Machinery often holds pressurized liquids or gasses, and the mating surfaces between such components routinely feature an O-ring or lip ring. While both of these components seal mating surfaces to prevent leaks, they are slightly different from one another. Those interested in learning more about the differences between O-rings and lip rings are encouraged to read the following blog.
In order to understand their differences, it is important to know the structure and function of both O-rings and lip rings. To start, O-rings are elastomeric, mechanical seals that are circular in shape; typically made of an elastic material, these rings expand when exposed to heat and pressure, and when cooled, they return to their original size and shape. This means that they are built to withstand pressure while keeping the environment sealed inside a system free from leaks or contaminants. Although lip rings are also made from an elastomeric material with a ring-shaped design, they differ from O-rings in that they feature a groove around the inner perimeter.
Despite their similar shape, the inner groove or lip of a lip ring allows them to fit inside a notched mating surface, while O-rings feature a totally smooth interior and exterior. In general, these two ring types are employed in different sealing applications, as O-rings tend to be used in reciprocating seals, while lip rings tend to find use as rotating shaft seals.
Initially developed at the start of the 20th century, O-rings were fabricated as incredibly simple components which are still widely used to this day. Additionally, they have remained similar in form and function since their introduction. O-ring seals are part of a flexible range of O-ring kits, and they consist of a donut-shaped component. Their main function is to create a tight seal between two other components so that gasses and liquids are unable to escape, and they are often utilized in high-pressure environments in which a cork or regular gasket would likely fail. Moreover, they work by sitting inside a groove or channel between two different surfaces/components that will be mated. With pressure, the O-ring distorts inside the groove, improving its overall sealing force up to a certain pressure before it begins to fail. Overall, this is why it is important to obtain the correct balance between its material, size, and working environment. As such, O-rings are often used to seal joints between separate parts in applications including pumps, cylinders, connectors, and valves.
On the other hand, lip rings feature a flexible lip which can compensate for large tolerances and the presence of gaps between the sealing surfaces. This lip is meant to face the source of pressure which benefits the seal in two ways: first, the lip is energized by the pressure source to increase its sealing force of the mating hardware, and second, the resiliency of the material and its flexibility will compensate for the variations in their clearance gap. This makes them perfect to utilize in applications that require overcoming hardware tolerances and clearance gaps in axial applications.
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