STEM teacher conducting engineering lesson at college

To commemorate National Apprenticeship Week, we wanted to give some inspiration for those lucky enough to teach STEM subjects such as engineering. Teaching is a fascinating and rewarding career, but despite this, it can be challenging at times, especially when it comes to finding fresh new ideas to inspire the younger generations.  

Engaging students in engineering is crucial, as it gives them a better understanding of the science and how it’s beneficial for society. Nurturing and developing students’ interest in engineering should begin in classrooms at an early age. Additionally, it’s vital to make it clear to students that university isn’t the only path and that, as young people, they should keep their options open.  

That is why we’re looking into some engineering activities you can use in your classroom to help with lessons and hopefully spark some inspiration in your students to encourage them to continue with their engineering studies and participate in an apprenticeship. We’ll explore various activities that you can do with students of all ages – let’s take a look. 


Team Building Activities 

Group activities have the advantage of teaching students how to work together and use their strengths for the benefit of the team. It also allows them to develop interpersonal skills and self-confidence. For instance, you could have a paper plane contest. Students can create a design of their own or choose an existing one that they think is the fastest; they can then test this, and the plane that flies the furthest wins. Exercises like these help students develop their critical and spatial skills. It’s also an excellent activity for all ages. Primary school-age children will enjoy the excitement of testing their planes and watching them fly, whereas A-Level or high school-age young adults may see it as more of a competition and want to create the most successful design. 


School pupil completing engineering activity


Another group activity that often proves successful is an escape room. This trend started with computer and phone games but has evolved into physical spaces. The idea is to place students in a closed room, and they have to solve clues and puzzles to get out. You can even divide students into teams, and the group that escapes the room with the fastest time is the winner. Not only is this a fun activity, but it allows students to think rationally, make decisions on the spot, grow their analytical skills, and become more confident in expressing their opinions. So get creative and design the escape room yourself in the classroom, or take it as an exciting opportunity to get out and go on a trip. 



Engineering can be a very practical science, so it only stands to reason that students should experience it that way. Conducting experiments in class will undoubtedly draw the students’ attention, as it’s something more visual and different from anything else they’re used to. In addition, when students see for themselves how engineering can be applied in the real world, they will be more interested in learning its ins and outs. 

This is because even though engineering and maths, for instance, are objective and exact sciences, for many, they can be too ‘abstract’. This means that students might find it difficult to see the practicality of what they learn in class. Doing experiments can change that perspective and interest students in engineering. For example, building a functional pinwheel can help students better understand wheel-and-axle mechanisms, and constructing a set of gears will allow them to develop spatial and mathematical skills. 

The options are limitless! Teaching engineering in the classroom requires creativity so that you can engage students in this and other STEM sciences from an early age. 


Apprentices at european springs 

Make Your Activities Appropriate for All Learning Types 

The above activities are very hands-on and perfect for those who learn best through practical tasks; however, it’s important to remember that not everyone learns best this way and that engineering isn’t always practical. In addition, the industry is so large and needs many different types of people to function as a whole. Consequently, you must include all kinds of learners in your teaching. For example, consider maths-based activities such as data collections as well as visual learning activities such as engaging videos and TV shows. 

Try and cover as many learning types as you can in one session – you never know who you’re going to spark some inspiration in. 


Ensuring Everyone is Included 

Being inclusive is vital and something that we here at European Springs actively encourage.      Engineering is a heavily male-dominated field, with women making up just 14.5% of engineers in the UK as of a report made in June 2021. 

The key to levelling out these numbers is inspiring younger generations of women, which starts in the classroom. Just one activity completed in a classroom in primary school could spark an interest in a young girl that stays with her all the way through to choosing her career path as an engineer. 


Engineering Apprenticeships at European Springs 

At European Springs, we’re proud of our work to inspire and encourage younger generations to get involved in the engineering industry. We take on apprentices each year and work closely with them to develop their skills in an area that interests them. We do this by following a structure of hands-on learning techniques, including: 

  • Shadowing  
  • Supervised work 
  • Studying 
  • Assessment

If you’re someone considering an engineering apprenticeship, take some inspiration in National Apprenticeship Week and get in touch with the team at European Springs to start your journey. 

