Close-up image of a compression spring

Here at European Springs, we have over seven decades of experience designing, manufacturing, and implementing our springs in various sectors. As a result, we produce an impressive stock catalogue of springs and are familiar with every type, including the unlimited scope of custom and bespoke springs. This enables us to work closely with all industries, providing our expertise and high-quality products to the masses.

However, this world may seem complicated and somewhat daunting for those not in the spring manufacturing industry. So to shed some light on the importance of the sector, we’re exploring everything you need to know about springs in physics. We’re taking it back to basics by exploring the definition of a spring, the history of its design, the importance of spring durability, and so much more. Read on to learn about the fascinating past of springs and how we at European Springs use this knowledge to assist us in manufacturing high-quality, durable products for a wide range of industries.

What Are Springs?

Before we delve into the physics behind spring design, let’s take a look into what a spring actually is. There are many different wordings of the definition of a spring. Essentially, a spring is a flexible object that can store and exert force and mechanical energy simultaneously when subjected to force. While doing so, it deforms in shape before returning to its original form when the force has been removed.

Springs come in an extensive range of forms, including:

Compression spring machines

Each of these spring types provides the user with a list of benefits and capabilities suited to a different use. As a result, the use of springs is almost endless. They can be found in practically every industry, from farming and agricultural machinery to the medical sector and everything in between.

How Were Springs Invented?

Springs have been in use throughout human history, with some of the first recorded examples in use within the bow and arrow. From there, developments occurred globally, with the spring going from strength to strength and incorporating itself into a range of objects, such as tweezers.

It wasn’t until the late 15th century that the first coiled spring was documented. This documentation of use included springs in door locks and spring-powered clocks. The latter led to the implementation of springs within watch design, a manufacturing practice still in use today.

However, it was Robert Hooke who propelled the use of springs in 1676 with Hooke’s Law.

All About Hooke’s Law

In 1676, English scientist, mathematician and architect Robert Hooke made a discovery that would forever change springs in physics. In simple terms, his idea was that the more a spring is deformed, the more force is needed to further deform it. He noticed this when looking into the stress vs strain curve and how for many materials, they have a linear region.

When stretching a metal spring, the force required to deform it is directly proportional to the spring’s extension. In algebraic terms, this is written:

F = -kX

F is force, k is spring constant, and x is the deformation or extension length.

Of course, like with every rule, there are exceptions. For example, if a spring is stretched too far, it will not conform to Hooke’s Law, and when this happens, the measurements are taken, and this length is considered the elastic limit.

Hooke's law diagram

The Spring Constant

To further understand the importance of Hooke’s Law, let’s dive into the k within the formula, otherwise known as the spring constant.

This part of the equation refers to the exact force needed to deform a spring. For example, if you want a stronger spring, the spring constant must be high; the lower it is, the weaker the spring.

Various factors come into determining the spring factors, such as:

  • The diameter of the wire and the coil
  • The material used to manufacture the spring
  • The length of the spring when relaxed
  • The number of coils

Once you have determined this, you can work out what needs to be done to achieve your ideal spring constant for the usage of your spring.

Where Does Spring Physics Come Into Spring Design and Manufacture

As leading spring manufacturers, we understand that physics plays a significant part in the design and manufacturing of springs. Understanding Hooke’s Law, the spring constant, and the other physical elements of a spring allow you to customise a spring to your exact specifications, which is precisely what we do here at European Springs.

It’s essential for our designers and manufacturers to know how a spring will behave in different circumstances. For example, durability is crucial for many of our clients who need their springs to handle a significant amount of force. We know that in order to strengthen a spring, thus making it more durable, we need to increase the spring constant.

pile of springs with black background

A lot of the time, these things can’t be estimated and instead require precise numbers in order to get the desired result. Our experienced and knowledgeable engineers have been specially trained to ensure that the best results are achieved for every single spring designed and manufactured here at European Springs.

We are proud to produce an extensive range of specialised springs with this knowledge and can provide bespoke springs to your exact specifications considering the physics detailed above.

Mechanical springs are present in every area of our lives, and it is easy to take these practical components for granted. A humble spring may seem simple, but manufacturing high-quality springs involves implementing a surprising number of complicated processes.

spring manufacturing

What Is Spring Winding?

