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Compression Springs

A compression spring is an open-coil helical spring that offers resistance to a compressive force applied axially. Compression Springs are the most common metal spring configuration and are in fact one of the most efficient energy storage devices available. Other than the common cylindrical shape, many shapes are utilized, including conical, barrel and hourglass. Generally, these coil springs are either placed over a rod or fitted inside a hole. When you put a load on a compression coil spring, making it shorter, it pushes back against the load and tries to get back to its original length.

Common Applications
Compression springs are found in a wide variety of applications ranging from automotive engines and large stamping presses to major appliances and lawn mowers to medical devices, cell phones, electronics and sensitive instrumentation devices. Cone shape metal springs are generally used in applications requiring low solid height and increased resistance to surging.

Compression Spring Design General Considerations:


General Considerations
The following design procedure (and associated formulas) should be used for all compression spring designs. Following these general guidelines, there are more specific guidelines for dealing with the individual design cases. 1. Select the appropriate material for the spring design. Take note of the shear modulus (G) and tensile strength (TS), as these numbers will be used in future calculations.

2. Calculate the Dm and ID (or OD) of the spring. Compare the ID of the spring to any work over rod requirements. Remember to incorporate the low side of the OD (or ID) tolerance when examining the work over rod requirements.

3. The diameter of a compression spring will increase when compressed. This increase is a function of the pitch. Calculate the OD expansion and compare this to any work in hole requirements. Remember to incorporate the high side of the OD tolerance when examining the work in hole requirements.

4. Calculate the pitch (and therefore coils per inch) and the spring index. Verify that the pitch of the spring is not greater than the OD, as this will result in coiling difficulties. Also, take note of the spring index. End Type Open Open/Ground Closed Closed/Ground

If the spring index is not between the range of 4 and 10, further examination and considerations are required such as: o Special tooling (pencil arbors for tight index springs) o Special packaging (for flimsy or slinky type high index springs) o Stress relieving (would either not be applicable for springs with indexes over 25 or would require special handling to prevent distortion) o Tangling issues o No grinding (because grinding high index springs will actually worsen squareness) o No additional operations, such as plating or tumbling (because of tangling issues) Using one of the following five methods, establish the corresponding design criteria: a. b. c. d. Design based on physical dimensions Design based on spring rate Design based on two loads Design based on one load and spring rate

e. Design based on one load and free length 6. Once the spring rate (R) and number of active coils (NA) has been established, calculate the number of total coils (NT). (This does not apply to designs that are based on physical dimensions.) End Type Open Open/Ground Closed Closed/Ground

7. Calculate the solid height (SH) and verify that any customer requirements are satisfied and that any load heights are above solid height. Allow a 3% variation to the nominal solid height value to calculate the maximum solid height. End Type Open Open/Ground Closed Closed/Ground

8. If the design has load requirements, the stress at these load heights must be calculated and compared against the tensile strength of the material. If the percent stress (see below) at any load height is greater than 40% (and the spring will not be compressed more than this particular height) then a set operation or allow for set should be considered. If the percent stress is greater than 60%, a re-design must be considered.

9. Unless the working range is specifically known, the stress at solid height must be examined. If the percent stress (see below) at solid height is greater than 40% then a set operation or allow for set should be considered. If the percent stress is greater than 60%, a re-design must be considered. If an overstressed situation is presented, the customer should be contacted in order to gain a better understanding of how the spring will be used.

10. Tolerances should be assigned to all required design criteria. Commercial tolerances should be used whenever possible. Tighter tolerances should be compared against the calculated process capability (CPC) for that feature. Generally speaking, a dimension can be held to its CPC value without generating scrap. Once the tolerance is below the CPC value, it is certain that not all parts will be within tolerance. Rework operations, stricter control over the manufacturing process, or allowances for scrap must be taken into consideration.

