Nitrile vs Silicone O Rings: How to choose

26 November 2019
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Nitrile vs Silicone O Rings: How to choose
Every industry uses O rings. Agriculture, food processing, manufacturing and engineering all depend on various types of O rings to keep equipment working well. The basic function of an O ring is as a sealing element to contain and protect liquid or gaseous materials inside a piece of equipment. Like all seals, the O ring keeps what is inside from escaping and what is outside from ingressing. Because they are used in so many diverse applications, O rings are made with a wide range of materials to suit the demands of specific environments. Two very useful materials are nitrile and silicone. When you are considering nitrile vs silicone O rings, the choice is not always obvious.

They are used in some very similar applications. For example, both are used widely in the automotive industry and inflatable seals can be made with both materials. While they have some similarities, each has its own strengths. When you must decide between nitrile vs. silicone O rings, it helps to understand the benefits of each.

Benefits of Nitrile O Rings
Nitrile butadiene rubber, also known as NBR, is a synthetic rubber copolymer that offers superior resistance to oils, acids and other chemicals. The material’s most high-profile use is the gloves used by doctors, nurses, lab techs and cleaners. It also resists punctures well.

We supply a wide range of nitrile O rings, including those suitable for use with food and potable water, with a shore hardness rating of 40 - 90. We can provide nitrile O rings that have been treated with a talc finish or specially formulated to work at temperatures down to -40 in different colours.

Strengths of Silicone O Rings
Silicone, not to be confused with the chemical element silicon, is a remarkably versatile and flexible material. We see it everywhere from the latest home baking trays to baby bottle nipples. Because of its excellent heat resistance, silicone is used widely in the aerospace and automotive industries. Silicone O rings protect airplane equipment from the extreme temperatures encountered at altitude.

Our silicone O rings feature a shore hardness rating of 30 – 90 and a working low temperature down to -50. We offer silicone O rings that can be used with potable water and in food processing in a variety of colours.

Nitrile vs Silicone O Rings
With so much overlap, it is not always easy to decide between nitrile vs silicone O rings. Applications with significant chemical exposure generally call for nitrile O rings, which those with extreme temperatures tend to require silicone. But given the potential damage from using the wrong kind of O ring, it is best not to guess. We’re always happy to review your needs and help you decide on nitrile vs silicone O rings for your equipment.