What is An O-Ring?

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According to the Oxford Dictionary, an O-ring is a round gaskets that contain a circular cross section which is often made of pliable material (rubber, plastic, etc.) that is used to create a tight seal in connections for pipes, valves, tubes, inlets, outlets, and much more.
O-rings are one of the most common industry-used seals in machine design. This is because they are easy to make, cost effective, reliable, and are easy to install in many cases. O-rings can be designed and fabricated to operate in many conditions such as high or low temperature, under varying pressures, and for various media (the material flowing adjacent to the seal).
Like many components that are used in machinery, O-ring sizes come in both standard and metric.
O-rings were first patented in 1896 by J. O. Lundberg in Sweden. The patent for the O-ring in the United States would not come until 1937 when it was filed by a 72 year old Danish machinist, who also patented an air brake system for streetcars. During World War II, the U.S. government commandeered the patent and gave various factories the right to make it. The original patentee only received $75,000 for the patent in the 1950’s. According to the CPI Inflation Calculator, that is worth about $750,000 in today’s dollars for this billion dollar idea.
Common Uses for O-Rings: If you have ever changed the oil on your car, you may notice a metal ring on the oil plug that is usually replaced when replacing the oil. This is an O-ring. O-rings are also used in various plumbing fixtures around your home that can be seen when disassembling a sink faucet, shower head, etc. In fact, if you were to take apart anything mechanical (even your wrist watch) you would find that it is laden with O-rings throughout.

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