Retaining Rings: Small Components with a Big Impact

What Is a Retaining Ring?

A retaining ring is a fastening component that securely holds parts in position on a shaft (external) or within a housing/bore (internal) in mechanical assemblies. Creating an artificial shoulder or joining two components together, retaining rings offer minimal surface preparation and reduced mass compared to cotter pins and bolts. Retaining rings are particularly useful in applications where axial force is present, preventing unwanted movement and maintaining alignment. They provide a cost-effective and efficient solution for secure fastening across various industries, including automotive, military, medical, aerospace, energy and beyond. There are many styles and names of retaining rings, each with their own unique properties and advantages: tapered or constant section, spiral, circlips, snap rings, e-rings, c-clips and more. Learn about the differing styles of rings Rotor Clip produces.

Why Should You Consider Using a Retaining Ring?

When considering secure fastening in machinery and equipment, a retaining ring stands out as a superior choice compared to traditional fastening methods. Firstly, these components securely hold parts in position, preventing shifting or loosening during operation. This improves overall performance and reduces the risk of damage or failure of an assembly. Retaining rings eliminates the need for additional fasteners or machining processes, offering a convenient and cost-effective solution. Moreover, these versatile components are easy to install, adjust, or remove as needed. With their superior strength, versatility, and efficiency, choosing a retaining ring over alternative fasteners is an optimal decision for ensuring stability, reliability, and ease of maintenance in machinery and equipment.

What Types of Retaining Rings Are Available?

Rotor Clip is proud to be the only manufacturer of every style of retaining ring. With our precision manufacturing capabilities, we offer nearly 20,000 standard parts, as well as custom parts in sizes ranging from .040″ to 47″ (1 mm to 1200 mm). Coiled from wire or stamped from strip, we engineer the right retaining ring solution for the right application, every time. Let’s delve into the 8 main types of retaining rings we offer.

Tapered Section Retaining Rings / Circlips: Tapered section rings, commonly known as circlips, provide secure and reliable retention, strong grip, and contact with the groove. Featuring lugs and lug holes for easy installation and removal, they provide a reliable and secure assembly solution.

Constant Section Retaining Rings / Snap Rings: Constant section retaining rings, also known as snap rings, maintain a uniform cross-section throughout their circumference. Their lug free design makes them ideal for tight clearances, providing consistent and reliable retention for components in high-speed or high-vibration environments. Heavy duty rings are often specified for impact loading and can be commonly found in industries such as the Oil & Gas industry and Off-highway / Agricultural equipment industries.

Radial Rings (C-Clips, E-Rings, and Poodle Rings): These rings offer simplicity, variety, and functional design. Unlike axially installed rings, radial rings are designed for installation directly in place onto the groove without worrying about expansion over the shaft or obstruction from other components during installation. With an open-ended design, they provide a shoulder for retaining components on shafts, offering a reliable and straightforward solution for secure and efficient component retention. Some ring styles do not even require a groove!

Bowed and Beveled Retaining Rings: Beveled and bowed retaining rings offer distinct benefits to other rings in the tapered section families. Both bowed and beveled rings provide endplay take-up which minimizes or negates space between components caused by tolerance stacking variation and keeps components tightly together.

Spiral Retaining Rings: Unlike traditional snap rings, spiral retaining rings are coiled from flat wire. Spiral rings can be wound into the groove without tools, and most can be removed with simple tools such as a screwdriver – perfect for assemblies that require frequent disassembly. Spiral rings fit many applications with a wide variety of single and multi-turn catalog standards available. Custom rings with specific diameters, cross sections, and/or material grades can often be designed without any additional tooling charge. With minimal scrap, they are ideal for production in both 302 and 316 stainless, or exotic alloys like Inconel and Elgiloy.

Custom Retaining Rings: Sometimes the standard choice does not match the unique requirements of an application. Rotor Clip goes beyond standard offerings with our custom retaining ring options, tailoring precision-engineered solutions to meet the unique requirements of an application. Our expert engineering team collaborates with you to design and manufacture custom retaining rings that address specific challenges and ensure optimal performance. From material selection to intricate design details, we offer a comprehensive customization process, providing the perfect solution for your distinct needs.

Speak to our engineering team.

Overall, the choice of retaining ring depends on factors like the type of assembly, available space, axial load requirements, rotational requirements and ease of installation and removal. The features and benefits should be assessed to ensure the optimal ring is selected for the right application.

How Are Retaining Rings Made?

Retaining rings are manufactured through a precise and intricate process that involves various steps. With Rotor Clip’s vertical integration, we have the advantage of controlling and overseeing every aspect of this production process. It begins with careful selection of raw materials, like stainless or carbon steel, which later undergo heat treatment processes to impart desired mechanical properties. These materials are then fed into advanced stamping and forming machines equipped with specialized tooling and dies. These tools shape the material into the specific design of the retaining ring, ensuring precise dimensions and accurate features. The rings are then subjected to various finishing processes, such as deburring or surface coating and plating’s, to enhance their functionality and appearance.

During the production cycle, quality control measures are implemented to inspect and verify each ring’s compliance with industry standards. Advanced manufacturing techniques, such as coiled or stamped engineering are leveraged to provide custom solutions tailored to specific requirements. This enables efficient production, shorter lead times, and the ability to swiftly respond to customer demands or modifications without compromising on quality.

infographic showing rotor clip vertically integrated manufacturing

Retaining rings brings stability, reliability, and ease of maintenance to machinery and equipment across industries and Rotor Clip has been the expert for over 65 years. Whether you need a standard or custom retaining ring, a spiral ring, circlip, or snap ring, we are the only manufacturer who can offer every style on the market. Let us guide you in selecting the right retaining ring solution for your application. Speak to our team today.

More than Parts. A True Partnership.

Our passion is creating the best rings, springs, and clamps. Our mission is to make your work a success. We are here for you.