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What are Compression Springs & How Do They Work?

Compression springs are the most versatile and common type of springs. Whether large or small, we have all used something at some point that required a compression spring. Even though compression springs seem similar to other types of springs at first glance, they do have distinct differences.

In addition to being specifically engineered for applying resistance, compression springs can also be custom designed for use in a particular environment. And even though they are often fitted within holes or attached to guides— compression springs can work independently.

How Compression Springs Work

When pressed, compression springs store potential energy and release that energy upon expansion. Material properties, coil number, and wire diameter determine how much energy can be stored in a compression spring.

Generally, compression springs are made of metal due to their stiffness. However, they differ in their design—with many different styles of pitch, coil configuration, and diameter.

Spring ends usually come in four types, which affect spring height, active coils, and mounting capabilities. A closed-end spring has a reduced pitch at the end, while an open-end spring has a consistent coil pitch. Unlike ground springs with reduced pitch, open springs have flat last coils for even load distribution.

Types of Compression Springs

Because different kinds of compression springs are required for different types of equipment—compression springs come in a variety of shapes and designs.

There are generally two types of compression springs:

  1. Helical Compression Springs
  2. Non-Helical Compression Springs


Helical Compression Springs

Helical compression springs are springs made of spiral-wound wire, with each coil touching the next. They further have different types:

  • Straight Helical compression springs have the same diameter inside and outside throughout their length.
  • Mini compression springs resemble straight, helical springs but have smaller sizes. Their typical free heights range from 1.27 to 26 mm.
  • Hourglass compression springs have a diameter that tapers towards the center of the spring length. The springs’ ends have matching diameters.
  • Barrel compression springs are thickest in the middle of their diameter. In both ends, the diameter gradually decreases.
  • Reduced-end compression springs are the same diameter throughout the middle and taper to a point near the end of the spring.
  • Die springs feature rectangular wires and are a sturdy type of compression spring. Compared to a spring that deflects the same amount, die springs carry 30% more load. They are designed to withstand very high compression loads in extreme conditions.


Non-Helical Compression Springs

Non-Helical Compression Springs, also called wave springs, are wavy metal washers that provide a spring force to a spring under load or to absorb shock from an impact.

Depending on the material of the springs, they may have flattened, kinked coils that provide an additional spring effect. Wave springs only take up 30-50% of the compressed height of a similarly sized helical spring when stacked upon each other.

Compression Springs Applications

In everyday life, compression springs are used in different shapes and forms and can be found in almost every household item that has some sort of opening and closing function.

Also, several industries use compression springs, ranging from automobile engines to large stamping presses to large appliances, lawnmowers, medical devices, cell phones, electronics, delicate instruments, etc.

Depending on the application, compression springs can be used at temperatures up to 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit. A stainless steel compression spring with a high degree of flexibility is ideal for most standard applications.

Get Compression Springs from Arrow Manufacturing

At Arrow Manufacturing, we design and manufacture custom springs in small and large quantities. Throughout the country, our compression springs are used in a wide range of products and applications. To find a superior product designed especially to meet the specific specifications of your application—contact our team today. We can create the most precise springs for any application. In the event you are not sure which type of custom spring is right for you, our team can assist you.