Types of springs and their applications
The most common way to classify springs is by how load is applied to them. You’re probably familiar with the following:
- Compression spring: designed to operate with a compressive load and found in shock absorbers, spring mattresses, mechanical pencils, and retractable pens.
- Extension spring: designed to operate with a tensile load. An archetypical example is a Slinky, but these are also found in luggage scales and garage door mechanisms.
- Torsion spring: designed to operate with torque (twisting force); powers every clothespin and mouse trap.
Manufacturing of Springs
Springs can also be classified by how they’re made. The first spring that comes to most people’s minds is probably a metal coil spring, also known as a helical spring. However, there are many other types. Even an elastic band can be considered a variable rate spring, since it stores mechanical energy.
Lightweight coil springs are made by forming metal wires on an CNC coiling machine. The multi-axis CNC control allows you to create variable pitches and end conditions only limited by your imagination. Springs that come off the coiling machines do not have springy properties. They need to be heated to a high temperature (typically 500 degrees Fahrenheit or more) to relieve stress, then quenched to create shape memory.
In contrast, when making heavy duty coil springs, the wire is heated up before coiling.
Flat springs come in all sorts of sizes and shapes: Spring washers, PCB spring contacts, and retainer clips are all examples of flat springs. Essentially sheet metal parts, they can be made by stamping. However, there are coiled flat springs as well, such as clock springs and volute springs. They also need be heat treated for shape memory.
Machined springs and die springs are used for heavy duty applications with high strength and precision requirements. As the name suggests, machined springs are made on CNC lathes and mills.
Plastic or composite springs are commonly found in corrosive environments, such as food production, medical, and marine applications. Due to creep, they should only be used in intermittent cycles. Compared to metal springs, they are relative newcomers to the space, and supply is not as abundant.
Information sourced from Fictiv
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