Spring has Sprung 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 ConditionsIntended UseTypes of Springs
Static– Load specification
– Load adjustment
– Utilization of accumulated energy
– Springs for scales and safety valves
– Washers
– Main springs for measure gauges and watches
-Tensile springs for automation devices
Dynamic– Oscillatory relaxation
– Absorption of shock energy
– Vibration isolation springs
– 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

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

AdvantagesDisadvantages
– Capable of forming a complex shape
– Lightweight and rust-free
– Flexible and slightly elastic
– Color 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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