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FEATURE SPRINGS & SHOCK ABSORBERS


WHAT CONSIDERATIONS SPRING to mind when specifying components?


For many engineers specification of springs is a frequent occurrence and, with companies like Lee Spring offering ex-stock catalogues of 25,000 plus items, most


requirements can be met from standard products. However, it has been estimated that around half of springs used are custom specification in some way, and many of the standard items have variants like hooks, eyes or other special operations. So to help, Chris Petts, MD, Lee Spring, guides us through the spring specification process


F


or those specifying springs, suppliers try to make the process easy and


quick, covering all the basic parameters such as (for compression springs) outside diameter, minimum hole diameter, maximum rod diameter, wire diameter, nominal load, working height, solid height, spring rate, free length and, of course, materials and finishes. But with so many springs used being custom specification, there are many points to think about. Let us first consider the key factors that need to be understood when specifying springs today. For example, medical, aerospace, food and toy applications demand special load characteristics and treatments, including ultrasonic cleaning; while RoHS, WEEE and REACH have strongly influenced the types of finishes offered. The first step of course is to match the application to the basic spring


configuration, of which there are many types. The most popular of these are compression, extension, torsion, wave and disc springs. Added to these are conical, swivel hook, battery and drawbar springs. More recent additions include continuous-length extension springs, light-pressure and plastic composite springs, as featured in Lee Spring’s standard and custom ranges.


COMPRESSION SPRINGS To start, Compression Springs offer resistance to a compressive force applied axially. They are manufactured by coiling as constant-diameter cylinders, where other common forms include conical, tapered, concave and convex configurations, as well as combinations. Most compression


springs are manufactured in round wire which has proven the test of time for most standard and custom purposes. But, square, rectangular or wire with special sections can be specified if needed. Generally, compression springs are designed to work in a bore or over a rod. For most applications we supply them as standard with end coils closed and ground square for optimum alignment and reduced solid height. They can, however, also be pre- stressed during manufacture to maintain their length for repeated compressive forces. Crucial to the accurate design of compression


springs is a good understanding of both the practical and the ultimate


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