Additionally, if you’re a teacher, we hope that this article has been helpful, and you now have some fresh ideas for getting your students engaged and interested in this fascinating industry. 

As experienced spring manufacturers, not only do we provide unmatched knowledge and advice backed up by our years of experience, but we can help you out by providing quality bespoke pressings, custom springs, and other metal components. Please feel free to contact us to find out more about our products and services – a member of our team will be more than happy to help. 

Compressions springs are among the most versatile springs we manufacture here at European Springs and Pressings Ltd. Large or small, at some point, everyone has used something that needs a compression spring without realising it. Read on to discover how we use compression springs in our daily lives.


Multiple compression springs


What is a Compression Spring?

A compression spring is essentially a helical spring with an open coil; it’s your classic spring. They can come in various body sizes, diameters and pitches depending on what they will be used for. In general, the purpose of a compression spring is to absorb potential energy as it is compressed and released after, essentially to compress and expand when needed.


Different Types of Compression Spring

As one of Europe’s leading spring manufacturers, we can supply a catalogue of different compression springs, each with its purpose. With this classic spring being applied in so many different ways, there is a growing selection of choices when looking for yours.

The unique helix shape is why this spring has become a classic choice. The flexibility of the helix shape gives manufacturers an option to mould them in almost any desired shape.

  • Cylindrical
  • Conical
  • Tapered
  • Hourglass
  • Convex or concave
  • Barrel-shaped
  • Magazine

They can be made with a constant or variable pitch to suit any design specifications.


Compression spring in motion


We offer various materials for making our compression springs—other materials from stainless steel right through to non-ferrous metals.

  • Phosphor Bronze
  • Beryllium Copper
  • Inconel
  • Hastelloy
  • Nimonic
  • And many more.

Here at European Springs & Pressings Ltd, we understand how important it is that you can choose your spring from a variety of the highest quality materials. Our top priority is that your spring is exactly what you need for whatever design you have.


Industrial Uses For Compression Springs

With our experience as compression spring manufacturers, we’ve seen them used in many applications across various industries.

  • Automobile manufacturing
  • Pulp and paper industry
  • Railways

An industrial example of where compression springs are needed is in oil rigs. These springs are vital in manipulating the pressure and keeping it at optimal levels, and this is a crucial part of operating any offshore oil rig.

Medical devices may seem so complicated they wouldn’t need the humble compression spring, but this is not true from micro springs like those found in inhalers or syringes to larger ones inside diagnostic equipment and, finally, the ones in the ambulances themselves. Additionally, you could discover springs in various medical tools such as catheters, valves, peristaltic pumps and the standard wheelchair.

Aeronautics rely on compression springs. Most air travel would be impossible without these classic compression springs. You could discover them in almost every part of a modern aircraft, from the turbines, guidance systems, engine controls, not to mention the actual engines themselves.


compression spring in a pen


Compression springs are an integral part of making firearms as well. The recoil from firing a gun is cushioned, and the energy is lessened by applying a compression spring. Without it, the recoil would make the weapon much harder to use and potentially damage it.


Where Have You Been Using Compression Springs?

You can find compression springs in many parts of our daily lives and not even notice. For example, the mattress on your bed will contain a lot of compression springs to help you get comfortable. Your wristwatch will have some small compression springs in them to help keep everything functioning, and even your smartphone phone can contain similar micro compression springs.

Have you ever disassembled your ballpoint pen when bored? That spring that is inside is a small compression spring. If you try and use the pen without the spring, you’ll immediately realise how important they are for even something as simple as a pen. It’s the spring that brings the pen in and out when you click it. It removes the need for a cap on the pen to keep it from drying out; retracting the pen inside the housing is enough.

An excellent example of a compression spring you will have encountered is a car’s suspension system. Combined with the shock absorbers and linkages, the spring can absorb the bouncing and deliver a smoother driving experience.

Compression springs are needed for electrical switches too. Again, it may seem trivial for something so simple as keeping the switch in either on or off, but we guarantee you’d miss it if the spring weren’t there to keep the light on.