The first step, spring winding, is the generalised term used to cover the many different ways springs are physically manufactured. This name is related to the winding nature of most spring designs but with slight changes for each type.

Spring wire is fed into one of our advanced CNC (computer numerical control) machines, which will be straightened into a default, flat shape before being manipulated into the desired result.

Coiling Machines

Spring coilers will feed the wire into rollers that draw it through guides that culminate in a coiling point. The wire is coiled backward at this point to form the intended spring shape. This is used to create many custom spring designs, such as tension, torsion and compression springs.

Forming Machines

We use forming machines to create tension, torsion springs and varied wire forms. A spring-forming CNC machine will have six to eight tooling slides on the face which help it perform several bends and hoops in addition to the standard spring coil. As a result, this machine has more adaptability than a coiling machine.

Bending Machines

Computers control our CNC bending machines as they use a variety of uniquely placed rollers. These rollers will form the inserted flat wire into bespoke wire form designs. Then, rollers moving tool heads, and guides push and pull the metal into the final design. This machine is usually chosen for high-quality wire forms but can be used for bespoke spring designs.

various size compression springs

Heat Treating Springs

The second step, heat treatment, is a beneficial process that helps improve the quality of the material of the spring. The heated processes will modify the crystalline structure of the metal alloys through repeated heating and cooling. This will be conducted at different intensities and durations, with the effect on the material being:

  • Increase durability
  • Higher temperature resistance
  • Increased ductility

Spring manufacturers provide this service as part of the metal fabrication process because it has dramatically improved physical properties without altering the dimensions. Common heat treatments are hardening, annealing, quenching and tempering.

Hardening

Metal hardening is where the alloys are heated above the critical temperature for the material and then cooled again rapidly. There are various ways of quickly cooling the materials, including the quenching process. Few metals are only hardened; most will have additional treatments such as tempering or stress relieving to improve their workability and toughness.

Quenching

This cooling process has a significant effect on metals. Quenching can be done minimally with air cooling or dramatically with water or oil. The rapid cooling of quenching essentially freezes the microstructure of the metal and creates stress. This unintended side-effect can be fixed with tempering.

Tempering

The cooling process puts metal under strain, but that can be relieved with tempering. Tempering further develops the material’s properties and balances them out after the hardening and quenching process. The specifics will vary depending on the desired result and the material.

Generally, tempering involves reheating the cooled metal at a relatively low temperature. The material’s microstructure creates chemical precipitation and spheroidzation of the internal elements. Spheroidzation is particularly relevant to compression springs as it assists with rolling the coils.

Annealing

This process aims to increase ductility, specifically, making the material more malleable without fracturing. This reduced hardness is because the annealing process reduces the dislocations inside the metal’s crystalline structure.

Dislocations are defects inherent within metals. These irregularities strongly influence the properties of the metal, with an excess number increasing the metal’s corrosion susceptibility. Therefore, annealing is usually performed on materials that have been cold-worked or hardening to prevent the metal from becoming brittle.

pile of springs

Coating and Finishing

The final phase of spring manufacturing involves applying coating, plating or other finishing processes. If heat treatment is about the internal quality of the metal, then this stage addresses the external surface.

Spring manufacturers ensure their springs have the most extended longevity by applying effective coatings that prevent corrosion and improve visual aesthetics.

Shot Peening

Shot peening is where the finished springs are attacked with spherical shots. This effect applies compression stress, which can be seen as compression dimples on the surface. In addition, shot peening strengthens the material against fatigue, corrosion and cracking.

Plating

A thin layer of metal is applied to the surface of the spring during an electroplating process – a mixture of chemicals and electrical currents attach the plating to the metal. This process improves corrosion resistance as a fresh layer protects the spring below. Plating is also used to improve a spring’s aesthetics or electrical conductivity.

springs

European Springs has a long history of manufacturing the highest quality springs for companies globally. Leaving handmade manufacturing behind, we use advanced CNC machines to produce large batches of bespoke springs, usually using the many varied steps outlined above.

