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Analyzing Metal Contamination in Piston Rings

Piston rings
Piston rings

Application—Piston Ring Contamination Analysis

Pistons reciprocate inside the cylinders of an internal combustion engine. To ensure that the piston can move freely up and down, its outer diameter is slightly smaller than that of the cylinder liner. Piston rings are attached around the piston, and engine oil is applied between the piston rings and the cylinder liner to ensure a proper seal in the combustion chamber. The clearance between the piston ring and cylinder liner inner wall is very small, usually only a few micrometer (μm).
With such a small clearance, even microscopic contamination can result in failure. If, during manufacturing, metal contamination remains on the side surface of a piston ring, the cylinder’s liner inner wall can be damaged. This damage contributes to a risk of engine problems, such as insufficient sealing of the combustion chamber or improper reciprocation of the piston. Besides thoroughly cleaning finished products, an important quality management step is to perform contamination analysis using an inspection method that verifies that the piston rings are contamination free.

Solution Using the OLYMPUS CIX100 Technical Cleanliness Inspection System

There are several advantages to analyzing piston rings using the OLYMPUS CIX100 technical cleanliness inspection system: 

  1. Olympus UIS2 objective lenses provide reduced aberration fluctuation, offering a reliable, high-quality optical performance where even minute metal contamination can be captured as an image.
  2. Conventional contamination inspection systems need to perform two scans, one for metal contaminants and one for nonmetal. Olympus' unique optical technology enables the OLYMPUS CIX100 system to detect metal/nonmetal particles in one scan, so you get your inspection results quickly.
  3. The OLYMPUS CIX100 cleanliness inspector is an integrated system that combines dedicated hardware and software, providing consistent inspection results with high reproducibility and stability.
  4. Using the system software, you can generate inspection reports complying with industrial standards that regulate contamination inspection or configure personalized parameters in accordance with your standards. Retrieving past inspection reports is easy, so you can quickly respond to inspection data requests of customers


Piston Ring Contamination Analysis
Contamination analysis case example

Olympus IMS

Products used for this application


The OLYMPUS CIX100 inspection system is a dedicated, turnkey solution for manufacturers who maintain the highest quality standards for the cleanliness of manufactured components. Quickly acquire, process, and document technical cleanliness inspection data to comply with company and international standards. The system’s intuitive software guides users through each step of the process so even novice operators can acquire cleanliness data quickly and easily.
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