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Gasket Design Tips

ProblemResultSuggested Solution
Bolt holes close to edge
Gasket with holes
too close to edge
Causes breakage in stripping and assembling.Projection or "ear"
Gasket with ear
Notch instead of hole.
Gasket with notch
Very small bolt holes or non-circular openings.
Gasket with
small holes
Require handpicking; easy to miss.Avoid hole sizes under 3/32" diameter. If small hole is for locating or indexing, change to notch.
Gasket with
locating notch
Tear-away parts with open slots at attached edges.
Gasket with
open slots
Slots require handpicking and costly programming charges.Simple perforation
Gasket with perforation
Thin walls, delicate cross-section in relation to overall size.
Gasket with
narrow cross-section
High scrap loss; stretching or distortion in shipment or use. Restricts choice to high tensile strength materials.Have the gasket in mind during early design stages.
Metalworking tolerances applied to gasket thickness, diameters, length, width, etc.
Gasket with
metal-type tolerances
Results in perfectly usable parts being rejected at incoming inspection. Requires time and correspondence to reach agreement on practical limits. Increases cost of parts and tooling. Delays delivery.Most gasket materials are compressible. Many are affected by humidity changes. Try standard or commercial tolerances before concluding that special accuracy is required.
Transference of fillets, radii, etc. from mating metal parts to gasket.
Gasket with
fillets and radii
Unless part is molded, such features mean extra operations and higher costs.Most gasket stocks will conform to mating parts without preshaping. Be sure radii, chamfers, etc. are functional, not merely copied from metal members.
Large gaskets made in sections with beveled joints
Gasket with
beveled joints
Extra operations to skive or glue. Difficult to obtain smooth, even joints without steps or transverse grooves.
Gasket skived 
and glued
Precision WaterJet cut dovetail joints.
Gasket with
dovetail joints

Bolting and Flange Information

   The gasket's function is to seal two different surfaces held together by one of several means, the most common being screw-threaded devices such as bolts. Sometimes the fastener itself must be sealed, as in the case of a steel drum bung.
   The bolt is a spring. It is an elastic member that has been stretched to develop a load. The more spring provided by the bolt, the better the retention of stress on the gasket to maintain a leakproof joint. It must not be over-elongated (over-strained), or the elastic limit of the steel will be exceeded. The bolt then deforms and, with continued loading (stressing), may rupture.
   To avoid such problems with bolt tightening, the use of a torque wrench is recommended. The equipment designer normally specifies the torque required for a product. This ensures that the maximum available load is applied consistently to the gasket. The load will be better retained by using a bolt with a longer grip, thereby ensuring a leakproof joint.
   There are limits on the degree of flange surface imperfection that can be sealed successfully with a gasket. Large nicks, dents or gouges must be avoided, since a gasket cannot properly seal against them. The surface finish of a flange is described as follows:
   1. Roughness: Roughness is read in millionths of an inch as the average of the peaks and valleys measured from a midline of the flange surface. This is expressed either as rms (root mean square) or AA (arithmetic average). The difference between these two methods of reading is so small that they may be used interchangeably. Roughness is also expressed as AARH (arithmetic average roughness height).
   2. Lay: Lay is the direction of the predominant surface-roughness pattern. Example: multidirectional, phonographic spiral serrations, etc.
   3. Waviness: Waviness is measured in thousandths of fractions of an inch. Basically, it is the departure from overall flatness.
   Typical roughness readings can be from 125 to 500 micro-inches for serrated flanges and 125-250 micro-inches for non-serrated flanges. Fine finishes, such as polished surfaces, should be avoided. Adequate "bite" in the surface is required to develop enough friction to prevent the gasket from being blown out or from extruding or creeping excessively.
   The lay of the finish should follow the midline of the gasket, if possible. Take, for example, concentric circles on a round flange, or a phonographic spiral. Every effort should be made to avoid lines across the face, such as linear surface grinding, which at 180° points will cross the seal area at right angles to the gasket, allowing a direct leak path.
   Waviness is seldom a problem under normal conditions. There are two areas that must be watched, however, since excessive waviness is very difficult to handle.
   The first area is glass-lined equipment where the natural flow of the fused glass creates extreme waviness. Often the answer here is to use thick and highly compressible gasketing.
   The second area of concern is warped flanges. If warpage is caused by heat or internal stresses, re-machining is generally sufficient. However, warpage due to excessive bolt loads or insufficient flange thickness results in what is generally called bowing. (See example of bowing pictured below).
   The solution is to redesign for greater flange rigidity. Sometimes backer plates can be added to strengthen the design without having to replace the parts. Another step would be to add more bolts. When this is done, usually smaller bolt diameters are possible, thus adding more bolt stretch and better joint performance.
Before Installation
  • Remove old gasket, and clean flange surface of all debris. For best results, use a metal flange scraper, an aerosol gasket remover and a wire brush, then inspect the flange for damage. Be sure surface finish and flatness are satisfactory.
  • Use the thinnest possible gasket. However, flanges that are warped, bowed or severely pitted require thicker gaskets.
  • Whenever possible, use ring gaskets. Full face gaskets have more surface area, requiring additional compressive load on the gasket.
  • Use dry anti-seize, rather than wet. Talc is best, while graphite and mica are also acceptable. Never use metal-based anti-seize, since particles may accumulate in the surface imperfections, thereby creating a flange surface that is too smooth to be effective.
Bowing of flanges because of excessive bolt load or insufficient flange thickness:
Flange Bowing
  • Center the gasket on the flange. This is extremely vital where raised faces are involved.
    Note: Standard ANSI ring gaskets, when properly cut, should center themselves when the bolts are in place.
  • Use a torque wrench and well-lubricated fasteners with hardened flat washers to ensure correct initial loading.
  • Tighten bolts to compress gasket uniformly. This means going from side to side around the joint in a star-like crossing pattern. See picture below.
  • All bolts should be tightened in one-third increments, according to proper bolting patterns.
  • Retorque 12 to 24 hours after start-up, whenever possible. All applicable safety standards including lockout / tagout procedure should be observed.
  • Never use liquid or metallic based anti-stick or lubricating compounds on the gaskets. Premature failure could occur as a result.
Correct bolting patterns:
Flange Bowing





Tampa Rubber & Gasket Co., Inc.

215 North 20th Street
Tampa, FL, USA 33605
Ph-813-247-3647 Fax-813-247-3180
Toll Free-800-940-4673 E-Mail - The Post Office
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