Diameter Tolerances
OD commercial tolerances chart: .025 to .050 O.D. .001 .051 to .100 O.D. .003 .101 to .250 O.D. + .003 - .005 .251 to .500 O.D. .008 .501 to .850 O.D. .015 CPC values: .851 to 1.125 O.D. .020 1.126 to 1.250 O.D. .025 1.251 to 1.480 O.D. .030 1.481 to 1.750 O.D. .040 1.751 to 2.000 O.D. .055

Free Length Tolerances


Calculate the commercial tolerance using the following formula:

(Note: If the Free Length (FL) value is less than 0.500 inch, substitute 0.500 inch as the FL value in the above calculation.) CPC Values:

Rate Tolerances
A tolerance of +/- 10% is the standard. Anything smaller than this must take into account the factors that influence the spring rate (the spring diameter, feed, and wire size variation). Generally speaking, the feed and wire size vary negligibly. Diameter variation is what primarily controls the variation on the spring rate. The following formulas should be used to calculate the commercial rate tolerance and rate CPC, if necessary.

Load Tolerances
A tolerance of +/- 10% is the standard. Anything smaller than this must take into account the factors that influence the load (the spring diameter, feed, free length, and wire size variation). Generally speaking, the feed and wire size vary negligibly. Diameter and length variation are what primarily control variation on the loads. Use the following formulas to calculate the commercial load tolerance and load CPC, if necessary.

Squareness
A tolerance of 3 maximum is standard. For any requirements that call for tighter squareness requirements, particular attention must be given to coiling and grinding setup hours (and frames).

Number of Coils
Generally speaking, the number of coils is not a dimension that will have a tolerance placed on it for manufacturing purposes. This is because it is somewhat difficult to measure the number of coils within a certain degree of accuracy. It is easier to put a tolerance on the spring rate, which is indirectly controlling the number of coils.

Compression Spring: End Types


There are four basic types of compression spring ends, as shown. The type of ends specified affect the pitch, solid height, number of active and total coils, free length, and seating characteristics of the spring.

OPEN END: the coils are consistent with no pitch change through the end of the spring.

CLOSED ENDS, NOT GROUND: the end coils' pitch is reduced so the end coils touch.

OPEN & GROUND: last coil ground flat in appearance and has a less parallel end

CLOSED, SQUARED & GROUND: last coil not flat in appearance and has a less parallel end

Counting Coils
Total number of coils is counted from tip to tip. Springs with closed ends or with closed and ground ends have one inactive coil at each end. Springs with open ends are considered to have virtually no inactive coil. Springs with open ends ground are considered to have about one-half inactive coil at each end. The active coils are what make a spring a spring. The active term should really be applied to any portion of a spring that stores and releases energy. In the case of a compression spring, the active portion will expand as the spring is compressed. The opposite is typical of an extension spring. The action of a clutch spring tightening down on a shaft is typical of the diameter change as a torsion spring winds up. When designing a spring and specifying its dimensions, it is critical that the number of coils is counted correctly, as this can have a huge effect on the strength of the spring. It is a straightforward process - simply start at one end of the spring, where the wire has been cut, then follow the wire round every time you go through 360o that counts as a full coil (180o = coil; 90o = coil etc.) The compression spring pictured right has five total coils (not six). The same method applies to extension springs and torsion springs.

Direction of Wind

Left Hand Wound

Right Hand Wound

A coil spring can be wound in either a left hand or right hand direction, similar to a screw type thread. In applications such as one spring operating inside another, it is necessary to coil the springs so that the helices are in opposite directions, right and left. If a spring screws onto a thread, the direction of the helix should match that of the thread. A left hand wound spring will spiral in the same direction as a Left Hand threaded screw. A right hand wound spring will spiral in the same direction as a Right Hand threaded screw.

