Retaining ring tutorial, constant section rings
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Retaining rings fall into two general categories: constant section and tapered. Constant section retaining 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.

constant section ring

A tapered section retaining ring features a maximum and minimum section (see figure). As you can see, the width of the material varies significantly at these two points. Tapered retaining rings generally feature lugholes, which are used for assembling the ring using manual or pneumatic tools.

tapered section ring

 

constant section ring, three point contact

It is important to note that the constant section and tapered section retaining ring lines are meant to complement one another. Constant Section rings offer more clearance than tapered section, but generally accommodate less force. Most tapered section rings have lugholes, which can be used to easily install/remove the ring using manual or pneumatic tools. Some Constant Section rings have lugholes, but different cutoff styles require a different installation method that may be cumbersome. The choice depends upon the requirements of your application and taking care to select the appropriate type of ring will maximize efficiencies and costs.

Both ring types are either compressed (for a housing bore) or expanded (for a shaft) and released into a machined groove. The constant section ring, with its uniform material width, is elliptical when installed in the groove, making only three-point contact as shown.

In contrast, tapered section rings make more
circular contact when released in the groove. The maximum section as well as the lugs provide more shoulder with which to retain a component or an assembly than a constant section retaining ring.
 

tapered section ring, uniform contact