Springs are mechanical components of immense importance used in effecting motion, improving shock-absorbing capabilities, etc., in many products. In other words, rapid prototyping services such as 3D printing, and CNC machining can make different types of springs employed in effecting and making products such as watches, cellphones, etc.
Some of the most widely used products incorporate springs in their design. This necessitates the need for knowledge and selection, and this gives rise to the need to understand springs and their applications. This article, therefore, talks about springs, their advantages and disadvantages, and the different types of springs and their applications.
Principle of Spring
Let’s start with something about spring. Spring is a device that stores energy when there is an application of force (from a load) and releases the energy after the load removal. Under normal conditions, irrespective of the types of springs used in a product, the spring will return to its original shape upon load removal.
The use of springs in any product is based on Hooke’s Law. Hooke’s law simply demonstrates the relationship between the “force” exerted on a spring and its elasticity. In simple terms, Hooke’s law state that the force needed for spring compression and extension is directly proportional to the displacement.
Mathematically Hooke’s Law is expressed as F= -kX,
F = force applied to the spring
X = displacement of the spring (the negative value indicates that the restoring force is opposite of the direction.
k = is the spring constant. It depends on the types of springs and shows stiffness.
Different Types of Springs and Their Applications
Springs are made from different materials, shapes, functions, etc., which necessitates various applications. And the springs have three main categories, with each category having different subcategories.
Category One: Helical Springs
Helical springs are the most common types of springs in product manufacturing. Wire coiled into a helix shape (hence the name) with different cross-sections can make helical springs. Below are the kinds of springs under category one.
1. Compression Springs
Compression springs are open-coil helical springs with a constant coiled diameter and variable shape that resists axial compression.
The simplest example of its application is in the ballpoint pen, where it is responsible for the “popping” effect. It is also applicable in valves and suspension.
2. Extension Springs
Unlike compression springs, extension springs are closed coil helical springs. They are suitable for creating tension, storing the energy, and using the energy to return the spring to its original shape.
A simple example of its applications is in garage doors. Others are in pull levers, jaw pliers, and weighing machines.
3. Torsion Springs
A torsion spring is attached to two different components using its two ends. This keeps the two components apart at a certain angle. These springs use radial direction when force is acting radially due to rotation. What’s more, CNC machining capabilities can produce custom two-bodied torsion springs in high volumes.
4. Spiral Springs
Spiral springs are made by coiling rectangular metal strips to flat spirals. On activation, it stores a reasonable amount of energy and can release it at a constant rate. The constant release makes it suitable for mechanical watches, toys, and seat recliners.
Category Two: Leaf Springs
Leaf springs are types of springs made from rectangular metal plates, also known as leaves. The rectangular metal plates are normally bolted and clamped, and they have major use in heavy vehicles. Below are the different types of leaf springs and their applications.
1. Elliptical Leaf Spring
By the connection of two semi-elliptical springs in an opposite direction can construct the elliptical leaf spring. This forms an elliptical shape. The axle and frame attach the Elliptical lead springs. There is no need for spring shackles as the two semi-elliptical springs are elongated by the same amount during compression. Elliptical leaf springs were only applicable in olden cars but not nowadays.
2. Semi Elliptical Leaf Spring
These are the most popular leaf spring in automobiles. They are made from steel leaves with different lengths but the same width and thickness. The uppermost/longest leaf at the two ends is the master leaf. The arrangement of the steel leaves resembles a semi-elliptical shape.
Semi elliptical leaf springs have an end rigidly fixed to the vehicle frame and the other to the shackle. This helps in varying the lengths and absorbing shock when traveling in rough terrains. Semi-elliptical leaf springs require less maintenance, are easy to repair, and have a long life.
3. Quarter Elliptical Leaf Spring
Also known as the cantilever type leaf spring, the quarter elliptical leaf spring is also an olden leaf spring. They have one end fixed on the side member of the frame by the aid of a U-Clamp or I-Bolt. The other is freely connected to the front axle. When the front axle beam is subjected to a shock load, the leaves straighten to absorb the shock.
4. Three-Quarter Elliptical Leaf Spring
A simple example of its application is a door hinge. Here, when you open the door, the spring will store its rotational energy; when you release the door, the spring uses the store energy to bring the door back to its original position. The rotation force depends on the rotation of the spring.
This leaf spring is a combination of the quarter elliptical spring and semi-elliptical spring. One end semi-elliptical part is attached to the vehicle frame, while the other is attached to the quarter elliptical spring. The other end of the quarter elliptical spring is attached to the frames and head by the I-bolt.