 

Industry 4.0, also known as the fourth industrial revolution, represents a remarkable technological shift in the way manufacturing companies operate.

The term covers a broad collection of new operational methods and systems connected to digital systems or those entirely online. This digital industrial revolution is set to change many elements of manufacturing for the better, improving productivity, control and costs sector industry wide.

Someone pointing at the words Industry 4.0

What Is a Digital Industrial Revolution

There have been many industrial revolutions, each creating permanent change in the manufacturing industry. Starting with the first industrial revolution, steam power and mechanisation were introduced. This replaced hand labour and significantly increased a manufacturer’s productivity.

The second revolution involved replacing steam power with electricity. This encouraged a more global industry that could accommodate vastly larger production lines and more cost-effective creation of components. The third revolution is one we’ve been enjoying for many years. Computerised numerical control (CNC) machinery and robotics increased the potential for automation in manufacturing.

The fourth and most recent revolution stands out from the rest because it is a digital industrial revolution. Whereas the previous ones primarily involved developing machinery or computers, this one improves those with cloud-based analytics and AI.

The Goal of Industry 4.0

The first industrial revolution evolved from a German initiative (Industrie 4.0) into a worldwide term for digital improvement across manufacturing. Comprised of many smaller parts, the term covers many changing processes depending on the company, but some aspects are universal.

Interconnected devices joined through a cyber network

Here are some of the main goals of Industry 4.0:

  • Increased automation
  • Interconnectivity between physical and digital manufacturing (Industrial IoT)
  • More closed-loop data systems
  • Increase productivity and efficiency
  • Increase in the use of smart products instead of a central control system
  • More customisation and personalisation of products

Many of these goals are focused on automation through digitising processes to make manufacturing systems more efficient and run smoothly.

What Are the Elements of Industry 4.0?

Many new components exist within Industry 4.0, which collaborate to create a robust set of manufacturing tools.

Using Cyber-Physical Systems

This is one of the goals mentioned above of Industry 4.0 and aims to combine the use of physical and digital systems. So, for example, computer systems could be set up to monitor the progress of biological processes, such as custom springs production. It could alert those that need to be altered if anything is wrong, such as the dimensions.

Smart Factory

Industry 4.0 will see the implementation of smart factories in manufacturing companies worldwide. A smart factory is an automated cyber-physical system that uses innovative technology to learn and develop as it works.

The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is another cyber-physical system that communicates with machinery and operates equipment while simultaneously allowing humans to be proactive and work. It works through a network of connected devices that exchange data with each other to improve communications and productivity in the workplace.

The internet of things visual imagery. Interconnected buildings joined by a cyber network

The Internet of Services

This process is linked to the Internet of Things. Still, instead of focusing on the communication aspect, it focuses on the cyber-physical connections and the best ways of integrating these systems seamlessly for an efficient and productive workplace.

The Benefits of Industry 4.0 for Manufacturing Companies

A new industrial revolution will always bring many benefits to manufacturing companies. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of Industry 4.0 for those in the sector:

  • Less machine downtime. As fewer physical machines are used, there will be much less downtime. When devices are out of action, processes can come to a halt, which seriously impacts productivity. As spring manufacturers ourselves, we understand the importance of the smooth runnings of machinery
  • Increased knowledge of digitisation. In this digitally evolving world, an understanding of digital practices is essential. Industry 4.0 allows manufacturers to learn on the job and practice their digital skills.
  • Better supply chain management. Industry 4.0 allows better supply chain management by improving communications between every stage of the supply process.

Are There Any Downsides to Industry 4.0?

Of course, as with any change to the manufacturing sector, there are downsides as well as overwhelming positive factors. Let’s take a look:

  • It increases cybersecurity risks. When moving onto Industry 4.0, digitisation increases, so it’s essential to ensure your cybersecurity systems are set up and prepared for the changes to protect your business.
  • Digital inequality. An increase in digitisation will require more money and time put into preparation to guarantee that the transition is smooth. Unfortunately, some companies do not have the facilities for this, creating some industry inequality.

Despite the drawbacks, here at European Springs, we are always ready to embrace change and excited about these changes to the manufacturing industry. Keep up to date with industry news by heading to our blog, and feel free to contact us, as expert bespoke spring manufacturers, for enquires or anything else you believe we could help with.

