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QUALITY CHECKS ON RETAINING RINGS: YOUR RECIPE FOR SUCCESS

With all the recent news stories concerning quality mistakes from overseas and here at home, one may soon develop the opinion that an end product safely meeting the requirements of the consumer suddenly becomes a game of chance.  During these days of automation and mass production, one expects an occasional fly to find its way into the soup, but more often than not, the consequences of such mistakes border on more than the mild frustration of being served a bug and his bath. 

Bearing this in mind, Rotor Clip has taken the lead in alerting buyers of retaining rings —whether or not they are purchased from us—to the most easily discernable characteristics of quality.  The concept of a quality ring, we believe, is no different than the concept of a quality soup.  If all of the ingredients that go into making it meet or exceed your expectations, then one can be assured of a satisfactory product or, in this case, a great tasting soup.  Flies will still happen, but if one brings a little foresight to the table, most will not be mistakenly swallowed. 

CHECK THE PACKAGE

The first impressionable clue to a product’s quality is how it has been packaged.  We’re not suggesting throwing aside every dirty box or botchy tape-job one comes across.  Aesthetics are aesthetics.  Quality is different.  One should always check the level of information detailed on the packaging label.  First, is it to your specified requirements?  Secondly, is the country of origin listed anywhere?  It is a requirement that country of origin be displayed on the box or label; more importantly, you have a right to know where your rings were made.

 

 

Thirdly, look for a lot number on the packaging label(s).  Any supplier anywhere along the chain who will not make his product susceptible to lot traceability should be avoided. 

 

Lot traceability protects suppliers and distributors, just as well as it protects manufacturing and raw material.   If legal action is taken, chances are the easiest target will face litigation, and that may not always be those on the manufacturing side of the supply chain.  Protect yourself and your customers—check that package.

 

VISUAL INSPECTION OF PRODUCT

As when an entrée is plated by a master chef—checked to ensure that the visual is just as perfect as the taste—product should be removed from packaging and visually inspected.  Calibrated equipment may be necessary to verify certain standards, however many obvious quality issues are discernable using only the naked eye.  Check for rust.  Metal fasteners are certainly not immune to oxidation.  These will have passed their shelf-life and usefulness. 

 

Check for distortion.   As seen in the figure below, the minimum section was not properly formed.  This ring probably wouldn’t fit right onto whatever application it is intended, much less retain anything. 

 

Finally, check to ensure the finish uniformly covers the ring.  In the instances where the finish has begun to flake or chip, the ring may rust, resulting in uneven stress applied to the ring wherever it remains unprotected.

 

CRITICAL MEASUREMENTS

Rotor Clip lists on this website, and in its catalog, the proper dimensions by which a retaining ring of a certain size should measure.  Now is the time when tools become necessary.  While one may check diameter or lug size on larger rings with a ruler or identification guide, using a micrometer and/or a vernier will yield more accurate results when checking the critical measurements of smaller rings.  Looking at the diagram below, one will notice that there are numerous individual sections which must all be within the allotted tolerances.  A mistake in any one of these could result in the ring not fitting properly in the groove or—even worse—failing once installed in the application.

HARDNESS

Important enough to be discussed on its own, hardness, when it comes to retaining rings, makes all the difference in the world.  If you possess the equipment to test Rockwell hardness in-house, use it.  Otherwise, send samples out to a certified lab.  Aside from physically bending the steel as easily as a spoon, there really isn’t a prima facie sign that a part is soft.  There is a reason smiths spend days heating and tempering, and there is a reason cooks use fire…it makes food [rings] taste [work] better.  A soft ring could lead to catastrophic failure.  Your supplier should be contacted immediately if you find product not within acceptable Rockwell hardness for its use.  Again, Rotor Clip’s website and catalogue list the expected results for each type ring and steel.  If a measurement is suspect, check with us.

CHECK THE PRINT

The best way to ensure that you receive what you order is to provide your supplier with an up-to-date print. This should reflect accurate information as to the material requirements and specifications your rings should meet. It is also helpful to compare the results of the checks listed above to those listed on the actual print.

We are committed to raising the industry’s awareness of what should and should not be distributed to customers.  To that end, we have put together a quality reference guide entitled “Recipes for Checking the Quality of your Retaining Rings.”  To receive a free print copy, email Rotor Clip’s MARKETING DEPARTMENT.

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