Springs & Pressings

A Designers' Guide

‘Nobody ever thinks about springs at all, until they’re broken!’ It’s true. And, anyway, how do you choose which spring I get many visitors to my home in Bolton, wanting to see my steam workshops. As well as my steam engines, there’s also a good bit of industrial stuff and engineering tackle that I’ve saved from the scrap man and put to good use. You see, engines have always fascinated me right from being a kid. When I was approached to write the foreword for this book, I started to consider all the machines that I’ve come across over the years. Take for instance, the Victorian steam-driven machinery that I’m into. To make the operation run smoothly and safely it uses springs on the set of governor balls. Most machines, in fact, rely on springs to make them function properly even this newfangled, high-speed stuff such as the jackhammers that I use when demolishing a chimney. In fact, without springs, most machines, would be no use. Then over a pint or two later that night, the thought suddenly dawned on me. So now you know what to do when you’re in a bit of a pickle - ‘Just give them a ring, for advice on spring!’ Now take this grand little book here. It provides guidance on all these points and lots of other information as well. I reckon you’ll find it useful to keep and refer to as I will. The spring engineers who produced this book are real experts in their field and are happy to provide any further technical information you need. is right for your application when they vary so much in type and design? There’s wire or flat strip, the tolerance to specify, and will the heat treatment lead to dimensional variation? What about surface finish: do you need to paint, electroplate, shot-peen or what? It’s all rather interesting once you get into it, but you do need advice you can trust.

Spring 1. a spring is a device for storing mechanical energy when displaced.
2. a good spring is one which under load can take considerable deflection, and

return to its equilibrium without undergoing any lasting dimensional change.

Springs are everywhere!
Almost every m a c h i n e t h a t i s developed incorporates some form of spring, from telephones, and domestic appliances through to engines and medical devices and unless the spring is working correctly, the application will fail. Spring reliability is crucial, and statistics show that correct spring design is the most important factor in ensuring long life. Made from any of a wide variety of materials from plastic through to metal, spring design is a complex business. Involving a spring designer throughout the design process, from initial concept ideas through to prototyping and to production, pays dividends: any design modifications required as the process progresses, can be achieved quickly and efficiently with a spring specialist on board. This saves the design engineer both time

and redesign costs and ensures that the spring design is the most reliable, cost-efficient and long-lasting it can be. The spring designer is a valuable partner to engineering designers in both streamlining new product and machine design as well as reducing risk, and this book will take an engineering designer’s perspective. Springs and pressings manufactured primarily from ferrous and non-ferrous alloys form the focus.

SECTION 1: Wire Components SECTION 2: Flat Strip Components British Standards quoted are under review at the time of publication.

and shock loading. for the wire size 1. 5202.60mm the range of material grades taken from BS5216 generally used are as follows: .Spring Materials - The right material for the job Spring materials are chosen for their strength and are amongst the strongest materials used in industry. helically wound compression springs are able to be stressed to 70% or greater. Strip materials will be discussed later.00mm cold drawn carbon steels specified under standards such as BS5216. due to their relative low cost and their wide availability. Also spring materials have to be able to work in extreme environments such as elevated or low temperatures and corrosive solutions and be able to undergo extreme dynamic loading. In this section ‘we will deal with the more commonly used spring wire materials. than the ultimate tensile strength of the material. For sizes lower than 2. For instance. For general engineering purposes spring steels are the best choice for the designer. There are many different types of materials available to the spring designer. Spring materials are also utilised for their electrical and magnetic capabilities. For instance. These materials come in a range of strengths and surface finishes that can be matched to the spring’s end requirements. Springs are designed to work to far greater working stresses than virtually any another component. DEFlO6 are the highest strength. They also are the strongest materials that the designer can choose.

