AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 0056B ACCREDITED

What Are Retainer Rings and Their Types?

Retainer rings may not be the first piece of hardware most people think of, but they perform an essential function in industrial operations comparable to more recognized components like nuts and bolts. As the name suggests, retainer rings are circular-shaped fasteners that retain components on a shaft or bore. Having a simple but effective ring-shaped design, they can come in a broad selection of sizes and materials to suit different applications. In automobiles, for example, you would be likely to find retaining rings in systems like powertrain, steering, and transmission assembly equipment. However, while available in different styles, all retaining rings work in the same way. Here in this blog, we will discuss the ways in which retaining rings function and can be used.

Also known as snap rings or snap clips, retaining rings are circular-shaped fasteners that are designed to create a “shoulder” on a shaft or bore that holds the respective part in place. Serving as a highly versatile form of hardware, they come in many design variations that cater to different operations. Firstly, there are axially assembled retaining rings which consist of a tapered ring that is installed axially, meaning that they must be placed onto the end of a shaft or bore and then slid down to a machined groove. Once they are installed, the rings provide a protrusion for retaining parts. Radially assembled retaining rings accomplish the same purpose, but can only be installed externally onto a shaft. Rather than creating a full circle, they have a wide opening on one end which allows them to be “snapped” over a shaft.

Another common type of retaining ring is the beveled variety which has a generated beveled edge to facilitate a more secure hold. Typically set at a 15 degree angle, the beveled edge on these rings prevents them from moving around. Locking retaining rings go even further, being designed to securely lock in place for one-time-use only. Their self-locking feature consists of a dimple on the inside turn that “locks” into a slot on the outside turn. Additionally, there are spiral rings, a style which involves a ring that has two ends which overlap to create a full circle while maintaining an open section that remains closed until needed. Finally, there are constant section rings that are characterized by their uniform, circular design. They are typically made from round wire and are often specified for heavy-duty or impact-loading applications for their durable design.

Retaining rings have found use in a vast array of applications and industries for their simple but dependable functionality. When a part needs to be securely held in place, retaining rings are a lightweight, durable solution. As evidence, they are frequently found in engine assemblies where they help secure pistons, valves, cylinder head covers, and other key components. Retaining rings also find extensive use in the automotive industry where they are used to secure different parts of a car together, including the springs in suspension equipment.

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