals act as barriers to prevent leaking, seals protect moving components like those found in engines, pumps, or rotating shafts, whereas gaskets create a seal between two flat surfaces. Gaskets are used in cases where a flange or component meets to avert leakage.

Essentially, gaskets are made up of two stationary seals that lock together two unmoving components. They’re often molded specifically for an application, though they’re sometimes placed in a position to keep the two parts from rubbing against each other. Gaskets don’t just act as seals, however, but also protect parts from corrosion. They also tend to be built to resist vibrations, temperature extremes, impact and abrasion, depending on the gasket’s exact application.

What Is a Gasket Used For?

Generally, gaskets are used whenever a stationary object requires sealing. They’re found in all sorts of things, including household items like water faucets, washing machines, dishwashers, and air conditioners. They’re also used for a host of industries and in various applications.

Gaskets are used in applications that include the following: 

  • Airplanes
  • Food processing
  • Gas and oil production
  • Hydraulics
  • Medical devices
  • Military equipment
  • Motor vehicles
  • Pharmaceutical, fiber optics,
  • Plumbing fixtures
  • Pumps
  • Spacecraft
  • Valves

Different Types of & Materials for Gaskets

Today’s rubber gaskets are often made from synthetic rubbers. Rubber gaskets are used in various applications, including automotive, food processing, medical, and other industrial purposes.

Automotive applications are the most common for rubber gaskets, which are used to prevent moisture from entering vehicles via doors and trunk lids; cylinder heads and engine blocks also feature gaskets to prevent water from leaking into them. For food and beverage manufacturers, gaskets help augment sanitation, such as by protecting raw meat from contaminating foods or preventing leakage of carbonated beverages when filling bottles. Catheters, hospital dehumidifiers, IV bags, tubing and other medical devices also utilize rubber gaskets to prevent infections from spreading while keeping conditions hygienic and dry. Conveyors, pumps, valves and other industrial equipment also feature rubber gaskets to protect against abrasive material, chemicals and heat.

Gaskets can also be made from other materials, such as: 

  • Silicone
  • PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene)
  • Neoprene
  • Foam
  • EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer rubber)

Generally, the best materials for gaskets have high tensile strength, lower densities, and reasonable flexibility. The ability to withstand harsher chemicals and high pressures also adds to their durability. Yet the strength of the material is the most crucial for applications that require gaskets, as they must be sufficiently strong so as not to deform during exposure to conditions found in industrial environments.

Contact the Experts at Manufacturer’s Rubber & Supply

If you’re still wondering what a gasket is used for and if it’s right for your application, Manufacturer’s Rubber & Supply can help. As a source for industrial rubber components, we can help manufacturers find the best gasket for your particular purpose. To learn more about what we can do for you, contact our expert team today or, for those who already know what they need, request a free quote.

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