Today, metal parts production and manufacturing assembly operations often benefit from the use of industrial springs. In its most basic form, a spring consists of an elastic device which will return to its original shape when released after sustaining distortion. The resilience of springs makes these items very useful in a wide range of products.
Certain types of springs may have existed in ancient times. However, the widespread use of some popular springs in manufacturingdid not occur until the Industrial Revolution, when the use of wires became more widespread. Modern metal parts manufacturing facilities depend heavily upon these useful devices.
Types of Industrial Springs
Numerous different types of springs assist manufacturing in this century. A dizzying array of springs populate the marketplace today. Some perform specific functions within certain industries. Several popular broad categories of industrial springs include:
Helical Springs: The most commonly used type of mechanical industrial spring, helical springs utilize coiled wire arranged in a helical fashion. This elastic device will deflect under pressure, but rebound to its previous shape with the removal of the load. Spiral springs form a popular and widely-used subcategory of helical springs, for instance. Tightly twisted helical springs create "torsion springs", a spring mechanism often utilized in ignition systems, garage doors and some types of locks. Closely coiled helical springs can also form "compression springs" which temporarily contract upon the application of pressure. The dimensions and gauges of metals utilized in a helical spring prove very important in its operational performance.
Coil Springs: This spring consists of flat wire coiled tightly into a disc-shaped formation. One important variety of coil spring, the constant force spring, has found widespread industrial application. It often serves to control timing mechanisms in old-fashioned parking meters and spring-based watches, for instance.
Leaf Springs: This type of spring consists of superimposed layers of metal strips, layers or leaves. Leaf springs frequently constitutes parts of mechanical assemblies, and may provide a way to keep some parts attached in a correct position or alignment.
Hydraulic Springs: While not a true "spring", this device, often utilized in braking systems, consists of very thick walled tubes connected to a piston. Fluid in the cylinder responds to compression, impacting the operation of the attached piston. Industrial heavy machinery and tools widely utilize hydraulic springs.
Materials And Applications
Numerous companies manufacture industrial springs. Both the materials used to create springs and the applications for these products have significantly impacted the commercial marketplace:
Most industrial springs utilize metal as a basic constituent. Manufacturers have relied upon a variety of different metals and metal alloys to create these devices. Some popular choices include: copper, copper alloys, steel, steel alloys, and stainless steel.
A metal's tensile strength and its ability to conduct or resist electrical currents often play important roles in its selection for use in an industrial spring. The extent to which a metal or metal alloy will magnetize also sometimes proves important. Other key factors relate to the availability of the metal in a requested gauge of wire, the cost, fatigue resistance, corrosion resistance, and the underlying purpose of the manufacturer in producing the spring.
Currently, manufacturers enjoy access to many different types of industrial springs in the global marketplace. Additionally, some companies seek customized springs in order to obtain specific spring constituents, dimensions, gauges, and design features. The manufacture of many springs begins with the selection of wires containing the desired constituent metals.
Spring manufacturers often rely upon sophisticated CNC machinery to generate correctly formed springs. Following coiling, the fabricators must ensure the ends of the spring display specified features, such as hooks, drilled holes, extension loops or other configurations. Finally, spring manufacturers typically mill the ends of a spring to eliminate burrs and other defects and achieve a smooth finish.
Industrial springs perform important functions within virtually every economic sector. Just a few of the industries which frequently utilize these components include the agricultural, automotive, maritime, electronics, aerospace, manufacturing, energy, telecommunications and defense industries. Springs also appear as components in many consumer goods. These useful devices contribute to many mechanical assemblies.
The Constant Force Spring
One type of spring which performs an important role in some industrial settings involves the use of a coiled strip of tightly wound steel. Not a true helical or spiral spring, this "constant force spring" falls within the broad coil springs category, although some authorities prefer to classify it as an extension spring.
Throughout its range of motion, the constant force spring exerts a constant force; it relaxes in a coiled position. The pre-stressed tightly wound metal resists uncoiling. This property makes the spring suitable for a variety of industrial purposes which involve lifting or which must occur at controlled rates of speed. Manufacturers frequently attach this type of spring to loads within a mechanical assembly, for example.
Heavy constant force springs can pose a potential hazard due to the powerful force they exert. Anyone working around this type of device should exercise caution from a personal safety standpoint if the spring malfunctions due to the sudden movement or removal of the load or the fatigue of the spring's metal.
Product designers utilize many different sizes of constant force springs. Constant force springs do eventually wear out due to metal fatigue, of course. Yet this very useful spring today enjoys widespread utility in doors, vending machines, toys, photographic equipment, hair dryers, tool making machinery, and timing mechanisms.