O-Ring Sealing Technology Latest Developments

Since the 1930s, o-rings have been one of the most widely used sealing solutions in the world. During World War II, about a decade after the seal was first patented, the U.S. military commandeered the technology and put it almost exclusively to military use. However, the technology has found its way to nearly every facet of the industry today, from automobiles to construction.

O-Ring Sealing Technology

And while the familiar circular geometry remains mostly the same, o-ring technology has evolved widely since 1937 to offer a lot more to consumers of the technology. Let's take a look at some of the most recent developments in o-ring technology and why this classic sealing solution remains as relevant as ever.

What's New in O-Ring Technology?

In some ways, o-ring technology has not changed much. The toroidal shape remains and its most pressing application is still as a sealing mechanism. However, what has changed is the performance expectations, and a lot of great successes recorded in the field are due to a desire to make the technology more effective. Users of the sealing solution now have higher expectations and providers of the sealing solution are expected to match these expectations. And they are doing that quite well, especially in these areas:

Material Development

The material used in making an o-ring serves as its most important feature and performance measure. Due to the sensitive nature of o-ring applications (fuel pumps and hydraulic pistons), a failure of the sealing mechanism could lead to potentially fatal accidents (In 1986, an o-ring failure was determined to be the reason of the space shuttle challenger disaster).

Therefore, there is a need for new types of elastomers that can handle wider ranges of temperature and higher pressure levels, and this has lead to the development of compound polymers with statistically-based properties that can be spot-tested in a simulated environment. In response to increasingly demanding applications, seal manufacturers are improving existing materials and coming up with new and more enhanced ones. There are over 20 polymers available to the manufacturer to choose from today. However, despite the availability of information on material technology to the public, you should consider choosing a supplier like Apple Rubber with extensive guides and efficient seal design experts to help you choose the right o-ring and material for your needs.

Currently, all seals are made from a combination of materials that include:

• Polymers (elastomer)

• Inert fillers, such as carbon black

• Accelerators, activators, retarders, and curing agents

• Anti-degradients

• Plasticizers

• Special additives like pigments, flame retardants, etc.

Testing and Characterization

Over the years, there have been many advancements in the analysis and characterization of manufacturing materials, including polymers. Since analytical methods are transferrable, useful analytical techniques in other materials are being translated to analyze and characterize o-rings and other sealing mechanisms with resounding success.

As the average seal user moves away from material specifications to performance specifications of seals, new and improved testing capabilities have been developed to accurately reproduce the end-point effects of hostile environments on o-rings. This makes predictive analysis and failure-modes-effects analysis possible to predict the possible modes and effects of o-ring failures before ever releasing them for use. Also, the more detailed characterization capacity of new testing methods enables the development of new materials through material combinations at a molecular level.

O-Rings Will Continue to Improve

We can now build o-rings better and test them more effectively and this, on the whole, continues to make the sealing solution a favorite in manufacturing.

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TechGlobeX: O-Ring Sealing Technology Latest Developments
O-Ring Sealing Technology Latest Developments
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