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Circlips are circular shaped clips made out of semi-flexible metal. They are generally used to keep components fitted on shafts or housings and with bearings used for mechanisms that twist, spin, turn or pivot. They are also sometimes referred to as retaining rings or snap rings.


Circlips tend to have open ends rather than making a complete circle. The open ended design gives the circlips a spring pressure effect. Once fitted in place, the spring effect ensures that they do not move or slip. Many circlips have a small hole at either end. This allows for the installation or removal of the circlip pliers. Normally, specialised circlip pliers are used for this. They have specific sized tips that fit into the small holes within the circlip.


E type circlips, or E-Clips are also very popular. They do not require installation with specialised circlip pliers and are mounted radially, rather than axially. They are easy to remove and install.

Internal and External circlips – Depending on the application, you will require either an internal or external circlip: Internal circlips are fitted within a cylindrical bore, groove or housing and exert pressure outwards. External circlips work in the opposite direction. They exert pressure inwards and normally fit around the outside of a cylinder or shaft.