Springs are ubiquitous devices used in mechanical fabrications to store energy and generate motion. Also, they enhance shock-absorbing proficiencies and apply for lifting or holding materials in place, to name a few of their applications.
To a large extent, springs remain critical components in the manufacturing space as they are often integrated into the design of many products.
Therefore, this brings about the significance of picking the correct spring grade from the different types available for your project.
So, continue reading this article to learn more about the different types of springs and their applications in manufacturing industries.
Principle of Spring
A spring is a mechanical component that stores potential energy on load application. As such, springs release the stored energy, thereby exerting force. This can be compressive, torsion, or tensile to pull, push, lift, or support. Springs return to their original conformation after removing the applied load or force. This justifies the rationale behind spings getting described as elastic materials.
Hence, the spring operation and application principle centers on Hooke’s law. Hooke’s law states that the force needed to wield extension or compression on a spring is directly proportional to the change in length.
To express this mathematically, Hooke’s Law states that F= -kX where,
F is the exerted force
X is the displacement or change in length of the spring
K is the constant of proportionality value, also called the spring constant.
Different Types of Springs and Their Applications
You’ll find various types of springs available on the market and bear in mind that their features inform their respective use for explicit projects.
For instance, before choosing a spring, you must consider the application’s operating conditions and the force needed to ensure a proper fit.
Check the standard categories and types of spring below:
Helical springs are also referred to as coil springs. These springs remain the most used spring type in manufacturing industries. Helical springs get fabricated from wire coiled to form a helix shape.
As such, helical spring wire comes in square, rectangular, or round cross-sections. This spring category comprises various types, and each type provides specific functions. Check the varieties of helical springs and their applications below:
1. Compression Springs
Perhaps, it is safe to say that compression springs are the most widespread helical spring type available. Compression springs comprise an open coil design alomgside a constant coiled diameter, enabling them to resist the force applied when compressed.
As a result, they operate primarily as the compressive force to cushion or absorb the energy from any applied load.
Compression springs come in various shapes and sizes, such as conical, barrel, and hourglass, often machined to meet specific applications.
More so, they are placed in holes, rods, and shafts. Typical applications of compression springs include shock absorbers, air turbines, valves, electrical switches, and vehicle suspensions.
2. Extension Springs
Extension springs are also called tension springs. When fabricating extension springs, they get tightly wounded to generate the closed coil helical springs that comprise hooks or loops at either end. These springs get machined based on their intended application.
Their unique design feature makes them suitable for opposing force and tension when stretched. What’s more, tension springs are not self-limiting because they can extend beyond their breaking point.
Tension springs span many industrial sectors. This ranges from automotive to aerospace and medical products. To mention a few, the applications of extension springs include garage doors, trampolines, surgical lights, weighing machines and stretchers.
3. Torsion Springs
Torsion springs come in two main forms; spiral and helical torsion coils. Experts use these spring types in areas requiring rotational or torque motion resistance.
Torsion springs get applied in manufacturing companies as primary components for various motion controls. They apply in numerous other mechanisms such as clothespins, clocks, watches, door hinges, mousetraps, seatbelts, etc.
4. Spiral Springs
Spiral springs comprise flat or round wire in a helix shape. They get fabricated as concentric spirals, typically by wounding rectangular metal coils into flat spirals.
Unlike the helical compression and extension springs that act axially, the spiral springs operate in a radial direction to apply torque. Generally, spiral springs can store energy when activated and then discharge it at a constant rate after removing the applied load.
Due to this continuous release feature, manufacturers use spiral springs for various applications like recliners, watches, and toys.
Leaf springs comprise several leaves, which are flat plates of diverse dimensions generated from rectangular metal plates. The construction of leaf springs entails laminating the rectangular metal plates of different lengths on one another using bolts and clamps.
More so, they commonly apply in manufacturing heavy vehicles ranging from large cars to train carts. Let’s take a closer look at the types below:
1. Elliptical Leaf Spring
The construction of the elliptical leaf spring involves connecting two semi-elliptical springs in opposing directions, forming a complete elliptical shape.
In most cases, spring shackles do not apply when creating the elliptical leaf spring because the two semi-elliptical springs get compressed with the same force magnitude when fabricating it. Full-elliptical leaf springs were previously used in older cars and horse carts. But they have become obsolete for mechanical purposes in recent times.
2. Semi Elliptical Leaf Spring
Semi-elliptical leaf springs are made from steel leaves of variable lengths but with the same thickness and width fastened on one another. The master leaf refers to the longest leaf on both ends.
Automakers usually employ this leaf spring when fabricating automobiles. Semi elliptical arrangement aims to help guarantee that the spring absorbs shocks when stirring through rough grounds.
More so, semi-elliptical leaf springs offer additional properties like easy repair and minimal maintenance.
3. Quarter Elliptical Leaf Spring
This leaf spring type is also known as the cantilever type leaf spring. Like the full-elliptical leaf spring, the quarter-elliptical leaf spring is an old-fashioned type of leaf spring that has become obsolete.
