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When Buying Replacement Seals For Air Compressors, Consider More Than Their Price

If you run a manufacturing facility or industrial plant, you're undoubtedly constantly looking for ways to cut costs and improve your facility's or plant's bottom line. One of the main ways to keep expenses low in a manufacturing facility or industrial plant is to purchase inexpensive replacement parts for pieces of equipment that break down. When you're buying replacement seals for air compressors, though, you should consider more than just the price of the seals.

Aluminum Seals Are Cheaper Than Bronze Ones

Of the two kinds of air compressor seals, aluminum and bronze, aluminum seals usually cost less.

The price difference is due to the difference in the cost of the raw materials used in the different seals: aluminum costs less than copper, which is the primary component in bronze. For example, at the time of writing, aluminum was selling for $0.70 per pound, and copper was selling for $2.08 per pound, per InvestmentMine. Because copper costs more, bronze seals cost more to make, and companies that manufacture air compressor seals must pass on the increased materials costs by charging more for bronze seals.

The Price Difference is Negligible Compared to Other Costs

The difference in price between aluminum and bronze seals is negligible, though, when compared to other costs associated with replacing air compressor seals.

To start with, the price difference between aluminum and bronze seals isn't too great because seals are fairly small. There's not a lot of metal used in them, so they don't cost a lot -- especially when compared to other parts used in manufacturing facilities and industrial plants.

Comparatively, the time lost while an air compressor seal is being replaced is much more costly than the actual price of the seal itself. While an air compressor seal is being replaced, the air compressor can't be used. During this time, your facility or plant will incur the following expenses:

  • lost revenue from reduced production
  • an employee's salary while they're replacing the seal
  • the salaries of any employees who aren't able to work because they need the air compressor

In just a few minutes, these costs can quickly eclipse the total price for either an aluminum or bronze air compressor seal. Since disassembling an air compressor to get to the seal, replacing the seal and reassembling the air compressor can take a long time, these three expenses can quickly dwarf any price difference considerations.

Therefore, your primary consideration when choosing between aluminum and bronze seals should not be the price of the seals but which ones will reduce how frequently you need to replace them. The seals with the longer life span will save you a lot of money over time, as they'll need to be replaced less often.

Bronze Seals Withstand Higher Temperatures Than Aluminum Ones

In manufacturing plants and industrial seals, bronze seals can last longer than aluminum ones because they can withstand higher temperatures. Aluminum's melting point is 1,220 degrees Fahrenheit. Bronze has a melting point in the vicinity of 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. (Because bronze alloys can vary in their exact composition, the precise melting point of bronze can differ slightly.)

Air compressors in manufacturing plants and industrial facilities are sometimes exposed to extremely hot working conditions. In such conditions, bronze seals can sometimes outlast aluminum ones because they're able to handle hot temperatures better.

Even if the temperatures don't reach the melting points of these metals, they may get hot enough to soften them slightly -- which could deform the seals and render them useless. To reduce how frequently you'll have to stop operations and have an employee replace an air compressor seal, purchase bronze ones instead of aluminum ones. It may cost you a few extra dollars now, but you'll save a lot more over the course of time.

For more information and options, talk with companies that supply air compressors and accessories, like Compressor-Pump & Service, Inc..