A True Classic For Any Design

Our experienced team is here to help you with your compression spring design. Stocking a range of materials from simple steel to superalloys and non-ferrous metals, we can help you make the right decision. In addition, all of our compression springs are quality assured and comply with ISO:9001 standards.

To discuss our high-quality springs at competitive rates, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.

Springs can be made from lots of different materials, and not all are made from metal. The end-use for the spring will inevitably decide its form and the materials it is made from. Learn the difference between a titanium spring and a copper alloy spring here.

Steel Springs

Steel is one of our favoured materials for creating springs. Steel is iron alloyed with elements like carbon, to create a strong yet pliable spring. Of course, steel isn’t a one-size-fits-all for springs; the purpose of the spring will dictate the percentage of the alloy, as well as how it is treated.

We can produce steel springs for a range of purposes. Here are just a few of the steel types we create springs from:

  • Cold drawn low-alloy steel
  • Hardenable spring steel
  • Stainless spring steel
  • Stainless spring steel with anti-corrosion
  • Stainless spring steel for high temperatures
  • Stainless spring steel, non-magnetic
  • Combination steel; non-magnetic, anti-corrosion, acid-resistant

Each of these steel types must be carefully chosen, created and modelled into the spring of your choice, and each subtle adjustment to the make-up of the material must change how we approach the spring-making process, too.

We have been spring manufacturers for many decades, however, and are well experienced with the intricacies of spring formation. We also understand that every spring matters, and when it comes to springs for motor industries or healthcare industries, a slack in quality at any point could become dangerous. As such, we pride ourselves on our deep understanding of spring engineering and its value to society. We concentrate on providing springs of a consistent quality for our customers.

Cold drawn low-alloy steels have the benefit of improved tensile strength, and often has a brilliant finished quality that makes it aesthetically pleasing. This could be important if your springs are going to be on show. The low-alloy nature of our cold drawn steels is created by adding in elements such as nickel, chromium, and molybdenum, and depending on the percentages used can grant your average steel spring with greater creep strength.

Our range of stainless steel springs are created from steel with a high percentage of chromium. Regular steel has 10%, but stainless steel uses 17% and some nickel. Stainless steel is best used in applications where yield strength is an important factor, but stainless steel also has high anti-corrosion properties. These properties can be strengthened through subtle tweaks made to the alloy percentages and the finishing of the metal spring.

Stainless steel is almost always cold worked, which can result in magnetism in the spring. This can be an issue in some devices, so it is important to specify or talk to us about whether you will need us to undertake extra work to achieve non-magnetic springs.

More Information About Additional Alloyants

Chromium is a popular alloyant that is used to improve strength, ductility, toughness, and hardness and is present in most types of steel as a result. Other incredibly popular alloyants that are used in carbon steel, which is sometimes referred to as spring steel, includes molybdenum, silicon, nickel, and copper.

We take these for granted, but each of these elements provides their own unique traits. For example, copper is one of the best electrical and heat conductors available on the planet, and silicon is incredibly effective at absorbing shock loads. European Springs also holds the largest stock of silicon chrome wire in the UK, so we’re able to create a wide range of products for a variety of industries and applications.

We understand how the make-up of your springs’ materials will benefit your end project:

Copper Springs

Copper is known for being a fairly soft and ductile metal, which means that it isn’t nearly so suitable as stainless steel is for bearing heavy loads. On the other hand, when the spring also needs to carry an electrical charge, beryllium copper springs might be able to provide the impact strength and anti-corrosion properties that are just right for the product you have in mind.

Primarily used in electrical applications, copper springs can be vital to your final product.

Titanium Springs

In healthcare, the hypoallergenic properties of the metal used might be of the greatest importance. In this case, titanium springs can prove to be the most effective for the end purpose. In contrast to some metals, titanium can be considered a little brittle for everyday use, and it can also be difficult to mould into the desired shape if wielded by an inexperienced company.

When calculated against the pressures it needs to withstand, however, we can figure out how best to solve your problems through the design of our springs.

At European Springs, we test every single type of spring that we manufacture to ensure its strength and durability are up to the mark and can withstand any type of stress and strain.

If you would like to know more about the processes that we use within our spring manufacturing procedures or any of the springs we make including compression springs, tension springs and torsion springs, then you can contact us today on +44 208 663 1800 and one of our incredibly friendly members of staff will be more than happy to help.

