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Leaf Springs

This type of spring was universally used on cars, lorries, and railway trucks. Whilst the introduction of independent suspension has
reduced the automotive use, leaf springs are still in common use. The spring is made up of a number of leaves of equal length but
varying length , placed in laminations and loaded as a beam. There are two main types. The " Semi-elliptic" is simply supported at
both ends and loaded at it's centre whilst the quarter-elliptic is arranged as a cantilever.
Semi-Elliptical Type
In order to develop a simplified theory, it is assumed that the ends of each leaf ( where they extend beyond their neighbour)are
tapered uniformly to a point. It is also assume that the "pack"is complete and that the shortest leaf is diamond shaped. These
assumptions are not realised in practice. The main leaf must by necessity retain it's full width where it is supported. These slight
departures from design do not seriously affect the the theory.


• l = span ( assumed constant)

• b = width of leaves

• t = thickness of leaves

• W = central load

• y = rise of crown above the level of the ends

• n = The number of leaves in the spring

If the leaves are initially curved to circular arcs of the same radius , contact between the leaves will only take place at their
ends and consequently the loading of any one leaf will be as shown in the following diagram.
Over the central portion both M and I are constant whilst over the end section both M and I are proportional to the distance from
the end. Consequently over the whole leaf M/I is constant.


Since is assumed to remain constant, the radius of curvature R in the strained case must be the same for all leaves and
contact continues to be through the eds only.
Friction between the leaves is ignored and it is assumed that each leaf is free to slide over it's neighbour and since they all
maintain the same radius of curvature they can be imagined to be arranged side by side to form a curved beam of constant depth
and varying width ( as shown)
As the bending moment for the equivalent section is directly proportional to the distance from either end and I also varies
uniformly, it can be seen that the spring is equivalent to a beam of uniform strength ( i.e. the beam has the same maximum
strength at all sections)
Now consider any convenient cross section. In the following analysis the central section has been used.


Using equations of a circle

and treating y as small compared to R

Rewriting equation (65)


The deflection is given by;-

The load required to straighten the load is called the "Proof Load" and is given by

The maximum bending stress is given by:-



Quarter-elliptic type
The analysis is similar to to that used above. In this case the equivalent plan section varies from zero to nb at the fixed end and
the other values at this end are:-



Substituting in equation 65





Example 5

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A laminated steel spring , simply supported at the ends and centrally loaded, with a span of 30 in., is required to
carry a proof load of 0.75 tons whilst the central deflection is not to exceed 2 in. The bending stress must not exceed

25tons/ Plates are available in multiples of

.Determine suitable values for width; thickness; number of plates and calculate the radius to which the plates should

be formed. Assume that the width is twelve times thickness and that
Equation (71)




Equation (75)


Dividing (86) by (89)


From equation (89)

The actual deflection under the proof load of 0.75 tons.


since the spring is now straight, the initial radius of curvature is given by:-



Flat Spiral Springs