In the early 1930s, inventor Niels Christensen created a small part called the o-rings. As the Inventors notes, Christensen was busy working on automobile brakes when he perfected the round rubber o-ring, which he discovered would create a tight and reliable seal within the piston. Christensen received a patent for it in 1937; since then, this small but ubiquitous part has found a home in a number of industries.

In fact, if Christensen was alive today, he would probably be pleasantly surprised to see how many innovative uses his seemingly simple o-ring has. As well as the number of industries in which they are used. To delve into this topic a bit more, let’s start off by looking at the more common uses of o-rings. And then examine some ways they are used that may surprise you.

O Rings
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From the Medical Industry to Food and Beverage Equipment

There are a number of industries that are known for their use of o-rings. For instance, pretty much any product that involves needing a tight seal will require at least one o-ring. In the medical industry, syringes and pumps require specific types of FDA-grade o-rings that will allow these vital products to function effectively and accurately. In the automotive industry, gas pumps, storage tanks, and valves must have a reliable sealing solution. That will withstand the harsh chemicals and temperature extremes without breaking down — as you probably guessed, o-rings are found in all of these systems.

It is important to note that while o-rings are used in a number of industries. They are not all the same; depending on what types of chemicals and conditions they are exposed to, o-rings are made from different materials. For example, the Viton fluorocarbon o-rings are ideal for conditions that require high-temperature and chemical resistance. They are commonly used as seals for aircraft engines, automotive fuel handling systems and anything that inherently features a wide number of chemicals.

Less Common Uses of O-Rings

If you or anyone you know enjoy vaping, you are helping to support the o-ring industry. Vapes typically comes with extra o-rings that the user should eventually replace. Simply put, they help to prevent the vape juice from leaking out between the tank and other parts of the device. Over time, vapers will see either that the tank is slipping around a bit or that there is some leakage taking place; when this happens, it’s time to replace it. As you might suspect, it takes a bit of practice to get the hang of putting in a new o-ring.

Fortunately, there are a number of videos on YouTube that offer step-by-step instructions on how to do it correctly and safely. Other less commonly known uses for o-rings include dental implants that fit over existing dentures and those include ball attachments. Moreover, it will keep liquid out of the implants. And for those who enjoy paintball, the guns and tanks also include it. That help ensures that air is not leaking out and that everything functions properly.

Don’t Let Their Size Fool You

O-rings are a classic example of how even the smallest part is extremely important. Without them, a number of products would cease to function properly. It may even become dangerous in the case of an automobile or airplane. It will be exciting to see how it will be used in even more devices and systems in the future.

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Ana is full time teacher, consultant and passionate writer!

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