The term spring creates, for most people, the image of a classic helical compression spring, but this is not always the case. There are many designs for wire form springs, including torsion and tension, but flat spring pressing designs are also widely used in many applications.

springs and pressings

What Are Flat Springs?

The first thing to note is that flat springs do not look like conventional springs. This is the most significant difference between the flat and wire form helical springs, primarily from coiled wire; the flat springs are made as flat metal strips. Classifying these pieces as springs may seem incorrect due to how different they appear. They will often look like metal pressings with no flexibility, but this rigidity is key to creating the required energy storage needed to be classed as a spring.

Metal flat spring pressings are formed into flat strips of metal that can store and release energy when compressed, stretched or bent. Once the restraining force is removed, the stored energy is released. These small components are often installed in locations requiring control deflection in restricted spaces. This usually leads to these pressings being added to more extensive mounting assemblies.

When to choose a Flat Spring or Wire Spring

spring manufacture

Wire springs have a similar role to flat springs. They both operate with stored energy that builds when a load is presented. The advantage of choosing flat springs over coiled ones is that they can work in much tighter spaces and withstand more significant stresses without permanent damage.

Coiled wire springs are a principal component that fulfils many functions, but sometimes your application will require something more unusual, a flat spring pressing. Experienced spring suppliers such as ourselves are capable of manufacturing the highest quality wire forms and flat spring pressings to suit the specific needs of our clients.

There are many considerations when deciding on the best components for your application.

Where Would You Use Flat Springs?

flat springs

Spring suppliers will manufacture flat spring pressings for a large number of applications. This will include many specific operations, such as the minor contact points within electrical circuits or installed as clips to hold mouldings for cars.

The average person can find spring clips inside picture frames as shelf edge clips or U clips in their home. Manufacturers have created flat spring pressings for cantilever springs which are flat springs supported at one end and holding a load at the other. Additionally, Belleville washers (the coned-disc spring) are flat spring pressing that supply increased flexibility to a bearing or bolted joint.

Constant-force springs

Constant-force springs are classed as flat spring pressing. This design coils around a drum (or themselves) at a constant radius. When this spring is deflected, the stress within the spring will resist the presented loading force, similar to how an extension spring operates. However, the unique factor of a constant-force spring is that they provide a consistent torque regardless of the extension length. Therefore, these springs can be found in applications with a constant load, such as cable retractors, door closers and gym equipment.

Leaf flat springs

Leaf flat springs are also used within the automotive industry for commercial vehicles. These flat springs are added to the vehicle’s suspension system to help support the entire weight, and they can also assist with regulating the wheelbase lengths when changing speed. As experienced flat leaf spring manufacturers, we manufacture flat spring pressings to suit a broad range of specifications and offer bespoke options that will suit any application.

Manufacturing Flat Springs

making flat springs

At European Springs, we staff skilled engineers with significant expertise in manufacturing wire forms and flat spring pressings. We understand that special consideration is required, especially when creating bespoke designs of flat springs. The versatility of flat springs needs to be considered, including deciding the material thickness, bend radius and spring geometry, all of which are dictated by the eventual application they will be used for.

Many materials are available to choose from when manufacturing your pressings:

  • Aluminium
  • Beryllium
  • Nickel-based alloys
  • Copper
  • Carbon and stainless steel

These are all viable materials to choose from and are essential for creating an effective flat spring pressing, but ensuring your selecting the suitable material will depend on your application. Many carbon and stainless steels require additional treatment, such as hardening and tempering, to ensure they have sufficient strength and corrosion resistance for outdoor applications.

Our production process can be conducted either manually or automatically with our range of high-end CNC machines. You can commission one-off, hand-crafted flat springs for your custom design from us, or we can manufacture large batches of complex spring pressings to suit your needs.

Flat Spring Pressings From European Springs

At European Springs, we are a leading manufacturer of flat spring pressings in the UK. With decades of experience, our engineers can assist you every step of the way, from our custom design service to prototyping your idea and, eventually, total production. Browse our entire stock collection inside our spring catalogue, or contact us today to discuss how our flat spring service can assist your next application.

