Metal Bellows Seals: Function, Types, and Applications
April 23, 2024

Metal Bellows Seals: Function, Types, and Applications

Metal bellows seals play a crucial role in various industries, ensuring optimal performance and reliability in demanding applications. Let's delve into what metal bellows seals are, their functions, types, and explore a specific model, the RBW-021.

What is a Metal Bellows Seal Used For?

Metal bellows seals are utilised in mechanical systems to prevent leakage of fluids or gases. They offer effective sealing solutions in environments where conventional seals may fail due to high temperatures, pressures, or aggressive media. These seals find applications in pumps, compressors, mixers, and other rotating equipment across industries such as chemical processing, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, and more.

What is the Function of Metal Bellows?

The primary function of metal bellows is to provide flexibility and compensate for axial, angular, and lateral shaft movements while maintaining a hermetic seal. They absorb vibrations, thermal expansion, and misalignment, thus prolonging the life of the seal and the equipment it serves.

What Type of Seal is a Bellows?

Metal bellows seals are a type of mechanical seal, which consists of two primary sealing elements: the rotating face and the stationary face. The metal bellows act as a flexible element, allowing movement between these faces while maintaining a tight seal.

What are the Different Types of Metal Bellows?

Metal bellows come in various configurations to suit different applications. Common types include single-ply, multi-ply, and edge-welded bellows. Materials used for bellows construction vary based on factors like temperature, pressure, and media compatibility. Stainless steel, Inconel, Hastelloy, and other alloys are commonly employed.

1. Single-Ply Bellows:

Single-ply bellows consist of a single layer of metal that is formed into a convoluted shape. They are typically manufactured by stretching or hydroforming a sheet of metal into a series of convolutions. Single-ply bellows offer flexibility and excellent spring properties, making them suitable for applications where axial movement is the primary concern. They are commonly used in light-duty applications or where space constraints limit the use of larger bellows.

2. Multi-Ply Bellows:

Multi-ply bellows, as the name suggests, are constructed from multiple layers of thin metal sheets stacked together and welded at the edges. This construction enhances the flexibility and durability of the bellows, allowing them to withstand higher pressures and greater axial movements compared to single-ply bellows. Multi-ply bellows are widely used in applications where reliability and longevity are critical, such as aerospace, automotive, and high-pressure industrial systems.

3. Edge-Welded Bellows:

Edge-welded bellows are manufactured by welding together two thin metal diaphragms along their edges to form a convoluted shape. This welding technique eliminates the need for additional layers or seams, resulting in a bellows with a smooth and seamless surface. Edge-welded bellows offer exceptional flexibility and precision, making them suitable for applications requiring high levels of movement control and leak-tight sealing. They are commonly used in vacuum systems, cryogenic equipment, and precision instrumentation.

Each type of metal bellows has its own unique advantages and limitations, and the choice of bellows type depends on factors such as operating conditions, movement requirements, and space constraints. By understanding the characteristics of each type, engineers can select the most appropriate bellows design to meet the specific needs of their application, ensuring optimal performance and reliability.

Explore Our Metal Bellows Seal: RBW-021

The RBW-021 is a metal bellows balanced seal with graphite wedge packing, designed for optimal performance in challenging environments. It features:

  • Balanced Design: Ensures stability and reliability in high-pressure applications.
  • Graphite Secondary Sealing: Provides enhanced sealing performance, particularly in corrosive environments.
  • Versatile Materials: Available with metal bellows in Stainless Steel, Alloy C276, AM350, and Inconel 718, catering to a wide range of operating conditions.
  • Multiple Seal Face Options: Choose from Carbon, Antimony Carbon, TC, and SiC seal face materials to suit specific application requirements.
  • Internal Mounting: Designed to be internally mounted in equipment and secured to the shaft with setscrews, facilitating easy installation and maintenance.

Explore RBW-021 here.

Get in Touch for More Information

For further details on the RBW-021 metal bellows seal and to explore how it can enhance the performance of your equipment, contact us today. Our team of experts is ready to assist you in finding the ideal sealing solution for your needs.

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