It’s Spring Time Part 1: Introduction to Springs

When one thinks of the word “spring” perhaps they think of the season, the season in which we have a reprieve from the wintry tundra of winter. “Spring” can also be a place where water wells up from the underground or the ability to do a sudden jump. However, in this series of posts, we will evaluate the function, load capability, and materials of the mechanical component, springs.

A “spring” is used for various structures. Each spring has its purpose, but it plays more of a supporting role than a lead. In spite of this image, springs are one of the most important automation components in ongoing technological advancements because they are closely related to making the product more compact and lightweight, improving products’ reliability, high-speed performance, and operability.

Functions of Springs

The following characteristics of springs are utilized for mechanical components.

1. Elastic energy will be stored in a spring based on the deflection caused by the spring force.
2. The elastic energy accumulated in Step 1 will be released outwardly as the external force diminishes.
3. When a spindle hanging from the spring oscillates, the spindle continues to oscillate in accordance with the spring constant.

The following table summarizes the uses of springs according to operating conditions.

Operating Conditions Intended Use Types of Springs
Static Load specification/adjustment Springs for scales and safety valves
Washers
Utilization of accumulated energy Main springs for measuring gauges and watches
Tensile springs for automation devices
Dynamic Oscillatory relaxation Vibration isolation springs
Absorption of shock energy Shock-absorbing damper
Buffer springs for elevator equipment

Spring characteristics are created by their materials, the heat treatment process, and forming methods (hot/cold forming).

Hot & Cold Forming

Hot Forming: A forming method involving quenching and tempering of the spring material strengthening the spring after it is formed into its shape.

Cold Forming: A forming method involving quenching, tempering or wire extension to previously strengthened spring material after they are formed into shape.

Spring Material

Typical metal materials for springs

Symbol Name Application Major application Method
SW-B Hard steel wire Small coils for
general machinery
Springs
SWP Piano wire
SWO Carbon steel oil-tempered
wire for springs
Medium to large coil
springs for general
machinery
SWOSC Oil-tempered
chromium
silicon alloy steel wires
for springs
SUS-WP Stainless steel for springs Coil springs requiring corrosion resistance
SUP6 Silicon-manganese steel Small coil springs for general machinery Hot forming
SUP9A Manganese-chromium steel Medium to large coil springs for general machinery
SK4 Carbon steel For general and economical disc springs
SUS304 Stainless steel Leaf springs and disc springs requiring corrosion resistance

On the flip side, springs can be made of plastics a more flexible material.  Based on the characteristics of the below chart, plastic springs can be used for fixing hooks used with tubes and electrical wires.

Characteristics of plastic springs

Advantages Disadvantages
-Capable of forming a complex shape
-Lightweight and rust-free
-Flexible and slightly elastic
-Decoration such as coloring can be added
-Low strength
-Low surface hardness
-Low heat resistance
-No support stiffness

Springs also have mechanical properties crucial to selecting the correct one for various applications and designs this will be discussed further in the series. In the next post, we will review types of springs and more characteristics. Stay tuned!

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