Seven Easy Ways for Steel Mills to Improve Continuous Caster Cylinder Life

Most of the continuous casters used today were designed long before modern performance and reliability standards were established. Pressures have increased, and greater productivity demands continue to stress older equipment. But there are several relatively simple improvements every mill operator can make to keep legacy casters running smoothly into the future.

1. Upgrade Your Dirt Wipers

324 Series Heavy-Duty "Rambo" Snap-In Wiper

  The 324 Series Heavy-Duty Wiper is the most aggressive excluder available.

Standard wipers very often allow contaminates to enter the cylinder, which can cause internal corrosion. The contamination leads to score marks or even damage to the seal. This is a leading cause of costly cylinder head repairs. New designs in robust waterproof wipers easily prevent this type of damage.

2. Adjust for Fluid Compatibility

All fluids aren’t necessarily compatible with all seals. And as fluids age, they can become increasingly more detrimental to certain seal materials. Knowing the precise operating fluid will help identify a better combination of seal materials. If you’re unsure about fluid compatibility issues, contact us at, 216-220-1800, and we will be glad to assist you.

3. Eliminate V-Packing


Damage to V-Packing due to extrusion, erosion and wear.
Modern seals are now made of reinforced PTFE compounds or other advanced materials, which substantially reduce friction and heat, while enabling more efficient cylinder operation. Modern seals also do not require axial loading, or squeezing, which is common with older V-packings, over-squeezed V-packing can accelerate wear, increase the risk of leakage and reduce a cylinder’s service life.

4. Ensure Correct Surface Finishes

Seal life can be dramatically increased by following recommended surface finish parameters and hardness values. The correct surface allows seals to function at their best, while reducing wear and extending service life. Proper hardness also ensures that sliding surfaces resist potential scoring, scuffing and scrapes, which damage seals.


5. Use Anti-Extrusion Devices

The most common cause of seal failure is extrusion, which is usually the result of excessive pressure and running clearances inside a cylinder. A good way to prevent extrusion is an anti-extrusion device in the seal design engineered to support and protect the seal under pressure. An anti-extrusion device also enables wider clearances inside the cylinder and avoids the need for rework with existing cylinder designs.

6. Relieve Pressure Trapping

Pressure trapping is a major problem with back-to-back piston seals. As a cylinder continues to cycle, pressure between the seals increases and reaches a point of no return, causing the seals to reverse extrude. The problem is easily avoided by using piston seals designed specifically to relieve pressure. Another option is a double-acting piston seal that can eliminate trapped pressure.

7. Replaceable Bushings

Standard bronze guide bushings wear easily over time and are a burden to rework. But advancements in high-strength composite bushings, such as MTC01 resin fabric from System Seals, are extremely wear resistant and easily replaceable. They offer high load capabilities, and the grooves for new guide bands can be machines right into the old bronze for an easy upgrade.



System Seals is an international research-based seal manufacturer that works in close collaboration with OEMs and maintenance-and-repair customers. The company’s Cleveland-based engineers use state-of-the-art testing and design tools such as finite element analysis to identify and overcome weaknesses in stock seals, as they identify how multiple seals can be optimized together within a seal system. The company serves a wide variety of industries, including metal processing, mining, forging, oil & gas, cylinders and cylinder repair, injection molding, mobile hydraulics, hydraulic presses, pulp and paper, wind energy, compressors, valves and instruments. For more information visit