The manufacturing industry is constantly growing and changing to create the broad range of complex components our modern lives require. Metal pressings are an integral part of an almost incalculable number of applications as the metals used are highly versatile materials and can be shaped and processed in many ways.

Many manufacturers will have a stock of pressings that are known as standard (or catalogue), but more are embracing the benefits of choosing a bespoke solution.

metal pressings

What Are Metal Pressings?

Metal pressings (or stampings) are essential when a piece of sheet metal is formed (or pressed) with a pressing tool (or die). There are several names for the processes internationally, but they address the same method of creating the precision required for these critical metal components. The humble coin is the best-known example of a pressing, but it’s also a vital part of far more complex applications such as medical machines, electronics and defence.

Pressings are made with a flat metal sheet inserted into a specialised press and formed into the required shape with the previously mentioned pressing tool. The components created through this process may need additional treatments to meet the application’s specific needs. Punching, blanking, embossing, and flanging are all added processes to ensure the parts are precisely how they are designed.

Stock vs Custom Metal Pressings

Metal stamping

A standard method for metal pressings can create catalogue models, but we at European springs prefer to provide more processes to generate bespoke parts. As a result, standard parts will conventionally come in predetermined sizes, materials and designs that will only apply to a set number of applications.

We understand the importance of being in control of your bespoke design when commissioning metal pressings. That is why we provide an expert metal pressing design support team to assist with any decisions about the material, surface treatment or design of your pressings. In addition, our engineers can consider the working environment, repeatability and intended product life you desire to ensure that you get pressings of the highest quality.

The choice of material is essential to get the best quality pressings and something that can be chosen as part of our bespoke service. We produce our bespoke designs from metal strips made from carbon and stainless steel and copper, brass, phosphor bronze, beryllium copper, aluminium and superalloys.

Another benefit to choosing customised pressings is that we can offer these materials in flattened wire and non-metallic materials like Melinex. In addition, we specialise in maintaining a wide range of pressings processes, such as progressive die and multi-slide stamping, so we can adapt to suit the needs of our client’s applications in small or bulk batches.

Pressings Over Fabrication

Metal pressings

The demand for custom metal components leads manufacturers to two methods, pressings and fabrication.

When it comes to bespoke components, many believe the best solution is to choose fabrication, but this is mainly due to the misconception that it’s more effective than pressings. Metal fabrication can involve laser cutting processes that avoid the pressing stage. The disadvantage to this, however, is it’s a process more suited to prototyping or exclusively small runs as it’s a more labour-intensive approach to component creation. The increased work creates more costs making large batches significantly costly. Additionally, it’s a more complex process that makes creating particularly complex bespoke pieces increasingly challenging for manufacturers.

Even bespoke pressings are a cost-effective choice that can produce large batches of complex components with either high-quality sheet metal or durable flattened wire. In addition, these processes will provide uniform results that can be relied upon as well as reduce the waste created compared to alternative methods such as fabrication.

Benefits of Custom Metal Pressings

Metal pressing machine

Component compatibility is the most noticeable benefit of choosing custom metal pressings. However, every application will be unique on some level, so whilst finding existing stock components that will fit is possible, they will not be as effective as bespoke metal pressings, custom-made for your application alone.

Reliability is guaranteed with our bespoke metal pressing service. Our engineers can monitor the manufacture of your pressings from the finalised designs through prototyping and the final batch creation. Compared to choosing standard components from alternative manufacturers, this increased attention will ensure a higher quality product.

Increased durability is always desired when commissioning metal pressings and is provided when choosing to invest in bespoke designs. However, many factors need to be considered when creating your pressings, such as the application’s environmental conditions and the stresses it will endure. For example, aerospace applications put many demands on metal pressings as they provide dramatic variations in temperature, moisture and pressures while requiring a component that can operate effectively in them all. These challenges can be overcome with expert advice from our design team engineers on materials, surface treatments and design and supply you with a cost-effective solution.

As a leading pressing and spring manufacturer in Europe we at European Springs are proud of our team’s consistent abilities to adapt to new metal pressings processes and provide high-quality pieces for our clients. Contact us today if you have any questions about our bespoke pressing service.

