Cutting bearing contamination

Paul Boughton
Bearing Isolator technology, originally developed by Inpro/Seal in 1977, has been an integral part of increasing the mean time between repair (MTBR)and improving the reliability of a variety of rotating equipment. 
As end-users of rotating equipment seek to extend the life of these applications, increasing emphasis is being placed on reducing contamination in the bearing environment.
The Inpro/Seal Bearing Isolator is a two part dynamic seal consisting of a stator, most commonly press-fitted into the bearing housing, and a rotor attached to the shaft. The rotor and stator join together to form a non-contacting compound labyrinth seal with no wearing parts. It protects in two ways: bearing lubricant is captured in the inner portion of the labyrinth and flows back to the bearing housing; outside contamination attempting to enter the bearing housing is captured in the outer labyrinth paths and expelled through a port in the rotor by centrifugal force and gravity.
The Bearing Isolator was invented to replace lip seals as a sealing solution in industrial process equipment, such as pumps, motors, gearboxes, pillow blocks and other types of rotating equipment. Because of their contacting design, friction against the shaft limits the life span of lip seals to approximately 3000 hours. Alternatively, an Inpro/Seal Bearing Isolator lacks any wearing parts thereby sealing the bearing for the life of the equipment.  The original Bearing Isolators had been in service for more than 25 years when the pump line on which they were installed was finally taken out of service. Currently there are over 4 million Bearing Isolators installed worldwide.
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Inpro/Seal LLC is based in Rock Island, Illinois, USA.