This work provides a theoretical analysis of the elastic behavior of an O-ring compressed between two rigid plates with irregular surfaces. Relations between deflection, contact force and contact pressure are obtained. The contact pressure, which is of fundamental importance in establishing criteria for effective sealing, is dependent upon both the amplitude and wavelength of the surface irregularity. This analysis suggests that surfaces in contact with O-ring seals should be characterized by the root mean square slope Δq in addition to the usual Ra which depends on amplitude only.

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