Understanding O-Ring Technology: Design, Material & Everything in Between

Understanding O-Ring Technology: Design, Material & Everything in Between

Chances are you’ve come across o-rings at some point in your life. The popular sealing solution has been around since the late 1930’s and is used in everything from car engines to refrigerators to scuba diving equipment. In recent years, the donut-shaped device has become even more effective thanks to recent technological advancements in material, design and testing. Check out some of the o-ring advancements below and gain a new appreciation for old technology.  

New Design Developments 

The o-ring is more effective than ever in sealing gasses and liquids in the modern equipment we use. Its increased performance is due to the torus design. The round cross-section allows it to be seated in a groove and compressed between two parts and essentially sealing it. 

Smaller cross-section o-ring designs are more compact, lighter weight and less expensive when higher cost materials are used. Smaller o-rings are more resistant to explosive decompression as well. Larger o-ring cross-section design, on the other hand, are less prone to compression set, and are less likely to leak from dirt, debris and scratching.

Groove design is essential in o-rings. The three main groove designs are industrial static (radial), industrial reciprocating (dynamic) and face seals. Groove design is a scientific term used to describe how the o-ring deforms, spreads out and properly seals in specific applications.

O-Ring Materials 

O-rings are made from a variety of materials and chemical properties. The most common types of o-rings are molded from elastomer, which is a polymer with both viscous and elastic properties. It’s similar to the tires on your car. Other materials used are PTFE, thermoplastic materials, and even metal and stainless steel. Here are some of the more popular materials used in the market.

Nitrile Butadiene Rubber (NBR) is found in the automotive, aircraft and marine applications that use water, oils and other mechanical fluids in the engine. They are popular because of they are cost effective, have a high resistance to abrasion and possess a good tensile strength.

Viton o-rings, also known as fluorocarbon, are similar to NBR o-rings but have a better tolerance for high temperatures and challenging environments. They are resistant to oils, fuels, hydraulic fluids and other chemicals. Viton is made of fluoropolymer elastomer and synthetic rubber compounds. 

Silicone o-rings are used in hundreds of applications. They are popular in the pharmaceutical and medical industries because they are odorless and non-toxic. Silicone is known for having one of the broadest working temperature ranges. Another benefit of silicone is that it can be compounded, so it becomes flame retardant and resistant to electricity.

Neoprene is a chloroprene rubber that is common in refrigeration and air conditioning units. It is highly resistant to tears, flexing and natural sunlight. The material holds up to weathering.

Testing and Characteristics 

O-rings have been tried and tested over the years. Some of the testing methods include hardness, compression set, tensile strength, chemical and heat aging. These tests are vital because they help establish an o-rings capacity, define limitations, create ranges and specifications which directly relate to safety and performance.

The Perfect Solution 

For such a small piece of engineering, o-rings play a huge role in our existence. From aerospace to dentistry, lawnmowers to kitchen sinks, o-rings continue to benefit our lives in many ways. 

About the author


Kristi Lopez

Kristi Lopez is working as a professional news editor at The Next Hint, Inc. She is accustomed to finding daily reports. Therefore, this keen working and addiction towards her work, it helps her to find good news.

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