Surface characterization and experimental design for testing of a radial lip seal

Jenny Paige, Lyndon Stephens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


In radial lip seals, it is generally accepted that sealing occurs through microasperities that form on the surface of the elastomer. It is most often thought that these asperities form during the first few hours of operation due to the stresses and wear in the seal. Thus, the formation of these asperities is highly dependent upon the specific operating conditions of the seal. This article studies the size, shape, and quantity of the asperities that are present on a specific seal design, when run at a certain set of operating conditions. From this analysis it has been determined that the hydrodynamic pumping aids that are present on the seal significantly affect the formation of microasperities. Radial lip seal samples affected by pumping aids had more distinct microasperities, but these asperities are clustered on the edges of the sealing zone, which is not the case for samples unaffected by pumping aids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-355
Number of pages15
JournalTribology Transactions
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank the Army Research Office for its financial support (DAAD 19-02-01-1098) as well as the Timken Company for its collaboration. The Zygo Corporation is also acknowledged for its support of the Newview 5000TM three-dimensional profilometer. The authors also recognize Dr. Philip Hadinata of the University of Kentucky Bearings and Seals Laboratory.


  • Boundary lubricated wear
  • Elastohydrodynamic lubrication
  • Lip seal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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