or the working temperatures are too high. Other types of spring material are low alloy or carbon pre-hardened and tempered steels. so the ultimate tensile strength does not depend on the wire size. There are many standards covering pre-hardened and tempered materials. They have excellent static and dynamic properties. depending on whether it is a carbon steel or one of the many low alloy steels. so the ultimate tensile strength of the material decreases. These are stronger than cold drawn materials above the size of 2. like all carbon or low alloy steels will require some form of corrosive protection. These materials are drawn annealed and are then hardened by the wire manufacturer to produce a high strength material. Some of the above grades are available pre-drawn with a zinc or aluminium/zinc coating that will give sufficient corrosion protection for non-arduous applications. Otherwise the above materials. The mechanical strength for these materials is obtained through the hardening process.00mm. There are many grades of stainless steel varying in their . as the size of wire increases. Alloys such as silicon chrome (BS2083 685A55) or chrome vanadium (BS2083 730A65) are among the most widely used. In fact.The grades also refer to the material surface finish and therefore dynamic qualities as follows: Due to the fact that the mechanical strength is obtained through the drawing process. but are prone to corrode readily without surface protection. it is possible to obtain a higher ultimate tensile strength with larger section materials than lower section. Stainless steels are used widely throughout manufacturing where the corrosive or relaxation resistance requirements are too great for normal spring steels.

If greater strength is required. This causes small precipitates to grow through the material. Stainless steel grades are covered by BS2056 1991. but there are precipitation hardening grades that are nearly of equivalent strength. There are three alloys that find a place in spring manufacture covered by BS2873. but for greater corrosion resistance especially salt water. with its high tin content. depending the amount of heat treatment carried out at the mill. increasing the ultimate tensile strength. grades 316533 and 316542 are used.OOmm wire has a minimum ultimate tensile strength of 1710 N/mm2. has the higher tensile strength. . l. If very low magnetic permeability is required there are two stainless grades that can be used. 302526 both similar having 17%/18% chromium and 7%/8% nickel respectively. but as it can be hardened it can be used to greater working stresses than the other copper alloys. and due to this it is the most widely used copper alloy. precipitation-hardening stainless steels can be used. The stainless grades detailed above all get their strength from the cold drawing process. These are 305511 and 904514. It can be purchased in a variety of hardnesses. After the springs are manufactured they are heat treated at 480°C. in the as drawn condition. This process makes the materials slightly magnetic. Copper-based alloys are used where high electrical and thermal conductivity. while after heat treatment this is increased to 2030N/mm*. nonmagnetic or good atmospheric resistance are required. Phosphorus bronze. having molybdenum added for improved resistance to chlorides. It is the most expensive copper alloy. They are CZ107. PB103 get their material strength from the work performed in cold drawing. Spring brass wire CZ107 and phosphorus bronze PB102. PB103 phosphorus bronze and CB102 beryllium copper. These grades are used widely. PB102. a spring brass wire.mechanical properties and corrosion protection. For example. Beryllium copper CB102 is a precipitation hardening material. This increase is at the cost of a slightly inferior corrosion performance than 302526 and 301526. which are virtually free from residual magnetism. and the grades generally used are 301526. Generally stainless steels are about 20% weaker than spring steels of the same size.


In the case of an unprestressed compression spring manufactured from a BS5216 spring steel. these springs can be likened to a torsion bar. Compression springs. This dimensional change has to be taken into account by the spring maker before coiling. reducing the effective number of active coils. In the case of cold drawn spring steel this would be at a temperature between 220°C and 375°C for 10 minutes to 1 hour depending on the type of spring and its application. The problem with stress relieving is that as the ‘coiled in’ stresses are removed. However. more detail will be given here than in the next chapter on extension or torsion springs. In addition. are stressed in torsion. thus increasing the spring rate. Stress relieving also slightly increases the elastic limit of the material and stabilises the spring’s dimensions. 85% of the total deflection available. fretting (wear) can occur between the faces of the contacting coils (see section on fatigue. at most. when operating dynamically. the spring will move and this leads to dimensional change. There is a limit to which materials can be stressed in torsion and this is related to the materials ultimate tensile strength.It is generally recommended that all spring materials are subjected to a stress-relieving operation after forming. wound helically to reduce the space taken up. like extension springs. many of the design details listed below are equally relevant to extension and torsion springs. the stress limit in torsion is 49% of the ultimate tensile strength. . page 21). In effect. Beyond this position. l Compression springs are generally designed so that the minimum working position is. as these stresses are not beneficial. Compression springs are widely used throughout industry as they are relatively simple to produce and have excellent static and dynamic properties. Stress relieving is often not carried out on extension springs as the heat treatment reduces the amount of initial tension. The object of this is to reduce the stresses introduced during coiling. especially in the case of compression and extension springs. coils will begin to contact each other. Given that compression springs are the most widely used helically wound springs.

