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Extension vs. Compression Springs: What’s the Difference?

When external forces are applied to springs, they undergo significant amounts of elastic deformation. A spring absorbs mechanical energy when it is deformed and subsequently releases it in a controlled manner once it has regained its original shape. In mechanical systems or structural elements, it introduces some degree of flexibility whenever desired. And there are a variety of ways to use and fit springs to achieve a variety of functionalities.

There are different types of springs―each designed for a specific purpose. However, compression and extension are the most common types.

What is Extension Springs?

Extension springs or tension springs are designed to create tension under a load. On both ends, they usually have hooks or loops. It is necessary to attach the ends of an extension spring to two components to use it. Extension springs force components back together if they attempt to separate.

As their name suggests, extension springs are capable of extending. The extension spring will lengthen when it is connected to two moving components. Spring extensions come in various materials and sizes, but they all work by extending when the force is applied. Extending the two objects creates tension between them, causing them to come together again.

What are Compression Springs?

Compression springs are springs that tighten when force is applied. They are made of coiled metal pieces, much like extension springs. Compression springs, however, have a broader coil than extension springs. For compression springs to work, there must be sufficient space between adjacent coils. Since extension springs aren’t intended to be compressed any further, a gap between adjacent coils isn’t necessary.

A compression spring is used when two components are trying to push against each other. The working principle of compression springs differs from that of extension springs. Once loaded, an extension spring becomes more extended, while a compression spring becomes shorter.

What’s the Difference Between Extension Springs and Compression Springs?

Despite their common use in everyday life, both of these springs are actually different types. Here’s a quick overview of the difference between those two:

  • A force applied in the opposite direction causes an extension spring to contract or extend. Compression springs, in contrast, exert force in one direction.
  • Compression springs support weights, while extension springs hold things in place.
  • Compression springs are also called torsion springs, while extension springs are called helical springs.
  • The compression springs are used in camshafts, car suspensions, and car seats, while extension springs are used for garage doors, drawers, and windows.

What Is More Durable: An Extension Spring or a Compression Spring?

People often ask this question about extension springs and compression springs. However, it’s hard to say which one is more durable. The best one will be determined by what you need.

Extension springs are generally more suitable for lifting heavy loads. It works well for garage doors and drawers. In contrast, the compression spring is more suitable for applications that require resistance to twisting or torsion. They are used in suspension systems and car seats, among other things. While we’ve discussed the suitability of each spring type, extension springs are generally longer-lasting than compression springs. Since compression springs are under constant load, they tend to fail sooner than other types of springs.

While now that you know which spring is more durable, you will be able to make the right choice for your project. Contact us, Arrow Manufacturing, the suppliers of compression and extension springs, to discuss the best alloy for your spring.