Compression Spring: End Squareness, Parallelism and Grinding


Spring squareness is the angular difference between the outermost limit of a spring diameter when compared to a straightedge at a right angle to a horizontal flat plate on which the spring is standing. This affects how the axial force produced by the spring can be transferred to adjacent parts in a mechanism. Open ends may be entirely suitable for some applications, however, when space allows, closed ends provide greater squareness and reduce the possibility of tangling with little increase in cost. Compression springs with closed ends can often perform well without grinding, particularly in wire sizes smaller than .020 in. or spring indices exceeding12. Spring parallelism relates to the ends of the spring and how parallel they are to one another. A compression spring cannot be closed and ground so consistently that its ends will always be square (in parallel planes at right angles to its axis). In addition, the helix angles adjacent to the end coils will not have uniform configuration and closing tension, and these springs cannot be coiled so accurately as to permit all coils to close out simultaneously under load. As a result of these end coil effects, the spring rate tends to lag over the initial 20 percent of the deflection range, often being considerably less than calculated. As the ends seat during the first stage of deflection, the spring rate rises to the calculated value. In contrast, the spring rate for the final 20 percent of the deflection range tends to increase as coils progressively close out. Many applications require grinding the ends in order to provide greater control over squareness. Among these are applications in which (1) high-duty springs are specified, (2) unusually close tolerances on load or rate are needed, (3) solid height must be minimized, (4) accurate seating and uniform bearing pressures are required, and (5) a tendency toward buckling must be reduced. Since springs are flexible and external forces tend to tilt the ends, grinding to extreme squareness is difficult. A spring may be specified for grinding square in the unloaded condition or square under load, but not in both conditions with any degree of accuracy. When squareness at a specific load or height is required, it should be specified.

Compression Spring Shape Types


Compression springs can come in a variety of shapes. Custom designs may have any number of shapes depending on the application. Some common custom shapes include the CONE shape where the spring radius decreases, a common shape is a BATTERY SPRING. An HOUR GLASS shape tapers tighter towards the center and the outer coils have a larger diameter. The BARREL SHAPE is reduced at the ends and wider in the center. The REDUCED ENDS spring is straight across the center coils and tapers only towards the end coils .

Conical

Hourglass (Convex)

Barrel (Concave)

Reduced Ends

Cone Compression Spring:


Conical springs provide a commonly used solution for spring applications with constraints of reduced length or space. They can be used in many different mechanisms, such as contactors and switches in the electrical field. Indeed, they are often chosen for one special characteristic: their ability to telescope. They take up very little space at maximum compression while storing as much energy as cylindrical springs. Their load-length characteristics are usually nonlinear.

Compression Spring: Stress and Spring Set


Compression Spring Stress
The dimensions, along with the load and deflection requirements, determine the stresses in the spring. When a compression spring is loaded, the coiled wire is stressed in torsion. The stress is greatest at the surface of the wire; as the spring is deflected, the load varies, producing a range of operating stress. Stress and stress range govern the life of the spring. The higher the stress range, the lower the maximum stress must be to attain comparable life. Relatively high stresses may be used when the stress range is low or if the spring is subjected solely to static loads. The stress at solid height must be high enough to permit presetting, yet low enough to avoid permanent damage since springs are often compressed solid during installation. Compression springs should be stress-relieved to remove residual bending stresses produced by the coiling operation. Depending on design and space limitations, compression springs may be categorized according to stress level as follows: Springs which can be compressed solid without permanent set, so that an extra operation for removing set is not needed. These springs are designed with torsional stress levels when compressed solid that do not exceed about 40 percent of the minimum tensile strength of the material. Springs which can be compressed solid without further permanent set after set has been initially removed. These may be pre-set by the spring manufacturer as an added operation, or they may be pre-set later by the user prior to or during the assembly operation. These are springs designed with torsional stress levels when compressed solid that do not exceed 60 percent of the minimum tensile strength of the material. Springs which cannot be compressed solid without some further permanent set taking place because set cannot be completely removed in advance. These springs involve torsional stress levels which exceed 60 percent of the minimum tensile strength of the material. The spring manufacturer will usually advise the user of the maximum allowable spring deflection without set whenever springs are specified in this category.

In designing compression springs the space allotted governs the dimensional limits of a spring with regard to allowable solid height and outside and inside diameters. These dimensional limits, together with the load and deflection

requirements, determine the stress level. It is extremely important to consider carefully the space allotted to insure that the spring will function properly to begin with, thereby avoiding costly design changes.

