O-rings and gaskets are two common hardware components that are regularly compared to one another, both often being used to produce a seal between two or more mating components. O-rings and gaskets are found in countless assemblies ranging from plumbing assemblies to advanced machinery, serving to prevent leaking for the benefit of assemblies. Despite their shared role, both components do have their own unique designs and features that set them apart.
An O-ring, or packing joint, is a type of mechanical seal that comes in the form of an elastomer material cut into a circular-shaped piece. True to their name, O-rings have a hollow center, allowing them to establish a seal between mating components without constricting the flow of materials. Highly resistant to pressure, some O-rings are capable of taking on force upwards of 5,000 pounds per square inch (PSI). With their design and capabilities, O-rings prevent the leaking of liquids and gases. With their circular and hollow construction, O-rings are generally situated on cylindrical-shaped components, fitting into the grooves of pipes, hoses, and other structural pieces. To best act as hydraulic seals, O-rings will deform under the pressure of mating components in order to fill up any potential gaps that may be present.
Gaskets are also seals, though they are simply a flat piece of material. O-rings are actually considered to be a type of gasket, though not all gaskets follow the same design and characteristics of O-rings. Typically, O-ring gaskets are manufactured from an elastomer material, ensuring that they are able to stretch, compress, and revert to their original state to maintain a set shape and size without breaking due to fatigue. General gaskets, meanwhile, may be produced from any material as desired. While there are many gaskets that are made from elastomer, others may also be produced with more robust materials such as various metals. This type of gasket may be found in assemblies such as an automobile engine, the cylinder head and engine block featuring a metal gasket between them for proper operations.
Gaskets may also widely vary in their shapes as well. While O-rings are always circular due to their standardized design, gaskets are much more flexible as they may be customized as needed to fit any simple or complex surface. This is highly beneficial for assemblies where more than two mating surfaces meet. While a simplistic assembly may be able to benefit from the addition of an O-ring, a complex assembly with four or more surfaces most likely will require a custom produced gasket that will accommodate the specific needs of the apparatus.
While O-rings are considered to be a type of gasket and both components act to prevent leaks in a system, it is important to understand the difference between each to ensure that the proper materials are chosen for a given requirements. Depending upon the materials of the gaskets or O-rings, service lives may range, and it is imperative that aging seals are replaced as necessary to prevent part failures or leaks. When you are in the market for various hydraulic seals and other sealing components, there is no better alternative to ASAP Fasteners.
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