What are O Rings?

What are O Rings?

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So what exactly are O Rings? What are they used for? Why are they so important? 

Essentially, an O Ring is a mechanical gasket that is shaped like a torus, or in more basic terms, it is a loop comprised of elastomer material with a round cross section. An O Ring is typically designed to fit into a groove and when it's compressed in an assembly of two or more mechanical parts, it creates a seal. 

Because of it's flexibility, O Rings can serve various applications such as dynamic or static applications.

In dynamic applications, there's relative motion between the parts and the O Ring. For instance, dynamic examples are hydraulic cylinder pistons, which functions via piston movement. It is in this movement where O Rings create an essential seal to keep liquids or gases from entering or escaping the seal. 

On the other hand, static applications are non-moving. These seals typically act as a barrier in the mechanical part that blocks liquids or gases from entering or escaping the seal. Typically, O Rings in this mechanism are compressed or pressurized. Since the O Ring is either compressed or pressurized, which results in zero clearance, the O Ring's material vulcanizes and creates a seal that prevents gases or liquids from passing through, and it makes the material resistant from liquid degradation or gas degradation. 

These applications render O Rings one of the most common seals in machine designs. Another reason is that O Rings are relatively inexpensive, thus making it a cheap method to create seals. Additionally, O Rings are easy to make, reliable, and simple to mount on machinery. 

An O Ring's design may look simple, however, its usages are abundant and the way it can be utilized are complex. These cylindrical torus' make for excellent seals and can act as a great alternative for cheap and reliable seals. So in a way, its the simplicity of O Rings that make it so fascinating.  

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