as they are determined by the tolerances on the working loads. Any environmental factors that may affect the spring’s performance or the performance of the product are important. Standard drawing tolerances can increase the cost of the component. especially if the temperature is to be elevated. Where the end formation has closed coils. the ability to conduct electricity and magnetic fields will all affect the choice of material. this reduces the number of active coils. The choice of spring type can also be dictated by a number of other factors: the spring’s anticipated working requirements. elevated temperatures. Corrosive environments. If it is important to maintain a force within close limits throughout the life of the springs. the end formation can be considered as relatively stable. the spring diameter and the cost of the end product. There is an uncertainty in measuring the number of active coils within a spring. A closed and ground spring requires more manufacturing processes than a simple closed or open spring. This is unless they are required for assembly purposes. the wire diameter. its fittings.When defining the free length tolerances are generally not specified when there are two or more working positions. There are tables available for all materials to assist the spring designer with these calculations. . The working environment must be taken into account when designing a spring. It is best to consult the spring designer / manufacturer when applying tolerances to a spring component. and because of this the British Standard tolerances do not apply for a spring with less than 3. The end formation will affect the springs tendency to buckle. There are a number of choices of end coil formation available for compression springs (see diagram 7). which in many applications is unacceptable. the amount of relaxation that will take place should be quantified.5 total coils. but when the wire diameter to mean diameter ratio is high. Active coils are those that deflect and contribute to the spring’s rate. The ground end of a spring does give much better stability than the other end formations.

A low spring index indicates the spring has a high spring rate.Nomenclature and Units Spring Index = 4 The Spring Index gives an indication of how tightly a spring is wound. British standards for coiled spring tolerances only apply to springs with indices between 3. Springs outside this range can prove more difficult to manufacture.5 and 16. .

therefore small changes in wire diameter and mean diameter can lead to large changes in spring rate. If the loads and deflection of a spring are known. the stress can be calculated using the following formula: . Therefore the load at any deflection can be calculated from: The theoretical solid load can be calculated from: Residual Range It is important to remember that a compression spring should not exceed 85% of the total available deflection.The spring rate is the increase in load for a given deflection. spring rate can be easily calculated using the following equation: For a compression spring of known dimensions the following formula can be used: It should be noted that in the above formula the wire size is to the fourth power and the mean diameter is cubed. the minimum working length and maximum load can be calculated from: Stress Calculations If the dimensions of the spring are known. Therefore. This is an important consideration in calculating spring tolerances.

It should be noted that the greatest stress is at the inside face of the spring. Conical Springs are used when the application requires a non-linear spring rate and/or where space is limited. This reduces the number of active coils thus increasing the spring rate (see diagram 2). used to correct for the uneven stress distribution across the section stemming from the curvature of the wire. coils begin to contact. The larger coils move farther as they have the lowest spring rate and will contact sooner. page 21).The factor K is the curvature correction factor. The formula below is the Sopwith curvature correction factor. great care must be taken to give the correct clearances. The MATERIAL REFERENCE TABLE on page 6 gives the maximum allowable static stresses as a percentage of the ultimate tensile strength of different materials. The non-linear spring rate is created when the spring is coiled so that when the spring is deflected. If the spring is operating dynamically. . more care needs to be taken with the design (see section on Factors affecting the Fatigue Performance of Helically Wound Springs. Values of ultimate tensile strength can be found in the relevant British Standards. This is why when the spring is operating over a shaft.

The spring will then have a solid length of one wire diameter. Nested springs also enable the designer to reduce the length of the spring. Nesting springs means to have one or more springs sitting inside a larger spring. By reducing the working stresses within each nested spring. particularly within a small space. the probable working life of the springs is increased. These springs are used widely in demanding applications where high loads and long fatigue life are required. . thus reducing the chance of buckling. Nested springs enable the spring designer to get more loadbearing material into a fixed space. the springs are able to support a greater load than one spring alone could withstand. When designing nested springs. This is very useful when the space is restricted (see diagram 3). By so doing. otherwise tangling is likely to occur in operation. The design of conical compression springs is much more complex than that of parallelsided springs. The calculations can only give an approximation of the spring’s behaviour as small changes in the pitch of the spring can produce large changes in the load/ deflection characteristics.Conical springs can also be coiled so that when the spring is compressed the coils lie inside each other. it must be remembered that the springs adjacent to each other must be coiled in different directions.

