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PTFE seals

In most cases, small diameter PTFE seals are shipped on a tube that maintains a nominal seal inside diameter (smaller than shaft diameter) during storage. Therefore, they should not be removed from the shipping tube until immediately prior to installation. Also, if quality inspections must be done, SKF recommends that the shipping tube remains in place. The seal inside diameter cannot be accurately measured anyway after manufacturing as the PTFE lip configuration changes over time as it relaxes.
PTFE formulations used for radial lip seals are generally more aggressive and abrasive to the shaft than standard elastomeric materials. Therefore, PTFE sealing lips require a surface hardness value of 58 to 62 HRC. An alternative to a hardened shaft surface is the use of an SKF wear sleeve, manufactured to the same high standards such as the inner rings of SKF needle roller bearings, offering an excellent sealing surface.
In applications where PTFE seals will be retaining a lubricant or be fully flooded with a fluid, the seals should be installed dry. In applications that run dry or will be starved for lubrication, the sealing lip should be pre-lubricated with a grease appropriate for the temperature conditions of the application.


At temperatures above 300 °C (570 °F), all fluoro elastomers and PTFE compounds give off dangerous fumes. This can occur, for example, if a welding torch is used when removing a bearing. Although the fumes are only produced at such high temperatures, once heated, the seals will be dangerous to handle even when they have cooled down. If it is necessary to handle PTFE or fluoro elastomer seals that have been subjected to the high temperatures mentioned above, the following safety precautions should be observed:
  • Protective goggles and gloves should always be worn.
  • The remains of seals should be put in an airtight plastic container marked “Material will etch”.
  • Comply with the safety precautions included in the material safety data that can be provided upon request.

If there is contact with your skin, this should be washed with soap and plenty of water. Wash your eyes with plenty of water if these materials get into your eyes. A doctor should always be consulted. This also applies if the fumes have been inhaled.

Installation procedure

PTFE lips do not have the same elastic properties as rubber lips, which makes them more susceptible to damage. Therefore, special care must be taken during installation and handling to prevent damage and help ensure proper operation and function. Shaft features such as keyways and splines, as well as drill holes, ports and sharp-edged shaft steps have the potential to damage PTFE lips. Whenever possible, these obstructions can be covered by using thin-walled installation tools made from plastic or metal.
PTFE lip orientation during installation will determine the installation method. Installation is more difficult when the shaft is installed against the PTFE lip (fig 1 and fig 2). This type of installation becomes even more complicated when the hardware is difficult to access or visually obstructed and may not be possible if an installation tool cannot be used. In any case, when the shaft is installed against the PTFE lip, SKF recommends the use of an installation cone or “bullet”. SKF can quote and manufacture installation cones if detailed drawings of the shaft and sealing areas are provided. In lieu of installation cones, longer than normal lead-in chamfers on the shaft would be required. However, shaft features that could damage the seal (keyways, etc.) must still be covered, possibly with tape.
If the shaft is installed with the PTFE lip, a smooth, burr-free radius or chamfer on the shaft end is all that is required, provided that no damaging shaft features are present as noted above (fig 3 and fig 4).
Some seals have two PTFE lips facing opposite directions. In this case, installation is always against one of the lips and an installation cone is recommended.
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