Last edited 05 Nov 2019

How springs work

Contents

[edit] Introduction

Springs are an incredible feat of engineering, and life would not be quite the same without them. Used in the vast majority of products and technology we use in day-to-day life, springs are relatively simple, but how do they work?

Spring.jpg

[edit] How does a spring operate?

As a spring’s wire is bent, energy will be used in the process, some of which will be stored within the spring. When energy is stored within a spring, it is referred to as being ‘prestressed’. As the spring is wound more and more, it becomes far easier to squeeze and stretch the material because the atoms found in the material are being moved out of their usual position, making the material more receptive to manipulation.

Springs are fantastic at storing and absorbing energy. That is why the tighter a spring is, the more energy is required to move it – although it is worth noting that once the energy has been expended in order to deform the spring, this energy is not lost, it is stored as potential energy within the spring. Essentially, this means that when the tightly-coiled spring is next released, the energy that was used to coil up the spring will be released.

The best way to think of the whole process is outlined in Robert Hooke’s 1678 book ‘Lectures de Potentia Restitutiva', or 'Of Spring Explaining the Power of Springing Bodies‘. Hooke states that the more a spring is stretched, the longer it gets, the more work has to be done, and the more energy it stores.

Springs are made of a wide range of materials – the most common of which are steel alloys - although the following materials can also be used to create springs:

Metal.jpg

[edit] What type of springs are available?

Currently, there are three main types of springs available on the market, they are:

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki

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