Oil Seal (Lip Seal) Vs. Mechanical Seal: Pros & Cons of Each

22 May 2019
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The purpose of any seal is to protect a joining in a piece of equipment. Seals serve to keep lubrication or other liquids inside and contamination outside of the joint. A lip seal is also known as an oil seal or a rotary shaft seal. Oil seals or rotary shaft seals and mechanical seals are designed for moving parts. So how do you decide on an oil seal vs mechanical seal? It helps to understand how they are similar and how they are different. And of course, the precise needs of the application are really the deciding factor.


They are designed to endure the strain of continuous movement in an environment where they are exposed to contaminants such as grit, dust and dirt such as hydraulic pumps and valve stems. Typically made with various types of rubber, oil seals are sophisticated and varied to suit a range of applications. Some are spring loaded; others are not. Oil or Rotary shaft seals are vulnerable to extreme temperatures, which can cause them to wear out faster if they are used in very high or low temperatures.


A mechanical seal features stationary elements, rotating components and a spring. It is a complex piece of equipment, and the type of spring varies depending on the needs of the specific application. It is the interface between stationary and moving parts of machinery. It serves the same function as gland packing, but is significantly more durable and requires less maintenance. Mechanical seals are used in applications with a rotating shaft. One of their key benefits is that they are relatively low maintenance, which improves productivity.

Making the Choice of an Oil Seal Vs. Mechanical Seal


When deciding on the best type of seal for a particular application, it is best to consider all aspects of the environment and its purpose. If the application requires a spring- loaded seal, that does not eliminate either the rotary shaft seal or the mechanical seal. If the equipment is operating in extreme temperatures, including situations where the rapid movement of the equipment creates extreme heat, a mechanical seal will hold up better than an oil seal.

Oil seal vs. mechanical seal is not always an easy decision. In some cases, one is the obvious choice because you are replacing a worn out seal with the same type. But in other situations, either type would work and the question is which will enhance productivity the most. At Abbey Seals, we have ample experience with a full range of seal types. We are happy to discuss the specifics of your application and advise you on the optimum type of seal for your equipment. The decision between a rotary shaft or oil seal vs. mechanical seal involves many factors, and we are here to help you make the best choice for your specific needs.

You can find our contact information here or please fill in the product information request form here for information on either type of seal