Thinking back to the Challenger explosion in 1986, at least those who can think that far back, the critical purpose that high temperature seals and high pressure seals serve cannot be overstated. In the case of Challenger, the type of high pressure seal that failed, and led to the demise of the Challenger and its crew, was a rather simple, rubber o ring. While the o ring design is quite simple, the fact that a single, simple, malfunctioning o ring could end in such tragedy a tragedy and many tasteless jokes is, indeed, mind boggling. The Challenger disaster exemplifies the critical importance of seal design, regardless if the seals are high temperature oil seals, peek seals, or spring energized seals.
The purpose of high pressure seals, rubber o rings, and gaskets is to keep gas, fluid, or air from escaping various housings. Everyone has heard his or her mechanic use the word gasket. But how many people know what a gasket does, or even what a gasket is. There are large gaskets and small gaskets located underneath the hood of a car. Anywhere there is fluid or air pressure there are high pressure seals or gaskets that help to hold the contents inside. The head gasket is, perhaps, the most important gasket in an automobile. The head gaskets utilize a high pressure seals to keep oil and coolants from leaking into the cylinders of an automobile engine. The failure of this type of seal will lead to overheating and engine malfunction. Head gaskets are just one example of high pressure seals that play simple, yet crucial roles in a properly functioning automobile.