Piston Rings and Their Importance for Aircraft Engines

Pistons are essential for the standard operations of many aircraft engines, serving to transfer the power of ignited fuel-and-air mixtures to a crankshaft for the means of driving a propeller assembly. While the piston is the element that transfers energy, the combustion of the fuel-and-air mixture takes place within each cylinder. With a small metallic split ring known as a piston ring, a seal is established between the piston and the wall of the cylinder liner. Alongside acting as a seal, the piston ring has other various duties that benefit the overall functionality of the assembly as a whole. In this blog, we will discuss piston rings briefly, allowing you to better understand their design and use.

Most piston rings are produced from cast iron or steel, and they are placed around the outer diameter of the piston. With their ability to provide an efficient seal for the combustion chamber and cylinders, piston rings mitigate the amount of gas loss that occurs for the benefit of the crankcase. Furthermore, they enhance the heat transfer between the piston and cylinder wall, allowing for a proper temperature to be maintained throughout operations. Alongside heat transfer, piston rings also help manage the quantity of oil that is provided to the piston and cylinder walls, further lubricating and cooling all parts. As a last major benefit, the piston ring assists in the regulation of engine oil consumption by scraping oil from the walls of the cylinder so that it can return to the sump.

Despite their advantages, piston rings do create friction which can be detrimental to overall engine performance. Generally, piston rings will account for almost a quarter of the total mechanical friction losses of the engine as a result of their operations. Because of this, piston rings will often be designed to optimally balance friction mitigation, sealing capabilities, and average lifespans.

In order for a piston ring to function with high efficiency, lubrication is very important. When choosing motor oil, high temperature resistance, high-speed speed sliding contact, and ample environmental protection are crucial. As the piston rings exhibit an oscillating motion, rather than a continuous rotation as is seen with other similar parts, proper lubrication can be somewhat difficult. When a piston reaches the limit of its movement, the ring will move in the reverse direction. As movement is reversed, the typical oil wedge is disrupted, resulting in a loss of overall lubrication effectiveness.

Depending on one’s needs, there are a few common types of piston rings that one may take advantage of. Generally, the most widely used piston rings that cater to small engines are the compression ring, wiper ring, and oil ring. As each ring slightly differs in its capabilities, it is important that a purchasing decision is made based on the requirements of the application and other various factors. If you find yourself in the market for top-quality piston ring components such as a compression ring, wiper ring, or oil ring, look no further than Aerospace Sphere.

Aerospace Sphere is a premier supplier of aviation, NSN, and electronic parts, presenting customers access to an unrivaled collection of products that have come from industry-leading manufacturers. With over 2 billion items readily available for purchase at any time from our database, customers are invited to explore our expansive part catalogs at their leisure. With our online RFQ service, customers can request quotes for their comparisons with ease, and responses to submitted forms are always given within 15 minutes or less. If you have any questions or concerns regarding our offerings and services, call or email one of our representatives, and they would be more than happy to assist you however they can! At Aerospace Sphere, we are more than just a dependable distributor of parts; we are your strategic sourcing partner for all your operational needs.


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