Compression Spring Set


When a custom spring is supplied longer than specified to compensate for length loss when fully compressed in assembly by customer, this is referred to as Allow for Set. This is usually recommended for large quantity orders to reduce cost. When a compression spring is compressed and released, it is supposed to return to its original height and, on further compressions, the load at any given point should remain constant at least within the load limits specified. When a spring is made and then compressed the first time, if the stress in the wire is high enough at the point the spring is compressed to, the spring will not return to its original height (i.e., it will get shorter). This is referred to as "taking a set", or "setting". Once the spring is compressed the first time and takes this set, the spring will generally not take any significant additional set on subsequent compressions. One way to deal with this problem is to make the spring initially a little bit too long and then compress the spring all the way to solid so that after the spring takes the initial set, it is now at the correct height to meet the load requirement. This is referred to as "presetting", "removing the set" or sometimes "scragging". Presetting is a labor intensive and relatively costly operation due to the amount of handling of the springs involved. In most cases, the customer will also handle each spring as the springs are assembled into the product. As part of this handling, the customer could press each spring and "remove the set" so that the spring will be stable and perform satisfactorily. Another alternative would be to assemble the spring as is and allow the first operation of the mechanism into which the spring has been assembled to "remove the set". In either case, in order for the spring to be correct after removing the set, the spring would have to be received by the customer in a condition longer than the final height.

Compression Spring Weight


For cost and manufacturing purposes, it is useful to calculate the weight of springs .For manufacturing purposes, it is easier to work with a unit quantity of 1000 springs, so the weight per 1000 springs is used instead. For round wire compression springs, the following formula can be used: .

Compression Spring Design General Considerations:


General Considerations
The following design procedure (and associated formulas) should be used for all compression spring designs. Following these general guidelines, there are more specific guidelines for dealing with the individual design cases.

1. Select the appropriate material for the spring design. Take note of the shear modulus (G) and tensile strength (TS), as these numbers will be used in future calculations. 2. Calculate the Dm and ID (or OD) of the spring. Compare the ID of the spring to any work over rod requirements. Remember to incorporate the low side of the OD (or ID) tolerance when examining the work over rod requirements.

3. The diameter of a compression spring will increase when compressed. This increase is a function of the pitch. Calculate the OD expansion and compare this to any work in hole requirements. Remember to incorporate the high side of the OD tolerance when examining the work in hole requirements.

4. Calculate the pitch (and therefore coils per inch) and the spring index. Verify that the pitch of the spring is not greater than the OD, as this will result in coiling difficulties. Also, take note of the spring index. End Type Open Open/Ground Closed Closed/Ground

If the spring index is not between the range of 4 and 10, further examination and considerations are required such as: o Special tooling (pencil arbors for tight index springs) o Special packaging (for flimsy or slinky type high index springs) o Stress relieving (would either not be applicable for springs with indexes over 25 or would require special handling to prevent distortion) o Tangling issues o No grinding (because grinding high index springs will actually worsen squareness) o No additional operations, such as plating or tumbling (because of tangling issues) Using one of the following five methods, establish the corresponding design criteria: a. Design based on physical dimensions

b. c. d. e.

Design based on spring rate Design based on two loads Design based on one load and spring rate Design based on one load and free length

6. Once the spring rate (R) and number of active coils (NA) has been established, calculate the number of total coils (NT). (This does not apply to designs that are based on physical dimensions.) End Type Open Open/Ground Closed Closed/Ground

7. Calculate the solid height (SH) and verify that any customer requirements are satisfied and that any load heights are above solid height. Allow a 3% variation to the nominal solid height value to calculate the maximum solid height. End Type Open Open/Ground Closed Closed/Ground

8. If the design has load requirements, the stress at these load heights must be calculated and compared against the tensile strength of the material. If the percent stress (see below) at any load height is greater than 40% (and the spring will not be compressed more than this particular height) then a set operation or allow for set should be considered. If the percent stress is greater than 60%, a re-design must be considered.

9. Unless the working range is specifically known, the stress at solid height must be examined. If the percent stress (see below) at solid height is greater than 40% then a set operation or allow for set should be considered. If the percent stress is greater than 60%, a re-design must be considered. If an overstressed situation is presented, the customer should be contacted in order to gain a better understanding of how the spring will be used.

