The O-ring is a manufacturing component that has been around for over a century. Thanks to their design simplicity and practical nature, O-rings remain in widespread use to this day. Their function is as simple as their design, which serves to create a tight, leak-proof seal between two components. They are very similar to gaskets, although O-rings are normally used in higher-pressure environments where other seals parts would fail. O-rings work by sitting between two other pieces that will be connected. The O-ring lies in the connective joint between the two parts where, once under pressure, will shift around causing it to more tightly hold onto the inner and outer walls of the pieces it’s connecting.
Despite being a very simple part, O-rings come in a variety of types and materials. Some of the materials they’re made from include rubber, nitrile, silicone, fluorocarbon elastomer, metal, stainless steel, and NBR, a type of elastomer part. O-ring uses are as varied as the materials they come from. Here are just a few of them:
Engines: O-rings in aircraft engines need to be able to handle a wide variety of temperature and pressure. Engines also need a special O-ring that is able to withstand the oil present in an engine without deteriorating.
Plumbing: O-rings are highly important in plumbing to ensure piping from sinks, toilets, baths, etc. will not leak.
Aircrafts: Aerospace and aviation O-rings need to be chemically resistant and able to withstand a barrage of temperature and pressure changes. You will find O-rings all around an aircraft, as their applications include fuel cap gaskets, fuel system O-rings, and valve cover seals.
Although O-rings are an incredibly basic piece of technology, they are a vital component of many manufactured goods.