They also come into play in the automotive industry. Experts fasten one end of the quarter elliptical leaf spring to the frame’s side member and affix the other end to the front axle. This is usually with the aid of a U-Clamp or I-Bolt.
4. Three-Quarter Elliptical Leaf Spring
This leaf spring combines the semi-elliptical leaf spring and the quarter-elliptical leaf spring. When applied, the engineer attaches one end of the semi-elliptical spring to the vehicle’s frame while the other is affixed to the quarter elliptical spring.
Further, the other end of the quarter elliptical spring connects to the edges and the head using the I-bolt. For better understanding, you can liken the operation of a three-quarter elliptical leaf spring to the torsion spring applied in door hinges.
5. Transverse Leaf Spring
A transverse leaf spring gets created by transversely affixing a semi-elliptical leaf spring across the vehicle’s width. The conformation is such that the mid portion gets fastened with a U-bolt. The fabrication of transverse leaf springs entails using two shackles, but they tend to induce rolling, making them unfit for vehicle application.
Disc springs comprise the singular or multiple springs fixed together. This configuration enables the spring to absorb a higher load with lesser deflections in tight spaces.
As such, disk springs apply in various work holding and manufacturing applications. Check the different disk springs types and applications below:
1. Belleville Disk Spring
Belleville disk springs are also called conical disk springs. You can quickly identify them by their signature cupped appearance.
Unlike other springs, Belleville springs can withstand heavier impact as their conical shape makes them compress easily. Experts use this spring alongside fasteners to insert the bolt into the spring before mounting it to a substrate.
2. Curved Disk Spring
These disk springs have a cylindrically curved configuration and are usually fabricated from spring steel. These springs generate light pressure to distribute loads, thereby resisting loosening resulting from constant motion.
3. Slotted Disk Spring
The slotted disk spring comprises the slots on the outer and inner diameter that form a lever. Bear in mind that the stresses in the annular region must stay intact when using the slotted disk springs.
Even so, increasing the exterior diameter of the disc can help achieve this balance. Slotted disc springs apply in vehicle transmissions and clutches.
4. Wave Disk Spring
As the name suggests, these disk spring types get fabricated by coiling flat wires with multiple waves. This generates a spring effect that reduces assemblies (tolerates lower work heights) and employs fewer resources, thus decreasing product costs.
Materials Used to Make Springs
Manufacturers utilize various materials in the manufacture of springs. These material grades impact the properties and functionality of the springs available. Check the common materials below:
1. Beryllium Copper Alloy
Most manufacturers use this material in making springs. And this is because it confers hardness and superb conductivity on springs.
Aside from this, experts use beryllium copper alloy for its machinable qualities in producing springs with intricate shapes and forms. Thus, this applies mainly to ma materials for various products ranging from musical instruments to measurement devices and bullets.
Due to its high melting point, ceramics remains suitable for fabricating springs subjected to high temperatures.
Moreover, it is stiff, hard and rigid and offers considerable corrosion and abrasion resistance.
3. One-Directional Glass Fiber Composite Materials
This is a fortified composite material highly credited for its robust strength. Most manufacturers now consider using this material as the choice material for making almost all varieties of springs due to its qualities.
Rubber ranks among the best choices when manufacturing springs with cylindrical or non-coil designs. Experts consider these materials safe and reliable owing to their insulating characteristics. Furthermore, they have vital uses in products where external issues like magnetism, vibration and corrosion may occur.
5. Steel Alloys
Steel alloys provide exceptional strength, hardness, and durability compared to most other materials.
Therefore, steel alloys remain the most popular material used in making springs. Aside from this, they are also compatible with many different materials to obtain desired properties.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Springs
Springs offer certain advantages in manufacturing, but unfortunately, they also come with a few downsides. Take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of springs below:
Benefits of Springs
1. Storage of Energy
Largely, springs serve as suitable alternatives to batteries, and this is because they possess energy-storing capabilities.
On applying force, some spring store energy and constantly discharge the energy after removing the pressure. This justifies their use in mechanical watches.
2. Shock Absorbing Qualities
Perhaps, the most popular benefit of springs is their shock-absorbing properties. This is such that when a product that comprises springs experiences external shock, the presence of the spring will help discharge the impact of the shock through compression and relaxation.
3. Linking Properties
Springs are also widely utilized for their linking properties. Springs can link various sections of a product or part together.
A few applications of spring linkage include garage doors, gears, weighing machines, and valves.
4. Enhanced Product Stability
The shock-absorbing capabilities of springs help them enhance and maintain product stability. Besides, springs cause a reduction in part friction and vibration, both of which cause instability in most products.
Disadvantages of Springs
1. High Tool Cost
Sometimes acquiring a spring for machining purposes proves costly. This may be due to the type of springs, the availability and accessibility of the material, and the product design.
2. Loss of Elasticity
Springs get deformed after some time due to non-stop compression and relaxation. At this point, spring fails to comply with Hooke’s law.
However, the rate at which this loss occurs varies depending on the material type used in its production.
Frequently Asked Questions
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