10. Tolerances should be assigned to all required design criteria. Commercial tolerances should be used whenever possible. Tighter tolerances should be compared against the calculated process capability (CPC) for that feature. Generally speaking, a dimension can be held to its CPC value without generating scrap. Once the tolerance is below the CPC value, it is certain that not all parts will be within tolerance. Rework operations, stricter control over the manufacturing process, or allowances for scrap must be taken into consideration.

Diameter Tolerances
OD commercial tolerances chart: .025 to .050 O.D. .001 .051 to .100 O.D. .003 .101 to .250 O.D. + .003 - .005 .251 to .500 O.D. .008 .501 to .850 O.D. .015 CPC values: .851 to 1.125 O.D. .020 1.126 to 1.250 O.D. .025 1.251 to 1.480 O.D. .030 1.481 to 1.750 O.D. .040 1.751 to 2.000 O.D. .055

Free Length Tolerances


Calculate the commercial tolerance using the following formula:

(Note: If the Free Length (FL) value is less than 0.500 inch, substitute 0.500 inch as the FL value in the above calculation.) CPC Values:

Rate Tolerances

A tolerance of +/- 10% is the standard. Anything smaller than this must take into account the factors that influence the spring rate (the spring diameter, feed, and wire size variation). Generally speaking, the feed and wire size vary negligibly. Diameter variation is what primarily controls the variation on the spring rate. The following formulas should be used to calculate the commercial rate tolerance and rate CPC, if necessary.

Load Tolerances
A tolerance of +/- 10% is the standard. Anything smaller than this must take into account the factors that influence the load (the spring diameter, feed, free length, and wire size variation). Generally speaking, the feed and wire size vary negligibly. Diameter and length variation are what primarily control variation on the loads. Use the following formulas to calculate the commercial load tolerance and load CPC, if necessary.

Squareness
A tolerance of 3 maximum is standard. For any requirements that call for tighter squareness requirements, particular attention must be given to coiling and grinding setup hours (and frames).

Number of Coils
Generally speaking, the number of coils is not a dimension that will have a tolerance placed on it for manufacturing purposes. This is because it is somewhat difficult to measure the number of coils within a certain degree of accuracy. It is easier to put a tolerance on the spring rate, which is indirectly controlling the number of coils.

Compression spring design cases:


Design to Physical Dimensions
Required Information: Wire Size, Outside Diameter or Hole Size OR Inside Diameter or Rod Size, Free Length, Number of Coils (Active / Inactive), Ends Configuration, Solid Height Requirements. In addition to the general considerations (in the previous sections) the following information must be calculated:

Spring Rate

Spring rate is generally defined between 20% and 80% of the available deflection where it is linear.

Design to Spring Rate


Required Information: Wire Size, Outside Diameter or Hole Size OR Inside Diameter or Rod Size, Free Length, Spring Rate, Number of Inactive Coils, Ends Configuration, Solid Height Requirements. In addition to the general considerations (in the previous sections) the following information must be calculated: Number of Active Coils

Design to Two Loads


Required Information: Wire Size, Outside Diameter or Hole Size OR Inside Diameter or Rod Size, Load 1 @ Length 1, Load 2 @ Length 2, Number of Inactive Coils, Ends Configuration, Solid Height Requirements. In addition to the general considerations (in the previous sections) the following information must be calculated: Spring Rate

Number of Active Coils

Free Length

Design to One Load/Rate


Required Information: Wire Size, Outside Diameter or Hole Size OR Inside Diameter or Rod Size, Load 1 @ Length 1, Spring Rate, Ends Configuration, Solid Height Requirements, Number of Inactive Coils. In addition to the above general considerations (in the previous sections) the following information must be calculated: Number of Active Coils

Free Length

Design to One Load/Free Length


Required Information: Wire Size, Outside Diameter or Hole Size OR Inside Diameter or Rod Size, Load 1 @ Length 1, Free Length, Ends Configuration, Solid Height Requirements, Number of Inactive Coils. In addition to the above general considerations (in the previous sections) the following information must be calculated: Spring Rate

Number of Active Coils

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