In order to apply the force. the force must exceed the initial tension before the spring deflects. . Examples of end form inserts are shown below. Initial tension is the force which holds together the coils of an extension spring: as a force is applied to an extension spring. The more complex the end formation. This will give a load/deflection curve as shown below.The difference between helical compression and helical extension springs is in the direction of load application and the method by which it is applied. special end forms generally have to be used. the greater the manufacturing tolerances and the greater the likely manufacturing cost. The formulae used to calculate extension springs are very similar to those of compression springs except for an extra property called initial tension. or special screwed-in inserts. either utilising the formed end coils.

tensioning devices and counter balances. The working environment must be taken into account when designing a spring. the ability to conduct electricity and magnetic fields will all affect the choice of material. as they are determined by the tolerances on the working loads. There are preferable values of initial tension. When defining the free length Lo.The initial part of the curve shows where the end loops deflect and where the initial tension is not constant throughout the spring as some coils become active before the rest. especially if the temperature is elevated. Sometimes initial tension is not desired. If an extension spring has not been heat treated. This is unless required for assembly purposes. tolerances are generally not specified when there are two or more working positions. Using initial tension enables the designer to produce springs with large initial tension but with a low spring rate. l l l l l . falling outside this range can lead to greater manufacturing tolerances. The spring will then give a linear spring rate. There are tables for all materials that assist the spring designer in undertaking these calculations. Extension springs are sometimes not heat treated as this process reduces the amount of initial tension in the spring. Examples of this are electrical switchgear. l When designing extension springs is recommended that the maximum working position is at most 85% of the total possible deflection. It is best to consult the spring designer/manufacturer when applying tolerances to a spring component. Corrosive environments. If it is important to maintain a force with close limits throughout the life of the springs. An example of this is a governor spring in a diesel engine. Any environmental factors that may affect the spring’s performance or the performance of the product are important. the maximum allowable stresses must be reduced. In this case the spring needs to be coiled with a slight pitch. The spring will then give a nearly constant load/ deflection characteristic. it is important to quantify the amount of relaxation that will take place. Standard drawing tolerances can increase the cost of the component. elevated temperatures. The amount of initial tension that can be coiled into a spring depends on the relationship between the mean diameter and the wire diameter (spring index). the strength of the material and the manufacturing process used.


. if you wish further information on this. extension springs should not be stressed as highly as compression springs. The MATERIAL REFERENCE TABLE on page 6 gives the maximum allowable static stresses as a percentage of the ultimate tensile strength of different materials.Initial tension can be calculated by taking measured loads at lengths and using the formula below: The spring rate of an extension springs is calculated using the same formula as for calculating compression springs: It should be noted that in the above formula the wire size is to the fourth power and the mean diameter is cubed. Therefore the load at any deflection can be calculated from: There are a number of complex formulae to calculate the end loop stress. please contact the author. The stress for a given load can be calculated using the following equation: As stated previously. Values of ultimate tensile strength can be found in the relevant British Standards. therefore small changes in wire diameter and mean diameter can lead to large changes in spring rate. an important factor in calculating spring tolerances.

The type of spring leg is dictated by the application and can be as simple as a tangential straight leg or much more complex. in effect.If the spring is operating dynamically. The mode of operation of torsion springs is different from compression springs and extension springs. If a torsion spring is operated in the opposite direction. . Torsion springs supply or withstand torque. A torsion spring is. A number of leg forms can be seen below. Torsion Springs should always be operated in the wind up condition. more care needs to be taken with the spring’s design (see section on Factors affecting the Fatigue Performance of Helically Wound Springs). whereas torsion springs are stressed in bending. the spring is unable to withstand as great a deflection. to’supply this torque torsion springs require some form of spring leg. It should be noted that it is best to keep the legs as simple as possible to reduce manufacturing tolerances and manufacturing difficulties. a woundup cantilever. Compression and extension springs are stressed in torsion.

the spring requirements are specified to the spring designer as a load applied to the legs. . It is necessary to convert this into a torque. The torque can be calculated by: Torque T = Applied load X Distance to Spring Axis The distance is from the applied load to the spring axis at right angles to the applied load.Generally.