In any industry, there are great minds and pioneers who lead the way for all those who follow. It’s fair to say that the engineering sector wouldn’t be what it is today without those who made innovations which were well ahead of their time. In this article, we take a look at some of the most important figures in engineering history.


Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Brunel was famous for his innovation; although his projects were not always successful, he achieved many firsts in engineering, and many of his greatest achievements still stand to this day. Although he did not live to see its completion, Brunel is perhaps most famous for the Clifton Suspension Bridge, which had the longest span of any bridge in the world at the time of its construction. Alongside work on bridges, he was also the chief engineer of the Great Western Railway and he built the SS Great Britain, the world’s first ocean going, propeller-driven iron ship.

James Watt

This Scottish inventor and mechanical engineer was pivotal in the Industrial Revolution. Although he did not design the first steam engine (or even the first practical one), his improvements transformed it into a much more powerful machine by adding a separate condenser to make use of energy that was otherwise wasted. By 1790, the steam engine was used in cars, railways, ships and factories on an unprecedented scale, transforming the face of the world.

Ada Lovelace

Flying in the face of engineering and mathematics being perceived as solely masculine activities, Ada Lovelace was instrumental in the development of modern computing. Her notes on the Analytical Engine developed by Charles Babbage include what is thought to be the first algorithm intended to be carried out by a machine, effectively making her the world’s first computer programmer.

Alan Turing

Alan Turing was highly influential in the development of theoretical computer science, where he provided a formalisation of concepts of algorithms and computation with the invention of the Turing machine. This feat of engineering was considered to be a model of a general purpose computer. Due to this invention, Turing is generally considered the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence.

During the Second World War, Turing was part of the Government Code and Cypher School, a codebreaking centre based at Bletchley Park. He devised a number of techniques for breaking German ciphers and played a pivotal role in cracking intercepted coded messages, which enabled the Allies to defeat the Nazis in several battles, the most notable of which was the Battle of the Atlantic.

Thomas Haug

Where would we be without being able to send a text message? In today’s world, it seems almost impossible to function correctly without using your mobile phone to send a message on a daily basis. We have Norwegian engineer Thomas Haug to thank for introducing text messaging in 1992.

Haug led a team of experts from a dozen countries at CEPT (the association of European Telecommunication Operators) in 1982 after he was elected chairman of the committee. In this role, he was in charge of the digitalisation of telecommunications and introduced features such as SIM cards and SMS messaging during his 10-year tenure.

Earlier in his life, Haug was part of the Swedish Board of Telecommunications, where he was engaged in the development of computer-controlled exchanges. He led a project for cellular communication called NMT in 1970; this venture led to the introduction of an analogue system in Saudi Arabia in 1980, followed by four Nordic countries between 1981 and 1982. The NMT enabled automatic roaming between any two users, regardless of national borders and reached 1 million subscribers in 1990.

Elon Musk

Possibly one of the greatest minds of our time, Elon Musk has done plenty for 21st-century engineering. Musk is the CEO of a number of high-profile businesses, including Tesla, PayPal and SpaceX.

At SpaceX, Musk conceptualised a ‘Mars Oasis’ when founding the company back in 2001, a project that looked to land a miniature experimental greenhouse on Mars containing food crops in a bid to show that human life could be possible on the planet. Since then, the company has made history on a number of occasions, the most notable feat being their ‘Dragon’ spacecraft which became the first commercial spacecraft to deliver cargo to and from the International Space Station.

At Tesla, Musk has successfully brought fully-electric vehicles to the market at affordable prices. Tesla also supply several major car manufacturers, such as Mercedes and Toyota, with affordable electric powertrain systems. In 2014, Musk even announced that Tesla would allow its technology patents to be used by anyone in good faith, as a way of encouraging more automobile manufacturers to develop affordable electric cars.

Of course, these are just some of the most well-known names of history; even today there are many heroes of engineering simply going about their day-to-day jobs. Some will be recognised in their lifetime – the upcoming New Year’s Honours list is likely to recognise a few individuals for their services to engineering – but others may not. We would like to take this opportunity to recognise every engineer for their hard work at developing the world of the future.

