Springs General

General Notes on Springs

More details on Spring design are to be found in the links below the table.


Springs are mechanical components designed to store mechanical energy, working on the principle of flexible deformation of material.   Springs belong to the most loaded machine components.  Applications for springs include:

  • Storing energy as in clock and watch springs
  • Energy absorbers for drives and reciprocating devices
  • Applying set forces as used in relief valves
  • Maintaining the position of a linked mechanical item such as a brake panel or door
  • Shock absorbers in anti-vibration protection
  • Indicating /controlling a load in a scale or instrument.
  • Lifting devices-Used to reduce effort in manual hoists

Spring Rate

An important initial factor in spring design is the Spring Rate

When considering linear motion the spring rate is the load divided by the elastic deflection.

k = P / δ

P = Force (N)
δ = deflection (mm or m)
When considering angular (rotary) motion the spring rate is the Torque divided by the elastic angular deflection.

ka = T / θ

T = Torque (Nm)
θ = Angular displacement (Radians)

Spring Class

Metal springs are generally fall into one of three classes of duty;

  1. High Duty..Springs subject to rapidly reciprocating loads e.g. engine valve springs
  2. General Duty..Springs that work infrequently for limited periods
  3. Static Load Springs..Springs that are used to apply a fixed load throughout their life

Spring Energy Storage

Based on the deformation pattern, springs can be divided into the following three types:

  1. springs with linear characteristics
  2. springs with degressive characteristics
  3. springs with progressive characteristics

The W area under the spring characteristic curve represents the deformation work (energy) of a spring performed by the spring during its loading.   Deformation energy of springs subjected to compression, tension or bending is specified by the formula:

For springs subjected to torsion the deformation energy is:

Spring State

At any point in a springs operating life it can be in one of a number of states

  • Free- The spring is unloaded
  • Preloaded - The spring is loaded as and initial operating state
  • Loaded - The spring is loaded to under some operating condition
  • Fully Loaded - The spring is subject to the maximum design operational loading
  • Limiting Loaded - The spring is exposed to the limit load as defined by the strength or design condition

A limiting load as defined by strength may be considered as at the limit of elasticity or at yield.
A limiting load as defined by design limitations is exampled by a compression spring with all coils in contact.

Links to Spring Design
  1. Mitcalc ...A excel based software package -very convenient to use