When looking for an O-ring, there are many different materials out there. Viton® and nitrile are two of the most common materials used to create O-rings, and for a good reason. Both have excellent properties, a good compression set, and varied chemical resistances. So which material is suitable for your application?
Nitrile O-rings, commonly called NBR or Buna-N, are the most frequently used O-ring in the market. These O-rings are also usually the cheapest option out there. However, there are many chemical and environmental limitations to nitrile O-rings.
Nitrile is a synthetic copolymer of acrylonitrile and butadiene, but the percentage of acrylonitrile can change the properties. With a change in the acrylonitrile percentage, the temperature range can be increased but will cause a lower resistance to oil and fuel, and vice versa. Whether increased or decreased, this change in acrylonitrile percentage will increase the cost of the nitrile O-ring.
Additionally, nitrile O-rings can be hydrogenated, also known as HNBR, to increase the temperature range and resist oils, fuels, ozone, and some harsh chemicals. However, this will also increase the cost of the material. For this comparison, let’s assume a standard acrylonitrile content is used, and the material is not hydrogenated.
Simply put, Viton® is the name-brand for FKM or FPM material. However, the material is equivalent, whether called Viton®, FKM, or FPM. Viton® O-rings are another extremely common O-ring used due to their high-temperature range and durability.
There are many types of Viton® material used to make O-rings: Viton® A, Viton® B, and Viton® F, as well as many others. The main difference between Viton® A, Viton® B, and Viton® F is the fluorine content, with Viton® A having 66%, Viton® B having 68%, and Viton® F having 70%. Viton® A is the most commonly used version, but Viton® B and Viton® F are also used frequently when the application requires. For this comparison, let’s assume Viton® A is used.
Viton® vs Nitrile – What is the Difference?
When comparing nitrile and Viton®, the next step is to decide which one is right for your application. But, we still need to better understand the differences between nitrile and Viton® O-rings. So, what is the difference between Viton® vs. nitrile O-rings?
Nitrile O-rings have a temperature range of -35°C (-30°F) to 120°C (250°F).
Viton® O-rings have a temperature range of -20°C (-5°F) to 210°C (-410°F).
Viton® O-rings are resistant to more chemicals than nitrile, extreme conditions, and mold. Both Viton® and nitrile O-rings have good abrasion and tear resistance, but nitrile will have higher resistance.
Nitrile O-rings perform poorly in harsh chemicals or outdoor applications. Additionally, the resistance to different liquids is reduced when a particular formulation is required for higher or lower temperature ranges. Furthermore, Viton® O-rings should not be used in brake fluid, ketones, hot water, or with low temperatures.
Common Applications & Uses
Viton® and nitrile O-rings are used in various applications. Nitrile O-rings are commonly found in hydraulics, pneumatics, and fuel applications. This is especially true in automotive equipment, off-road equipment, some military applications, marine devices, and aircraft fuel systems. Viton® O-rings can usually be found in automobiles, aircraft, and other mechanical devices, especially those requiring harsher chemicals.
Nitrile is generally significantly cheaper than Viton®. However, special formulations of nitrile will increase the price.
Which Material Is Right for Your Application?
The suitable material depends heavily on the application. While there are positives and negatives for both nitrile and Viton®, either material may be ideal for your needs. For example, suppose the standard operating temperature is between 0°C (32°F) and 100°C (212°F). In this case, the application is internal, a standard hydraulic oil is used for lubrication, and no harsh chemicals are present; nitrile would be the better option based on the cost.
But, if the temperature were to increase, the applications were to be outside in the elements or in UV, or a harsher chemical would be used, Viton® would be the better option. But, again, a full review of all aspects of your application will help you decide which O-ring is most suitable.
Still not sure if nitrile or Viton® O-rings are suitable for your application? Let’s talk. With Wyatt Seal, you can be sure you are getting the proper seal for your application.