Metal stamping has been an integral part of the design and construction of an immense amount of products and applications. High-quality stamping has been used in many sectors, from food and beverage storage, mining equipment, healthcare and aerospace, to name a few.

As the designs for these applications become more complex, they require more intricate parts. The level of detail and diversity of these components made it necessary to develop more stamping processes and machinery that could create these pieces to a sufficiently high level of quality. Hence, the development of progressive and multi-slide stamping.

Metal pressings

What Are Stampings?

Metal stamping (or pressings) is the creation (or forming) of a shape in metal, and this is commonly achieved with a stamping die (or a pressing tool). Pressings and stamping are so similar that the terms have become interchangeable as they both refer to the same process. Nevertheless, pressings and stampings are an essential part of our modern lives, with the number of items that need this process constantly growing. From humble objects such as coins to complex medical machines and automotive pressings, all require durable, high-quality products to work effectively. You can read more about these applications by reading our blog: imagine a world without pressings and stampings.

The general process of stamping involves adding a flat sheet of metal to a specialist machine, such as a stamping press. This flat sheet is then formed into the desired shape as a stamping die is pushed into the flat surface. This initial process can be further enhanced with additional treatments such as:

  • Punching
  • Blanking
  • Embossing
  • Bending
  • Flanging

Stampings can be made from various materials to suit any application. The variety of materials is to consider the different environments that pressings will need to handle. For example, stainless steel is considered to be corrosion resistant, but aluminium is not. Strips of flattened wire can be manipulated in stainless steel, copper, brass, beryllium copper, aluminium and more to provide the best result.

As mentioned previously, the immense variety of increasingly complex designs has made it essential that stamping manufacturers have multiple processes to make the stamping and the equipment match. Two examples we provide at European Springs are progressive die stamping and multi-slide stamping.

metal stampings

What Is Progressive Die Stamping?

Progressive die stamping machines focus on forming a single piece of sheet metal until the final product is produced. The sheet is fed through a series of stamping areas, each designed to complete part of the overall task. This automated feeding system translates the workpiece through several regions, potentially making dozens of small additions until it reaches the end and is complete. These changes could involve cutting, bending, stamping or pressing the piece. A pilot is installed to help translate the piece and maintain precision in the changes. This pilot is fastened to pre-cut holes.

There are many advantages to this method, including reduced set-up time. Progressive die stamping uses 38% less time to set up than alternatives. This enables manufacturers to generate their lots faster and with flexibility when scheduling their projects. The machine’s design and inclusion of a pilot make repeatability with high accuracy easy.

manufacturing facility

What Is Multi-Slide Stamping?

Multi-slide stamping (also known as Four-Slide) is a process that involves using a series of tools and stamping dies to create stampings from slit coil stock or coils of wire. The stamping dyes will be mounted on opposite sides, moving horizontally in several directions. These features enable engineers to create more complex designs.

The process begins with a coil of metal fed into the machine where a series of actuated cam mechanically stamp and form the material into the required shape. This is the main advantage of using multi-slide. The complex working process can maintain a consistent accuracy as the multiple slides work at right angles to perform multiple folds (including those larger than 90°) and add cuts, punches and bend in a single step of the process. Once that’s achieved, the finished component is ejected, and the subsequent production stage commences.

One of the advantages of using Multi-Slide stamping machines is they produce significantly less waste. As a pressings manufacturer dedicated to improving our sustainability, we embrace multi-slide stamping machines as they can limit the wasted metal to 31% of what progressive die stampings commonly produce.

CNC pressings and stampings

Our Multi-Slide department is operated by expert engineers using the best Finzer and Latour machines, which provide unparalleled flexibility of production, perfect for when intricate forming is required. Furthermore, as a manufacturer committed to being eco-friendly, we ensure that as many of the stampings we make are made from component-width material, thereby limiting any waste to minimal levels.

We design and manufacture all our tools in-house to offer our customers a low-cost solution when commissioning the creation of intricately pressed parts. If your next application requires complex pressing or stamping, you should contact our experts today and see how European Springs can help you acquire it.

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