As spring manufacturers, we believe that all the innovations mentioned in this article have had a profound effect on the engineering industry and even general everyday life. Here at European Springs, we are keen to continue to build on these fantastic innovations and provide our customers with the very best products and services possible.


Springs can be found in a multitude of technologies we use in our every day lives. Although the vehicles we depend on for our day-to-day transportation needs would not be possible without motor spring technology, the use of springs in the automotive manufacture has changed significantly over the years.

Here, we take a deeper look into the types of springs that have been used in car manufacture throughout the years, and the differences between these.

Leaf Springs

The use of leaf springs in automobiles had been common practice for many years; they were most commonly used in suspension to ensure a smoother ride for vehicles carrying heavier loads. Whilst you will still find this type of spring in some older vehicles (especially in lorries or vans), they have made way for updated materials and components that are more durable and efficient.

The first use of leaf springs in vehicles goes back as far as the early 19th century, with the first spring-suspension vehicle designed and patented by British inventor Obadiah Elliot. The vehicle consisted of two steel leaf springs on each side of a carriage on both axles to ensure a smoother, more stable ride for carriages carrying heavy loads.

The effect of adding the leaf springs to carriages was so profound that within the next decade most British horse carriages were equipped with them. Although most carriages utilised leaf springs in the form of those invented by Elliot, wooden versions of the springs were also used to cut costs and avoid taxation for carriages carrying lighter loads.

Car Suspension

Whilst the use of leaf springs is slowly being phased out by vehicle manufacturers now, these springs have played a vital role in the development of vehicles over the past two century’s. Without the use of leaf springs within automotive design, the smooth ride we experience in our cars today would not have been possible.

In their latest iteration, leaf springs work with the topmost and longest strip of steel, known as the ‘master leaf.’ Being curled at each end to resemble something like an eye, this is then connected to the frame of the suspension. Each leaf spring below the ‘master leaf’ are progressively shorter and less curved to allow the spring to absorb the shock from travelling over a bump or pothole in the road.

Coil Springs

More commonly used in vehicle suspension today, coil springs (also known as helical springs), help to support the weight of the car and allow the vehicle to remain stable, even in extremely rough driving conditions. This type of spring is ideally suited for vehicle suspension, as it can store energy and release it later when needed. It also absorbs shock and maintains force between two contacting surfaces.

Spring in Suspension

When your vehicle goes over a pothole or bump in the road, the coil spring will compress and absorb the impact of the bump. Once the road becomes even again, the spring releases the energy stored and returns to its original state. Due to the shock-absorbing purpose this spring brings, they are built to last and are often coated with a vinyl coating to ensure they are resistant to corrosion.

Coilover Springs

Finally, the most advanced type of spring used in the suspension of vehicles are coilover springs. These springs are only used in the most advanced new vehicles on the market and offer the user of the vehicle the smoothest journey available today.

You’ll find coilover springs at the front and back of a car, offering a consistently smooth ride throughout the vehicle. They also provide exceptionally good performance, which is why you’ll find this type of spring used in all manner of performance and racing cars.

Suspension of Car

Audi’s Innovative Suspension Springs

With the goal of refining the sphere of lightweight automobiles, Audi released a new type of suspension spring back in 2014.

These springs are unusual in a variety of subtle ways:

  • The Audi suspension springs were manufactured from glass fibre-reinforced polymer (GRP) in a light green colouration.
  • The strand of these springs is thicker than the norm and has a larger diameter at the expense of more coils.
  • The GRP springs are approximately 40% lighter than the springs previously used by Audi, allowing springs of a similar performance to be made according to incredibly lightweight specifications.

The result of utilising these springs has led to more precise driving experience with reduced vibration. The springs also won’t corrode, suffer chemical damage and require less energy to be produced than the more commonly produced suspension springs.


As spring manufacturers, we know the importance of ensuring that all springs we produce are fit for purpose. All of our springs are extremely durable and are made with the care and precision needed to guarantee that we only produce springs of the highest quality.

