Many different types of machinery depend on O-rings. Without them, your equipment may not work well and, in some cases, be unsafe. If you are an engineer, you will likely need to incorporate an O-ring in almost any mechanical design. Here is more information about O-rings, how they work, and what equipment needs them.
What Are O-Rings?
O-rings are essentially a specialized type of seal or gasket. They provide a seal between two parts to prevent air and fluid leaks. Like most gaskets, they fill in imperfections between the two parts. O-rings work very well with high-pressure applications and tend to be durable.
You can find O-rings made with a variety of materials and thicknesses. Rubber and soft plastics are some of the most commonly used materials, which means that most O-rings are soft and flexible. However, you can also find them made out of harder plastics.
There are two main different types of O-rings. The first is a static O-ring, which you would use between two parts that don’t move. For example, you would use a static O-ring to seal an oil or fluid drain plug. Static O-rings are widely used and very common.
A less common O-ring type is the dynamic O-ring. This O-ring needs to withstand movement and pressure changes, so they are made of more durable materials that are resistant to friction.
Where Are O-Rings Used?
Everything from industrial equipment to household appliances has O-rings. You might find O-rings in:
- Automotive applications such as your oil pan’s drain plugs or brake equipment
- Scuba gear as a seal to prevent air leaks
- Electronic products to keep dust out of components
- Industrial equipment to keep air and fluid contained and at the right pressure
- Medical equipment to keep out leaks in filters and connectors
- Aerospace applications as an important component for several different parts
How Do O-Rings Work?
O-rings are most commonly placed inside a machined groove on one of the two surfaces to be joined. The O-ring creates a typical seal when you put the parts together. The material is soft and pliable and molds itself into position. In most applications, this simple seal is sufficient.
However, O-rings work a bit differently at higher pressures. When you use an O-ring at higher pressure, the O-ring will distort and push itself onto the lower-pressure side of the groove. In some cases, this can cause a better seal.
Once the pressure resides, the seal goes back to its original shape. However, continuous high pressure can damage the seal, so be sure you choose the correct O-ring material.
What Are Signs of O-Ring Failure?
The main sign of O-ring failure is pressure loss or leaks. A good example is with a car’s oil pan drain plug seal. When the O-ring begins to fail, you will see drops of oil on your garage floor. You would see the same type of leak in other equipment under the same circumstances.
If you use the wrong size and type of O-ring, you will have a higher chance of problems. Not only do you need to know the diameter of the O-ring you need, but you also need to know the design, thickness, and type of material. If you choose an O-ring that is too thin or the wrong design, it will not last long and may be ineffective from the start.
Though they are small and seem insignificant, O-rings are important parts for many different pieces of equipment. And though O-rings are generally durable, they can wear out. Sometimes, you may need a new one after you repair a piece of equipment. If you need a new set of O-rings, contact Accurate Products Inc. We make several different O-ring sizes and thicknesses for a variety of needs. Check out our size charts and call us to see how we can be your supplier.