Skip to content

What Are Compressor Rings and How Do They Fail?

Compressor rings are used to provide a tight seal to insulate steam, liquids and gases and prevent them from escaping. Preventing leakages is essential to the continued function of any compressor.

Compressor Rings and Gaskets - KB Delta


When an 0-ring becomes damaged or worn out, you may notice odd noises that eventually will signal a lessening in function. Fortunately, profile rings are among the class of compressor parts that can be replaced.

These thermoplastic rings are made using lathes, mills and only with the latest in technology. Because of the method in which they are created, profile rings are able to work exceptionally well, even into extremely high temperatures. They perform their proper jobs in this high heat in both chemical and mechanical fashions.


How Do O-Rings Work in a Compressor?

If you see an o-ring, it may not immediately strike you as an essential part of a compressor. They are typically either a small cap or a flat, circular piece that is slatted. Both of these types serve the function, however, of tightly sealing chambers in a compressor and providing insulation to steam, gases and liquids. This is important since the internal chambers of a compressor must be entirely leak-proof in order for the tool to function properly. The compressor rings are available in a variety of different materials, and your choice should be made based on the types of chemicals and materials the compressor will be dealing with.

These rings are generally small, circular rings made of various materials. Some of these include:

  • PEEK
  • Carbon PEEK
  • MT
  • Nylon


Why Are They Made of Thermoplastics?

With compressor rings being made to order and custom cut to any needed size, they can accomplish many different functions. Their aerodynamic design enables them to create a superior seal in many hydraulic applications, such in hydraulic presses, construction machinery, valves and many other connections that involve threaded tubing.

With their innovative shape, these rings are able to withstand intense pressure which makes them ideal in uncompromising situations. This also gives them the edge to accommodate for flaws in the machinery that they create the seal between, effectively keeping out steam and other liquids. This helps to ensure that the parts you are running will operate efficiently.

When you think about it, the rubber in sealing rings is an amazing material. It is a recent discovery, only introduced in 1736. It was not until 1700 that Joseph Priestley developed rubber in its first commercial use as a pencil eraser. The usefulness of rubber lies in its elasticity, defined as the ability of rubber to deform reversibly under stress. When placed between two highly inelastic pieces of metal, it deforms to form a seal that is highly impervious to liquid or gas passage, even under extreme temperatures and pressures. Thermoplastics are a modern form of elastic sealing material which forms the basis of high-performance o-rings in compressors.


What Makes Compressor Rings Fail?

Much like our skin, which is also highly elastic when we are young, thermoplastic material loses its inelasticity with age. This process is sped up in the presence of extreme temperatures or caustic materials. In other words, aged profile rings lose the ability to return to its original form. This reduces its ability to form an effective seal.


How Can I Tell if it Needs to Be Replaced?

Thermoplastic failure in a particular system is highly predictable. When one seal begins to fail, the others will soon follow. For this reason, it is a good idea to replace seals at the first sign of degradation, or alternately, on a fixed time schedule. Keep in mind that because thermoplastic failure is extremely likely, it is always an excellent choice to repair or replace seals on a fixed time schedule or at the first sign of degradation.

Rings don’t last forever, but they are an easily replaced part in your compressor. How can you tell when it might be time to install a new set, though? There are a few signs you can look out for that indicate your profile rings may be getting worn out:


  • Strange noises coming from the chambers where the compressor rings are in use
  • Leaks indicating they no longer provide a perfect seal
  • Visible wear on the pieces themselves
  • Loss of pressure in compressor’s chambers
  • Aging


Once you have identified that your profile rings should be replaced, you should likely replace all of them in your compressor. Your profile rings work in tangent to maintain consistent pressure and seal in a compressor’s chambers, so this balance is upset when on ring needs to be replaced.


Radius Rings - KB Delta


What Other Parts of My Compressor May Need Replacement?

O-rings are one of the most easily worn parts in your compressor, but there are many other pieces that you might need to replace eventually, too. Keep an eye on all of the following for signs of wear and eventual failure:

  • Gaskets
  • Washers, bolts and nuts
  • Springs

Every piece of a compressor plays an important part, no matter how small that piece might be. Caring for your entire system and tending to parts that need repair or replacement can go a long way in extending the lifetime of your entire compressor and preventing damage. This is particularly important for compressors used in commercial and industrial environments. Rather than waiting until something goes wrong, consider proactive maintenance and other easy ways to keep it in fantastic condition.


Finding the Right Ring for You

Compressor rings are generally made to order with the person ordering giving exact specifications. The rings are then formed in an exceedingly precise manner to ensure the perfect fit, no matter what you are using them for. Finding the size that you require can really only be done by someone with suitable knowledge and equipment experience. Having accurate and detailed measurements will get you the correct dimensions and will guarantee a flawless seal for whatever you might need.


Customized Design for Optimal Function

A compressor ring, like many machine parts, has a “Goldilocks’ Zone“. You need to avoid rings that are too big or too small and shoot for the size that is just right. For a replacement ring, you can get an accurate measurement to use for purchasing.

Depending on the specific use of any type of ring, rings can be designed and cut according to custom specifications. Having rings specially made is the best way to ensure a perfect fit with maximum imperviousness. The highest-quality rings are made with top-of-the-line instruments in order to achieve optimal precision in measurements.


Choosing a Material for Compressor Rings

Compressor rings can be made with several types of materials. Crucial attributes include the ability to withstand extremely high temperatures and pressures. For this reason, thermoplastics usually form the base of any type of ring, contributing an advanced structure of elastic sealant. Additional materials can include PEEK, carbon PEEK, MT and nylon. All of these substances have varying degrees of flexibility, temperature resistance and pressure resistance.

In some settings, profile rings need to withstand not just high temperatures and pressure, but also extreme fluctuations in either or both. When choosing replacement rings, it is important to consider their specific intended use. This ensures that they can be made with the materials and construction that is best for that use.


Regular Inspection

Keeping all parts of any compressor in good order and replacing them as necessary will keep your machines working longer and better. O-rings are small, yet essential, parts that are vital for optimal functioning. As part of your compressor’s regular maintenance routine, be sure to include a comprehensive check of compressor rings. These can wear out, crack or break quickly due to the immense pressures and heat they can be subject to.

Rings are a vital component to any compressor, and should be supplied by a trusted manufacturer who produces high quality results. Before you complete an online order, double check that you are getting the best quality material, the right size for your machine and a product that has been checked over for flatness.


Final Thought

There are a myriad of uses your compressor might have. Perhaps it is used, as it commonly is, in industries such as aerospace, medical manufacturing, electronics, automotive manufacturing and dozens of other industries where compressors play an integral part in the process of manufacturing and developing products. Compressors are an invaluable resource, but what parts of the compressor are most important?

Each unit is made of many different parts, and each has a different purpose, but one of the most important aspects of any compressor is its o-rings. These small parts are responsible for giving seals to compressors, so their quality must be impeccable.

Contact Us for O-Rings or Other Rings for Compressors - KB Delta

Posted in
Skip to content