Contrary to what some may believe, not all medical device seals are created equal. Here at Tapecon, we occasionally hear customers use the terms “O-ring” and “gasket” interchangeably. While these two components are similar in several ways, they also have significant differences that designers should keep in mind.
O-rings and gaskets are both types of seals used in medical devices to prevent leaks, protect the product from contamination, and maintain pressure and flow of liquids and gases. However, unique designs and attributes make each type suitable for specific applications. In this article, we’ll explain the differences between gaskets and O-rings.
O-rings for medical devices
O-rings, sometimes referred to as donuts, are circular sealing components. While the round shape is consistent, O-rings can be made to custom sizes and thicknesses. This type of seal is typically designed to fit into a groove between the two surfaces that are being connected.
O-rings are often used in medical devices where a high-pressure seal is required. They can create an air- or liquid-tight seal, which is why they are popular for fluid delivery systems. Another unique attribute of O-rings is that they retain a tight seal even when there is movement between the two surfaces, due to vibration or pressure.
Gaskets for medical devices
Like O-rings, gaskets are flat components that create a seal between two surfaces. However, gaskets can be converted into nearly any shape – not just a round donut. Gaskets can be designed with flexible materials (like O-rings) or rigid materials such as metal or polymers. Whereas O-rings are typically a single material, gaskets can be made in multi-layer constructions to fit design needs.
In general, gaskets are used in applications where only a low-pressure seal is needed, such as between a lid and a container. Additionally, gaskets are not as effective as O-rings when there is movement between the surfaces. However, gaskets are better than O-rings at withstanding high temperatures.
Choosing between an O-ring and a gasket
As you can see, O-rings and gaskets are similar in some respects, but there are key differences when selecting sealing for your medical device. Considerations include:
The shape of the joint
The pressure being applied
Environmental factors, such as temperature
The type of fluid or gas being sealed
Movement between the two surfaces
If you’re unsure if an O-ring or gasket is suitable for your product, reach out to the Tapecon team. We have extensive experience in manufacturing medical devices and components. Regardless of which sealing option you go with, material selection is critical. With our materials expertise, we can provide recommendations or test multiple options.
As an outsourced manufacturing partner, we offer a wide range of converting capabilities in our FDA-registered facility. Let Tapecon produce your high-quality sealing components, so your team can focus on its core competencies.