Springs are simple mechanical tools used to store energy for specific applications. Some common examples include the tension springs that pull a fence gate closed, torsion springs on the lid of a box, and extension springs that counterbalance the weight of a garage door. Another type is compression springs, which we’ll explore here.

Compression Springs Explained

Depending how they are wound, shaped, and the materials used, springs accomplish different tasks. Compression springs are used in applications that call for moving or keeping two components apart, such as between die plates in a stamping press, between a door and the wall, or the springs in a mattress and box spring set.

The wire loops in a compression spring are spread apart to some degree when the spring is not under any force – this is called the pitch between the coils. As force is applied to the ends of the spring it becomes compressed and the wire loops move closer together and may even touch. This is how the spring stores energy that, when the external force is removed or decreased, pushes or holds things apart. The movement of a spring when force is applied or removed is called deflection.

Different Types of Compression Springs

Compression springs are usually made from metal wire that is coiled into a helix. High carbon steel and stainless steel, and alloys of steel, copper, and nickel are the most common materials for springs; although, polymer resin composites can also be used. The cross section of the wire can be round, trapezoidal, square, or wide and flat. Various gauges of wire allow for different amounts of stored and exerted force as well as the spring’s size and durability in use. Springs can be manufactured in many shapes, diameters, and lengths. Wire ends can be cut square, ground, or otherwise shaped depending on the application.

While they can be highly customized for specialized uses, compression springs generally come in these four shapes:

  • Straight or cylindrical. This is the most common shape for compression springs. They have a uniform diameter from end to end.
  • Convex or barrel-shaped. These springs are widest in the middle with tapered ends, similar to the shape of a barrel. This shape is less prone to buckling than a straight cylinder.
  • Conical or tapered. These cone-shaped springs are tapered on one end. This shape gives a telescoping effect where the coils can collapse into a flat disk, which saves space under maximum deflection.
  • Concave or hourglass. These springs are narrowest in the middle with wider ends. They can be less prone to buckling than other shapes.

Applications for Compression Springs

Compression springs are used in many industries, operations, and products. Their ability to store and exert force makes them a good choice to move components or keep them in place, to ensure proper alignment of parts, or to reduce vibration and excessive motion. Some uses for compression springs include:

  • Industrial machinery. Compression springs are used in various industrial machines such as stamping presses, CNC machines, and packaging equipment. Springs help control force, absorb vibrations, and maintain proper alignment of components. 
  • Metal stamping and forming. In metal stamping, special heavy duty compression springs called die springs are used to position and hold sheet metal. They can also be used to create return pressure for die strippers to remove tooling from the workpiece as the press opens
  • Injection molding. Compression springs are often used in injection molding equipment to ensure proper retraction of ejector plates.
  • Assembly operations. In automated assembly operations compression springs may be used for motion control as actuators and in conveyance equipment. They can also be used in specialized tooling and equipment to position or reset components between cycles. 
  • Automotive components. Compression springs are used throughout cars, trucks, and other vehicles including engine systems, suspension systems, seats, and pedals. 
  • Electronics components. Battery compartments, push buttons, and motors in electronic devices like cell phones all use compression springs. 
  • Appliance and household item components. Compression springs are found in appliances such as washing machines, air conditioners, and refrigerators. They are also used in smaller items like light switches, door locks, staplers, and retractable pens.
  • Medical device components. Medical devices use small compression springs for many applications including valves and pumps, implantable devices for widening arteries, inhalers, pill dispensers, and auto-injection syringes. Compression springs are also used in large medical equipment such as overhead lights with articulated arms, adjustable beds and tables, monitoring equipment, and imaging machines. 
  • Hand tool components. Compression springs are used in various hand tools including caulk and adhesive guns, spring-loaded wire or metal snips, wire strippers, clamps, hanging scales, and hand-held compressor tools.

Compression Springs from Ready Technology

Ready Technology is an industry leader in metal coil and nitrogen gas springs for metal stamping and forming applications. Our SuperSprings line of compression die springs is available in four color-coded load classifications (in accordance with ISO 10243). Uniform lengths and diameters provide full interchangeability between load ratings. Spring diameters are guaranteed to fit in the holes and over the rod diameters listed in the dimensional data.

Learn more about SuperSprings here or contact us today for a free quote

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