Inflatable Seal - How to design with inflatable seals

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Inflatable Seals:

How to design with inflatable seals Inflatable Seals

Slide 2:

Some inflatable seals are made of material impregnated with silver ion, which prevents bacteriological and microbial growth. Designing with inflatable seals requires the inclusion of a source of compressed gas, which is used to inflate seals in the medical device industry and is often already available on the plant floor, in a laboratory, or medical environment. It is also possible to inflate with liquids rather than gas in demanding applications, and water would be an acceptable inflation media in this sector, although not common. For low-temperature applications, a seal can be inflated with a blend of glycerin and water. Designing with inflatable seals Seals used on doors and openings should be selected early during product design. In some cases, contact seals may be effective, but they often require substantial force be applied to load the seal, which impacts product design and increases manufacturing cost. Inflatable seals enable more cost-effective fabrication for two main reasons:

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Inflatable seals are more forgiving because the seal can inflate to close a gap between structural members and achieve equal sealing pressure around the flange if the gap falls within a broad tolerance. For example, an inflatable seal will work whether the gap spans 3mm or 10mm. A compression seal or other contact seal will not be effective unless the seal and flange contact each other with great precision, which is difficult to achieve on new equipment. Even a robust and precision-manufactured machine with well-designed flanges will lose some of its geometric integrity as hinges and other components deform or bend over years of use. Throughout the course of the equipment lifecycle, a contact seal will become problematic and may exhibit leakage. Inflatable seals enable lighter and more affordable methods of equipment fabrication. The force exerted on the chassis of a piece of equipment means doors and related components must be thicker, perhaps machined instead of welded. These components are typically made of stainless steel, and inflatable seals might be attractive due to lowered material costs.

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Which equipment needs inflatable seals? Isolators – where a leak-tight enclosure can be critical for environmental health protection due to hazardous substances of processes – can secure glove boxes, access gates, transfer systems, and filtration systems that handle toxic or sterile components Sterilizers – which may rely on heat, chemicals, irradiation, or filtration – may be suitable for desktop autoclave sterilizers, sterilizing tabletop autoclaves, and static air dehydrogenation sterilizers Dryers, freeze dryers used to sterilize everything from machine components to glassware Material handling functions, to raise, lower, or grasp objects More than just closure Inflatable seals are most often used to seal openings, but they can also be used in designs such as an airlifting bag or in other settings to initiate or halt motion.

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In a surgical theater, for example, lights extending from the ceiling need to be positioned and repositioned securely by the surgeon, and a manufacturer may use an engineered length of an inflatable seal to lock the light in place. The surgeon can press a handle to deflate the seal, and as soon as he or she releases the handle, the seal will re-inflate and lock the light into position. This also offers a cushioning action because the seal absorbs vibrations in the building that may be caused by foot traffic, equipment on the floor above, or nearby vehicle traffic .

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Conclusion Inflatable seals should be at the top of the medical designer’s list for a broad class of equipment. Reduced pressure requirements allow for lower cost fabrication methods because the equipment can be less robust and need not hold precise flange tolerances throughout its lifecycle. They work as equipment falls out of specification during its lifecycle, and new innovations in silicone material design can help reduce risk of contamination and meet regulator demands. Involving the sealing system manufacturer in the early stages of design is crucial to ensuring optimal performance of the equipment, and the supply chain management practices of the vendor should be subject of careful due diligence. Source: http ://www.todaysmedicaldevelopments.com/article/how-to-design-with-inflatable-seals/

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