When Picking Metal Springs, Know This First

Springs are used in more applications than we realize—and that wide variety of applications means that we also need different materials for these specific uses.

Here is some more information to answer the questions, “What are metal springs used for?” and “What metals are springs made of?”

Spring materials

Springs are made of metal, but what metal are springs made of? Here are a few types of metals commonly used in spring manufacturing:

  • Carbon steel: This iron alloy is blended with carbon to increase strength and hardness. Music wire is one of the best varieties of carbon steel for springs due to its high elastic limit, tensile strength and fatigue resistance. Springs with hand-drawn materials are the least desirable for most applications due to the inferior material quality.
  • Alloy steel: Some steel has alloys added, like chromium, vanadium, silicon or phosphorus, to enhance certain properties of the metal. For example, chromium-vanadium valve spring steel offers high-fatigue and high-shock properties. Chromium-silicon alloy is good for high-impact loadings, including use as firearm recoil springs.

Types of springs

One of the things you need to know when picking metal springs is what type of spring you need. There are several different types of springs, and each is used for different applications.

For example, helical compression springs make up more than 80 percent of all springs that are manufactured. Here are a few different types of helical springs and what these metal springs are used for:

  • Cylindrical springs: The most common type of spring is the cylindrical spring. They offer a constant spring rate, as the pitch and coil diameters do not change throughout the spring.
  • Conical springs: As the name implies, these springs have a conical shape with nesting coils. These springs can be used for larger deflections than their conical cousins and are more resistant to lateral and buckling forces. Their spring rate is not linear, however, due to the difference in coil diameters at each end.
  • Barrel and hourglass springs: These springs have double-cone geometries, with barrel springs being convex (i.e., fat in the middle) and hourglass springs being concave (i.e., skinny in the middle). They have advantages similar to those of conical springs.

Another group of springs are helical tension springs. In contrast to compression springs, these allow for deflection when stretched. They usually have hooks on either end. This group of springs makes up about 10 percent of all springs that are manufactured. Here are a couple examples of helical tension springs:

  • Tension springs: These cylindrical springs have very close spaces between coils. One thing to note about this type of spring is that, due to its design, the end hook is the most common point of failure because it experiences more stress than the coil.
  • Drawbar springs: This is a safer design than tension springs, as it is in compression, which keeps the spring from becoming too deformed and protects it from permanently becoming deformed.

With such a wide variety of springs and materials to choose from, it’s important to work with an experienced spring manufacturer who knows what will work best for your project.

Contact the experienced professional metal fabricators at Metal Works Corporation to get the right part at the right price today.