The body length increases by one wire size for every 360º of deflection. and this will probably lead to spring failure. The legs will then take all of the torque and will consequently take a permanent set. l l If there are known torque deflection requirements. the following happens: l The number of coils increases hence the body length increases. If not enough clearance is allowed between the shaft and the spring. if not enough space has been allowed within the application.It should be remembered that when torque is applied to a torsion spring. It is best to consult the spring designer/manufacturer when applying tolerances to a spring component. The mean diameter of the spring decreases. This can mean that. Standard drawing tolerances can increase the cost of the component. the spring will bind. the spring rate can be calculated using the following: . This is important to remember as most torsion springs work over a shaft. the spring will bind onto the shaft.

It is more like the diagram shown below. One way to reduce this is to coil the torsion spring with a slight pitch. but due to how torsion springs are operated it is impossible to remove all friction. This is due to friction within the spring and the mechanism. the following formula can be used: The above formula takes into account the deflection due to the applied torque.If the springs dimensions are known. The torque/deflection curve for a torsion spring is generally not a straight line. The deflection of a torsion spring under an applied torque can be calculated as follows The body length of a close coiled torsion spring unloaded is expressed as: . The torque when unloading is less than the torque when winding up for the same position.

more care needs to be taken with its design (see section on Factors affecting the Fatigue Performance of Helically Wound Springs below). the applied stress is in bending. = C c . Over this.000 cycles during its operating life then it is deemed to be working statically and fatigue does not play a part. Therefore much study has been made of the behaviour of springs under fluctuating loads. The spring designer should reduce these figures by 15% to ensure that the spring is never overstressed either in operation or during installation. the stress correction factor. . Without the spring many applications will either cease to work or work less efficiently. and prestressed torsion springs can be stressed up to 100% of the ultimate tensile strength. Because of this torsion springs can be operated to higher stress levels than compression and extension springs. fatigue will affect the performance of the spring and should be taken into account during the design process.75 With torsion springs. If the spring is operating dynamically. If a spring is operated less than 10.0. Unprestressed torsion springs can be stressed up to 70% of the ultimate tensile strength of the material.In the spring’s working position the body length is: The bending stress for torsion springs can be calculated using the following: Where K. Reliability is of great importance to many spring users.

To calculate the expected life of -the spring the working stresses are plotted against the relevant axis. The working stress at these positions can simply be calculated.e. Generally the graphs represent 95% surety. Goodman diagrams are available for the many different grades and types of material used. To do this.The factors that affect the fatigue performance of springs in the main are: l l l Working Stress Material Surface Quality Wear In operation springs generally work between two fixed positions. i. the results can then be used to predict the working life of the spring. The majority of Goodman diagrams only apply to compression springs. the spring can be expected to work for the number of cycles the graph represents. 95% of the springs can be expected to achieve the number of cycles. An example of a Goodman diagram is shown below. If the intersection of the plotted stresses falls within the shaded area. these are based on data that has been obtained through many years of experimentation at centres such as The Institute of Spring Technology. . Goodman diagrams need to be used.

providing the swivel loops only contact the coned section (see diagram 10). Use coned ends with swivel loops. Tooling marks creating stress When loops are formed in extension springs small tooling marks are unavoidably created. Such marks are stress raisers which increase the likelihood of a failure at this point. Loop bends too small Another reason is that sometimes loops are formed using bends that are too small. The loops are subjected to a bending stress and torsion stress and the majority of Goodman diagrams for spring materials are for materials stressed in torsion.Extension springs suffer a number of problems when operating in a dynamic environment. There are two available solutions: l Use a loop with a transition radius between the spring body and the end loop of approximately the body radius. l . This is very successful in reducing fatigue. This point of transition between the spring body and the loop is generally the point of highest stress. A small radius is a stress raiser. they are: l Breakage near the loop The most common cause of failure in extension springs is when the loop of the spring breaks off in the area where the hook meets the body of the spring. l l Different types of end loop will lead to different fatigue performances.

