E-Clips are a radially assembled tapered section retaining ring. With three points of contact they provide a larger surface for retaining, and yield a higher thrust load capacity than other types of external rings.
As discussed in a previous post, retaining rings are designed to restrict the movement of mating components and keep them securely in place during operation. By creating a shoulder to retain the assembly, retaining rings are a cost-effective solution, reducing the need for threaded fasteners or machining shoulders on to components. They can be used to replace cotter pins or other traditional fasteners in a number of applications.
Composed of thin metal, retaining rings are generally either stamped, machined, or made from coiled wire.
They function by being fitted into a machined groove, either on the inside of a bore, or the outside of a shaft. Once in place they reduce vibration, maintain placement of two parts of an assembly, and withstand axial loading.
Stamped retaining rings are manufactured from sheet metal and feature twin lugs, a.k.a. ears. They’re most cost-effective when used with small diameters, but because the stamping process causes excess scrap, their cost efficiency decreases for larger diameters.
Many retaining rings, such as C-clips, require snap ring pliers to install and remove them easily. The pliers are simply inserted into holes in the ears to separate or compress the ends as needed so the ring can clear the shaft or bore. E-clips do not have the holes in the ears as do other retaining rings. Therefore an E-clip remover/installer tool should be used, especially for installation. However, E-clips can often be removed using a pair of needle nose pliers or even a Flathead screwdriver. In a pinch, you can also tap them in place with a hammer.
E-clips are a popular type of stamped retaining ring. They’re pressed radially onto a standard or stepped shaft groove. Similar to other kinds of stamped rings, they become less cost-effective as the diameter increases. E-clips are most effective in applications where it’s best to avoid sliding a ring along the axis of a shaft.
They can be manufactured from high strength carbon steel for applications in which there will be no exposure to corrosive elements. Stainless steel can be used when corrosion is a potential factor. Engineered copper alloys or other exotic alloys can also be used for high-temperature environments. They can also receive different types of platings or coatings to help them withstand harsh environments.
E-clips typically range in size from 1/16” to 7/8” and are commonly used in the automotive industry, but are also used in any application/industry from pinball machines to medical equipment where components need to be held in place on a shaft.