Despite the big-name, high-profile infrastructure projects – Hinkley Point C nuclear power station and High Speed 2 rail link to name just two – and the news that the engineering sector generates around a quarter of the nation’s GDP, equating to approximately £420.5 billion, the issue of a skills shortage facing the industry does not appear to be going away any time soon.


Some years ago – five to be precise – we wrote an article about the gap in the labour market, yet since then not much seems to have changed in terms of either the numbers of engineers coming through the system or those still needed to meet future demand.


That almost three-quarters of businesses stated they were not confident there would be enough people with the skills to fill their high-skilled job vacancies should come as no surprise. The evidence gathered by Engineering UK in their 2018 publication, The State of Engineering, highlights that the vacancy ratio has remained at 2.6 vacancies for every 100 jobs filled.


In order for the UK to remain competitive and equipped to deal with the pace of technological and socio-economic change, this is an issue that needs to be urgently addressed, particularly if we want to see the kinds of infrastructure investment and progression that a modern-day economy needs. Just to deliver the proposed upgrades to the rail network, for example, a further 7,200 technical and engineering workers will be required by 2020.


As spring manufacturers, we continually keep a close eye on issues affecting the wider engineering sector. Here, we detail some of the key things that need to be addressed in the coming years.

Engineering for the Future

It is clear that to continue as we are and hope that the ingenuity of engineering will solve its own problems is not only unrealistic but also unlikely. The fact that we wrote on this subject half a decade ago and are in the same position today underlines this point.


The continued lack of certainty around a post-Brexit Britain doesn’t help matters; however, it is not sufficient to use that as a reason for not taking any action at all. Intervention is needed, and there are a number of steps that can be and, indeed, are being taken.


Surely a quick win would be for engineering as a discipline to tap into non-traditional sectors of the labour market and diversify its workforce. In 2016, women accounted for 46.9% of the overall working population in the UK, yet they represent less than a fifth of the engineering industry in general, and even less (12%) of the core and related-engineering roles.

Engineer at work

Diversity Still an Issue in Engineering

When the figures are examined, it shows that the number of women entering the field decreases at various stages; at secondary school level, the number of boys taking STEM subjects is almost twice that of girls, whilst even fewer women are making it through technical education. In England between 2015 and 2016, only 7.5% of engineering-related apprenticeships were completed by women.


This lack of diversity is not just restricted to gender: an even lower proportion of apprenticeships – 6.8% – in the field of engineering were completed by candidates of black or mixed ethnicity, despite this demographic making up 12% of the UK workforce. Work, therefore, needs to be done to understand what barriers are preventing significant diversity in the field of engineering.


The demand for skilled engineering labour has had a positive influence on remuneration; Engineering UK found that whilst the average salary in the UK in 2016 was £28,195, the median salaries of full-time employees working in engineering in 2016 range between £32,987 and £47,394. So from that perspective, it shouldn’t be that difficult to persuade those already of working age but not engaged in the labour market to make a transition into engineering, with the right support.

Young People and Engineering

Steps are being taken to increase the number of young people entering the educational pipeline towards engineering. The Technical and Further Education Act from 2017 aims to address this specific issue by looking at the perceived low value of many apprenticeship schemes, reducing or removing some of the complexities within the system itself and also compelling schools to improve the access for their students to Higher Education providers.


There is ongoing monitoring of the government-proposed framework for fifteen technical education routes for both employment-based and college-based training, an element of which includes the introduction of T-Levels. Delivered as part of the Post-16 Skills Plan, these proposed reforms will also include the creation of new apprenticeship standards and degree apprenticeships, the latter to assuage employers’ concerns that degree-led education does not place sufficient emphasis on practical or problem-solving skills.


Additional measures are also being taken to encourage young people to consider a career in engineering; the diversity of the profession, the comparatively higher average salaries, along with emerging new technologies and practices are all positive drivers.


Until the UK has fully agreed withdrawal terms from the EU, there will be continued uncertainty; however, it is becoming clearer by the day that engineering will not be able to rely on migrant labour to apply a temporary fix to the skills shortage. Therefore, a coherent and decisive plan must be put into place to ensure that an industry, which contributed £1.23 trillion of the £5.3 trillion total turnover generated by the UK in the financial year 2015-2016, not only survives but evolves.


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