This can lead to a reduction in material cross section.If an extension spring is required to work dynamically. Shot-peening is generally carried out only on compression springs and large leaf springs as the shot would get trapped in the coils of close wound torsion and extension springs. If a spring is allowed to contact either the shaft or the wall of the bore when operating. Another cause of wear is when a spring works over a shaft or in a bore. therefore the greater the surface quality. When this happens there is a chance that the contacting faces of the coils will wear. the better the fatigue performance. the number of active coils will reduce due to coils coming into contact with each other. therefore. Wear. increasing the stress at this position. should be avoided at all costs. * The better the surface quality of the material. Shot-peening involves firing small rounded beads of material at the surface of the spring. the wear can lead to premature failure especially if the inside diameter of the spring is worn as this is where the working stresses are the greatest. 4 The lower the working stresses the greater the expected life of the spring. Material surface quality is important when seeking to avoid risk of spring failure. Torsion springs have a lower fatigue performance than compression and extension springs. This will lead to a small residual compressive stress on the material surface which lowers the chance of a fatigue crack propagating and increases the working stresses possible. . Fatigue cracks generally propagate from the surface of the material. When a spring is operating dynamically it is important that the maximum deflection should not exceed 85% of the available deflection. It is possible to improve the surface quality by a number of methods. the inside face of the coils would not be peened and this would eliminate the benefits of the process. Also. it must be remembered that extension springs have approximately 20% lower performance with regard to fatigue than compression springs. the better the fatigue performance. The reason for this is that when a spring is working close to its solid (coil bound) length. Most popular is Shot-peening. Wear can be caused in a number of ways.

stress relieved and ground. Prestressing can also be carried out for tension and torsion springs. Once the spring has been coiled. This is then repeated a number of times. . however. When a spring is prestressed there are dimensional changes. The benefits. when an extension spring is prestressed the amount of initial tension is reduced and is therefore not often carried out. the spring is placed on a press or similar and compressed to a solid or fixed position which is greater than its maximum working position. Torsion springs require special jigs to successfully prestress them. When prestressing is carried out the leg relationship changes. The spring will then be shorter than the coiled spring but with the correct initial set up. The prestressing operation for compression springs is relatively simple.This is mainly due to the friction and wear between the spring and the shaft that it is working over and the leg fixings. but is unlikely to be eliminated. it will be possible to achieve the required final length. This means that the springmaker must allow for this during manufacture. Unfortunately. Other factors that affect the fatigue performance include corrosion. * Removing the possibility of wear in a spring application will improve the spring’s fatigue performance. generally outweigh the additional cost. material cleanliness and speed of operation. This can be reduced by good design. ie the number of coils slightly increases. As prestressing is an additional operation in the manufacture of a spring. this will increase its unit cost. generally no less than three. Any questions regarding these or any of the above should be directed to the author.

Texture rolled materials can be obtained under a proprietary name Leetex 80. a heat treatment after forming will increase the materials strength and hardness.g. stainless steels and copper alloys only. there is available CS70HT. If you require more information on materials such as nickel alloys. The material has good surface finish. In the hard condition which is covered in the British Standards by BS5770 pt 3. These materials are obtained in the hard condition and are used in applications such as clock springs and seat belt retaining springs. there is a wide range of strip materials available to the spring manufacturer. and some spring materials are able to be heat treated to increase their strength and hardness. There are a number of grades of carbon steel strip. CS70 has 0. CS95HT.7% carbon. CS80HT. If operating in a corrosive environment. Where formability is not an issue there are heat treated grades of spring steel and texture rolled materials. Due to the vast range of materials available this section will deal with carbon steels. The number in the grade designates the percentage of carbon in the alloy e. Strip materials can be obtained in different grades of hardness. CS70 and CS95 annealed. many low strength alloys are used.As with wire. . generally for their formability and electrical conductivity. uniformity of mechanical properties and precision thickness tolerances. British Standards for annealed spring steels include BS5770 Pt 2 CS50. As many parts produced in strip are not primarily used as a spring. Annealed carbon steel strip is used where formability is required. It is a high strength material and is used widely in seat belt retainers. the method of manufacture and whether a heat treatment is used. please contact the author. carbon steel springs require some form of protection as these materials will corrode readily. These grades are classified according to the carbon content.

