Retaining rings (Circlip) – Types Of Retaining Rings

What is Retaining rings : 

Retaining rings are engineered components used to hold many types of assemblies together. They are precision engineered to accurately position, locate and retain parts on shafts or in bores. The rings are installed into a groove, and all the other components of the assembly sit against and are retained by the ring.

A retaining ring is a fastener that holds components or assemblies onto a shaft or in a housing/bore when installed in a groove. Once installed, the exposed portion acts as a shoulder which retains the specific component or assembly. Circlips are a type of retaining ring.

Self-locking retaining rings may be installed in applications where there is no groove.

Retaining rings are typically made from carbon steel, stainless steel or beryllium copper and may feature a variety of finishes for corrosion protection depending on the type of environment in which they are used.

Retaining Rings
Retaining Rings

Material Used For Retaining Rings :

Standard materials for retaining rings include carbon steel, carbon spring steel, 302 stainless steel, and 316 stainless steel. Other available materials include phosphor bronze, beryllium copper, Inconel, Elgiloy, Hastelloy, and more.

Types Of Retaining Rings :

There are three main types of retaining rings available, each of which may then be broken down into sub-types depending on unique application needs

  • Tapered section
     – Axially assembled
           – Inverted
           – Beveled
           – Bowed
           – Radially assembled
           – Self-locking
  • Constant section / Snap Rings 
  • Spiral
  • Push nut

Tapered section retaining rings

Tapered section retaining rings decrease symmetrically from the center to the free ends, remaining circular when contracted or expanded within the limits of normal use. This assures contact with the groove along the entire periphery of the ring. These rings may be installed axially (horizontally along the center point of an axis) or radially (externally along the radius of a circle). Depending on the size of the ring in question, it may be manufactured in one of two ways:

For smaller rings: using a die and stamping on a press from a coil of steel or copper
For larger rings: wire forming, in which rectangular wire is coiled into the shape of the ring.

Self-locking retaining rings can be installed in a housing/bore or on a shaft that has not had a groove machined into it. Self-locking rings with no lug holes are impossible to remove without either destroying the ring or warping it out of specified tolerances.

Constant section retaining rings /Snap Rings : 
Constant section retaining rings (snap rings) feature a uniform, constant section. In other words, the material used to make the ring is the same width at any point along the circumference of the ring. When they are contracted or expanded, they take on an elliptical deformation. As a result, they contact the groove at three or more isolated points but never continuously around the periphery. These rings are made from either flat or round wire.

Spiral retaining rings ;

Spiral retaining rings are axially installed into housings/bores (internal) or onto shafts (external), making 360° contact with the groove. Spiral retaining rings have no ears or lugs to interfere with the assembly. These rings are manufactured by coiling flat wire into the shape of the finished retaining ring. Spiral rings are provided with a removal notch to simplify the removal process. Spiral Retaining Rings can be economically produced in special alloys like stainless steel because the manufacturing process eliminates scrap.

Push nut

A push nut resembles a toothed washer, commonly fabricated in metal. These are installed by pressing onto the end of a grooved shaft, until the nut’s inner teeth snap into the groove.

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