Seal is a device that helps join systems or mechanisms together by preventing leakage (e.g. in a pumping system), containing pressure, or excluding contamination. The effectiveness of a seal is dependent on adhesion in the case of sealants and compression in the case of gaskets. A stationary seal may also be referred to as ‘packing’.
O-ring, also known as a packing or a toric joint, is a mechanical gasket in the shape of a torus; it is a loop of elastomer with a round cross-section, designed to be seated in a groove and compressed during assembly between two or more parts, creating a seal at the interface.
The O-ring may be used in static applications or in dynamic applications where there is relative motion between the parts and the O-ring. Dynamic examples include rotating pump shafts and hydraulic cylinder pistons. Static applications of O-rings may include fluid or gas sealing applications in which: (1) the O-ring is compressed resulting in zero clearance, (2) the O-ring material is vulcanized solid such that it is impermeable to the fluid or gas, and (3) the O-ring material is resistant to degradation by the fluid or gas.
O-rings are one of the most common seals used in machine design because they are inexpensive, easy to make, reliable and have simple mounting requirements. They have been tested to seal up to 5000 psi (35 megapascals) of pressure. The maximum recommended pressure of an O-ring seal depends on the seal hardness and gland clearance.