5. Transverse Leaf Spring
Transverse leaf spring comes from transversely mounting a semi-elliptical leaf spring along the vehicle width. The arrangement is such that the spring’s longest leaf is located at the bottom, the mid-portion is fixed to the frame by the aid of a U-bolt. Transverse leaf springs utilize two shackles. However, they can cause rolling, thereby making them unsuitable for automobiles.
Category Three: Disk Springs
Transverse Leaf Spring Disk springs are singular or multiple springs stacked together in series or parallel arrangements. This arrangement allows them to absorb a high load in tight spaces. Types of disk springs include:
1. Belleville Disk Spring
Also known as the coned-shaped disk spring, the Belleville disk spring has a cupped construction. They do not lie flat. Instead, they take a canonical shape that compresses and allows them to handle heavy loads.
2. Curved Disk Spring
Also known as crescent washers, they apply light pressure to their mating par to resist loosening as a result of vibration. They are suitable for distributing loads of threaded bolts, screws, and nuts evenly in machines that produce constant vibration.
3. Slotted Disk Spring
The slots on the outer and inner diameter of a disc spring can make the slotted disk spring. This will result in a lever that reduces spring load and increase deflection. Slotted disk springs have a wide application in automatic transmissions, clutches, and overload couplings.
4. Wave Disk Springs
Wave disk springs have multiple waves per turn and are suitable for providing prices and predictable loading. Here, they are able to act as a cushion by absorbing stress due to axial compression.
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Materials Used to Make Springs
Unlike the conventional assumption that springs come from iron, it is important to know that springs come from different materials. The types of materials, therefore, determine the properties, types of springs, and their applications. Below are the common materials:
· Beryllium Copper Alloy
Springs made from this allow have high strength, low creep, and excellent conductivity. They are also suitable for forming complex shapes and forms. Consequently, it’s good to use copper alloy to make springs used in musical instruments, certain measurement devices, bullets, etc.
Ceramic material is suitable for making springs used at very high temperatures. It is resistant to abrasion, water, and it is very hard. It also has a low coefficient of friction and low density.
· One-Directional Glass Fiber Composite Materials
One-directional glass fiber composite material is a reinforced glass fiber that has powerful strength. Consequently, manufacturers are now considering it as a potential material for making all springs.
These materials are suitable for making springs with a cylindrical/non-coil design. They are safe and reliable, and due to their non-conducting properties, they have applications in products where there is always an issue with magnetism, corrosion, and vibration.
· Steel Alloys
The steel alloy spring is the most popular type of spring used. They can be enhanced with other materials, but irrespective, they have excellent strength and durability.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Springs
Springs have some nice advantages when they are one of the essential parts that comprise a number of widely used products, but they also carry a few disadvantages. Let’s look in turn at the advantages and disadvantages of springs.
Advantages of Springs
· Better Shock-absorbing Capability
Springs have a wide application in many products as they are able to reduce the effect of shock by absorbing them. When the product experiences a shock, the spring compresses and relaxes to absorb it. Consequently, springs are important parts of vehicles.
· Energy Storage
The spiral spring is an example of a spring that can serve as an alternative to a battery. On an application of force, the spring can generate energy and release the energy in a constant manner. This makes it an important component of the mechanical watch.
· Joining Mechanism
Using spring can join two parts of a product or part together. For example, springs apply in a garage, door, and weighing machines to join two parts in order to function.
· Product Stability
By its use in shock-absorbing capability, springs ensure that products that use them are stable. Product stability can also be a form of part friction and vibration reduction.
Disadvantages of Springs
Adding a spring can be expensive in some machinery. These are because of the different types of springs, the ease of making them, the availability of the right material, and the product design.
· They Lose Their Effects over time
Springs lose their effect over time due to the simultaneous compression and relaxation. This depends on the material used in making it. Eventually, it will fail to obey Hooke’s law i.e., it will not return to the original shape on deformation.
Springs are an important part of any product that undergoes motion. When compressed and expanded, they can store and release energy. Choosing the right spring comes with knowing the kinds of springs used nowadays. Each spring has its own features and characteristics depending on the types of materials used, the design, and the manufacturing process. Therefore, when choosing to make a spring for your product, it’s best to consider the above factors.
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There are three main types of springs are the helical springs, disk springs, and leaf springs. Each main type has different types of springs under it. For example, the helical springs consist of the torsion spring, extension spring, spiral spring, and compression spring.
The helical springs consist of 4 different types of springs, each with its application. The four are torsion spring, extension spring, spiral spring, and compression spring.
The most common type of spring is the torsion spring. They have two ends attached to two different components to keep them apart at a certain angle. An example of an application is in the door hinge. Here, when you open the door, the spring will store its rotational energy. When you release the door, the spring uses the store energy to bring the door back to its original position.