316516. Phosphorus bronze.These materials are widely used for their corrosion resistance. has the higher tensile strength. Stainless steels are about 20% weaker than heat treated springs steels of the same size. All these grades can be obtained in varying levels of spring hardness. As the hardness of stainless steel is generated during the cold rolling process. the work hardening will cause the stainless steel to be slightly magnetic. It can be purchased in a variety of hardnesses depending the amount of heat treatment carried out at the mill. but as it can be precipitation hardened it can be used to greater working stresses than the other copper alloys. a spring brass strip. British Standards covering stainless steel strip materials include BS5770 Pt 4 302525. depending on the thickness of the material. CuSn6 get their material strength from the work performed in cold working. but as the majority of copper-alloy strip components are used as electrical contacts many copper parts are electro-plated. their ability to withstand elevated temperatures and their resistance to relaxation. They are CuZn36. with its high tin content. CuSn6 phosphorus bronze and CuBe2 beryllium copper. 301521. Stainless steels are generally obtained in the hard rolled condition. strip components designed to be manufactured from stainless steels should take the effect of spring hardness into account. It is the most expensive copper alloy. . Spring brass strip CuZn36 and phosphorus bronze CuSn5. There are three alloys that find a place in spring manufacture covered by EN 1654. Beryllium copper CuBe2 is a precipitation hardening material. CuSn5. Copper-based alloys are used where high electrical and thermal conductivity and or where being non-magnetic is a priority. Copper-alloys also exhibit good atmospheric corrosion resistance. and due to this it is the most widely used copper alloy.


made up of a number of sections operating as cantilevers. Many flat strip parts are designed to perform more than one mechanical function thereby reducing the number of components. The hardness of the material affects the minimum bend radius. in effect. used in seat belt retention. But even complex parts. computers and medical equipment there are a wide variety of shapes all formed from a simple coil or sheet of flat material. also the complexities of many of the equations fall outside the bounds of this Guide. Below is a table of ‘minimum bend radius’ for a number of materials. When designing a strip component it is good practice to ask the advice of a spring designer. Many strip parts are. Due to the wide variety of strip parts it is difficult to discuss them in any great detail. The simplest part to produce is the most economical to produce in small quantities. with simpleto-calculate loads and deflections. the edge finish will depend of the performance of the tooling. Strip springs are not limited to just simple cantilevers. There are spring washers such as disc springs which are able to provide a high spring rates over a small movement. . but if the components are punched out of the material. can also be produced at low cost. and constant force springs.The fatigue performance of strip materials is greatly affected by the edge and surface condition. The only obstacle to strip design is the imagination of the designer. when produced on production tooling. The number of different variations of strip parts is virtually infinite. l Material hardness is very important when designing a flat strip component. Flat strip parts can be very complicated in their form. The simplest strip spring is probably a leaf spring operating as a cantilever. It is possible to purchase some strip materials with a dressed or rounded edge which greatly improves the fatigue performance. and the practical limitations of manufacture. devices that are able to provide an almost constant force over a large deflection. Inside many products such as mobile phones.

Standard drawing tolerances can increase the cost of the component. The spring back will also affect the radius of the bend. When forming a bend in a spring material it is important to remember ‘Spring Back’. . This may cause the hole to stretch and affect the smoothness of the bend. This can cause the hole to deform the edge or the other hole. For instance. Going below the above figures would prove to be difficult. This must be taken into account when designing the tooling and consequently when designing the part. and may lead to cracking of the material on the outside bend radius of the material. all spring materials will exhibit some form of ‘Spring Back’. If a component requires bends perpendicular to each other with radii close the minimum bend radius. Avoid punched holes or slots too close to the edge of the component or another hole. As can be seen. the material will return to an angle greater that 90º. It is best to consult the spring designer/manufacturer when applying tolerances to a spring component. when forming a bend of 90º. it is good design practice to orientate the component by 45º relative to the rolling direction. Depending on the hardness of the material. the orientation of the bend on the strip affects the minimum bend radius. The bend radius refers to the inside bend radius. Avoid punched holes or slots on a bend or too close to a bend.t = thickness The direction of rolling is along the strip.

the calculations of force and stress are much more complex than those for helical compression. it is best to validate the spring design by manufacturing a number of samples. extension and torsion springs. Equations are set up for each section to calculate the deflection using the bending moment. Depending on the shape and loading of the component a number of standard equations exists (see diagram 71).Due to the complexity of strip parts. The sections can be of varying width ie. If the part does not correspond to any of these parts. A more accurate calculation tool is Custigliano’s 2nd theorem. using the bending moment at this point. more complex solutions must be sought. Finite Element Analysis is carried out using specialist software packages. Due to the complexities of the mathematics involved the calculations are best carried out on software such as MathCad. tapered. This is generally only used where the component is complex and has a number of loads applied. Due to the nature of flat strip design. The component is broken down into a number of sections comprising of beams and curved sections. . The most accurate form of calculation for strip components is by using Finite Element Analysis. The deflections for each section can then be summed up to produce the deflection of the whole component. The maximum working stress can be calculated at the furthest distance from the applied load. These can then be tested to verify the performance.

