What Are Springs & How Do Springs Work?

Posted on December 16, 2020 by IDC Spring

How do springs work

Springs are crucial components in heavy machinery, garage doors and other applications across various industries. Springs exist in all shapes and sizes and consist of different materials. Whether you’re in the manufacturing industry or specialize in garage door installation, you rely on high-quality springs to produce a high-quality product.

Many springs are custom-made to fit specific applications. Others are mass-produced with certain functions in mind. When your garage door or original machinery calls for a specific spring, you need to know exactly what kind to use. You want to make your customers happy, and sometimes it all comes down to using the right spring.

What Is a Spring?

A spring is an elastic object that stores mechanical energy and releases it when the opposing force is removed. If you need to apply force to create movement or hold something in place without the use of engines or other powered means, springs could be the answer.

When you think of springs, you probably envision classic coil springs made of metal in a cylindrical shape. You can find them fitted into a spring mechanism to apply force against or away from an object. While metal coil springs like these are instantly recognizable, they only represent a portion of the springs that exist. To understand their versatility and functions, you should know more about the history of springs.

Springs have provided the mechanical solutions for many situations and needs for hundreds of years. They have taken on many forms. In fact, the coil spring is a modern invention compared to the first types of springs. One of the first ways humans used springs was to create the bow and arrow for hunting, protection and warfare. This type of spring is markedly missing any coils.

Coil springs were first introduced with the advent of door locks. The coil spring’s ability to take on various sizes and store mechanical energy gave locks the security and movement they needed. Soon after, inventors began using springs in clocks and pocket watches. Their customizable and consistent tension was crucial in keeping accurate time.

Today, people use springs in a vast array of applications and projects. They are an irreplaceable component of many devices that people rely on daily, from the smallest toys to the largest machines. Automobiles, construction equipment and garage doors all rely on the storage and release of mechanical energy that springs offer. Springs are important, but how exactly do they work?

What is a spring

How Springs Work

Think back on the earliest example of a spring: the bow and arrow. An archer notches the arrow in the bow’s string and pulls back, applying backward tension. This stores mechanical energy in the bow, as the bow wants to return to its original state. When the archer releases the arrow, the string rapidly returns to its original position, sending the arrow flying forward. This is the release of the mechanical energy that the archer applied when pulling back.

If an archer pulls back on the bow with great force, the arrow will likewise shoot with great force. If the archer pulls back weakly, the arrow will shoot without much force and will fall to the ground. This relationship between applied force and mechanical energy is present in all springs throughout history. The energy that a spring releases is directly proportional to the amount of energy that someone applies to it. This is the defining characteristic of springs, and it’s also what makes them so useful.

The spring’s material also plays a role in the relationship between stored and released mechanical energy. If the aforementioned bow consists of flexible wood and a loose string, it will be easy for the archer to pull back. The archer will exert little force on the bow, resulting in the release of little force when he or she lets go.

People can make different bows for different purposes. A child might not be able to pull back on an adult’s bow because of the amount of initial mechanical energy it requires. The same child might flourish with a training bow that requires much less energy to draw.

The same principle applies to all springs. Coil springs come in various materials and strengths for different purposes. The spring that holds a battery in place within a remote is weaker than garage door springs that hold a heavy door in place. Both are coil springs. Both serve different functions.

Types of Springs

There are three main types of coil springs: compression, torsion and extension. Each serves a different purpose and comes in handy in specific situations.

How Do Compression Springs Work?

Coil springs that store mechanical energy through compression and release it outward are mechanical compression springs. These springs hold weight and shrink in size upon receiving that force. Remove the force and the spring will expand again, releasing its stored mechanical energy.

Compression springs are able to do this because of their pitch. A spring’s pitch is the distance between coils. When compressed, the spring’s pitch gets smaller, storing mechanical energy until it can expand to its original size once more.

How Do Torsion Springs Work?

Unlike compression springs which shrink when storing energy, torsion springs twist to transfer mechanical energy. Consider a door handle. When you apply force and twist the handle, there is a slight resistance against you as you turn. This stores mechanical energy in the torsion spring within the handle. Once you let go of the handle, it snaps back into its initial position according to the specifications of the torsion spring.

Torsion springs are common components of garage doors. Garage door torsion springs are essential in the door’s counterbalance system. They provide the resistance needed to keep the door opened or closed when you want it to be, while also making it easier to move when you apply the necessary force.

How Do Extension Springs Work?

Mechanical extension springs are tightly wound coil springs with no pitch between coils. Extension springs extend as you apply force to them, pulling apart the coils. Their resistance against this force stores mechanical energy within the coil. When you remove the force, the spring releases its mechanical energy by snapping back into its original state with no pitch between coils.

Extension springs are an excellent choice when you need to move an object back to its original position after applying force to the spring. That is why garage door extension springs are a common component of garage door opening systems. They apply tension to the garage door and help it move within the pulley system.

Get the springs you need from IDCSpring

Get the Springs You Need From IDC Spring

Springs are an important part of the manufacturing and garage door industries. As you look for a company to produce the springs you need for your products, look no further than IDC Spring. With our own manufacturing plants in Minnesota, Ohio and Arizona, we can meet your need anywhere in the United States. We know that making your clients and customers happy is your end goal, and we want to help you achieve that with high-quality springs that will get the job done.

Whether you need custom mechanical springs or you want the right garage door springs, IDC Spring is here to help. We are your comprehensive solution to all your spring needs, no matter your task or location. When it comes to the quality of your final product, don’t leave it up to chance with a low-quality spring. At IDC Spring, we have a tradition of quality and offer the customer service you deserve. Call us today at 800-899-7945 or request a quote to get the quality springs you need.