The tool has to be designed carefully to form the component in the correct sequence (see diagram 72). . A small section of material is left to carry the part forwards to the subsequent forming stages. For medium to high volume production. This process is time consuming but allows the customers to have parts without investing in production tooling. Wire-eroding or chemical milling can produce development blanks where required. The last stage cuts out the section of material that has carried the component forward.There are a number of ways flat strip components can be produced. it is possible to produce most parts without tooling. The tooling cost is relatively small and increases the production speed considerably over the previous process. generally depending on the volume required. the developed components are not completely blanked out.g. components can be blanked out on tooling. and standard tools can be used to form the parts to the required dimensions. prototype samples. As the part progresses through the tool the component undergoes a sequence of forming operations. The two main ways on achieving this is by using progression tooling or multislide form tools. In progression tools the material is indexed forward to each forming stage. When a small number of components are required e. When producing parts on progression and multi-slide tooling. If the volume is larger. the flat strip component is manufactured complete on one piece of equipment. and formed in subsequent operations on separate equipment. until the part is fully formed.

On the ends of the slides there are forming tools designed specifically for the component. controlled by either cams or servomotors. Obviously. Depending on the application. but this may not be possible where costs need to be kept down or where the material needs to be of a required strength. are excellent for corrosion resistance but the cost of the materials can be prohibitive. These slides are able to move forward and backwards along their axis. but then the material is indexed forward to where a number of forming slides operate. The number of slides employed in this procedure is determined by the complexity of the finished component (see diagram 13). Where the spring operates in a corrosive environment some form of surface protection is required. These tools are complex to design but are able to produce finished parts at very high speed allowing very low unit prices. particular. this can take a number of forms. Nickel alloys in. the spring can be designed in a material that will not readily corrode in the application’s working environment. bending the material as desired. and parting the component from the strip. .In multi-slide tools there is an initial blanking stage. Using new CAD technology it is possible to design tooling for strip components precisely and very quickly. During the forming operation the slides move inwards in a predetermined pattern. allowing us to design the tooling as efficiently as possible.

The easiest method is as stated earlier. It is important to note that with electroplating there is a risk of hydrogen embrittlement. The problem with this method is that the protection is only effective until it is damaged. a better protection is required. It is important to use the correct electroplated metal as this is the key to good corrosion resistance. copper and chromium plate. Zinc plate and cadmium (rarely used due to its toxicity) corrode in preference to steel and so will protect even when the surface coating is damaged. and so is used widely in the electronics industry. Nickel plate is only generally used when the component will undergo soldering. A popular method of obtaining a metallic finish is to electroplate the springs. and an equally effective corrosion resistance. to manufacture the spring from carbon steel. or in storage providing the conditions are not too testing. and avoid the risk of hydrogen embrittlement. This may be sufficient in some circumstances. A mechanical zinc or zinc alloy plate will give zero risk of hyd rogen embrittlement. . A metallic finish is more generally used. and can generally be obtained in either a black or silver finish. The spring material will then be liable to corrosion underneath the finish. will lead to the steel corroding in preference to. Another method of protecting the springs from corrosion is by either plastic coating or painting. when damaged. This should give sufficient corrosion protection for springs in transit. These processes give a superior protection to mechanical or electroplating. To minimise the risk a deembrittlement process is carried out.The simplest method is to simply oil or grease the springs. Low alloy spring steels such as BS2083 685A55 should not be electroplated under any circumstances due to the high risk of hydrogen embrittlement. Other methods include coating the spring with a resin impregnated with zinc flakes. This will lead to component failure when it is loaded. if not. wire drawn with a galvanised coating. Nickel. the surface coating and so is not recommended. The de-embrittlement process is where the components are held at an elevated temperature of 190-200°C for up to 24 hours to drive out the hydrogen. These are proprietary processes and can either be obtained under the name Deltatone or Dacromet.

many areas that space limitations have prevented us from exploring.“Springs and pressings technology is a complicated business and I hope that this booklet serves as a lasting reference tool. There are.uk .Eng(Hons) Technical Director matt@southernsprings.co. but we are always available to discuss any technical challenges you face. of course.” Matt Drew B.

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