Choose the Right Material for Your Spring
From writing pens to wristwatches, springs are everywhere. There’s even that popular toy that is nothing but a big spring. Types of springs are almost as varied as their uses. The same is true of materials that springs are made of. If you’re in the market for springs, choose the material that offers the properties your project demands.
A common material for making springs, music wire is a high-carbon steel wire known for its impressive ability to withstand the stress of compression and decompression without breaking or becoming deformed. It is important to note that music wire is more susceptible to corrosion than other materials.
Springs crafted from stainless steel do not have the same strength as those made from music wire, but they do provide better resistance to corrosion. Also, they can withstand higher temperatures – generally up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit – than music wire, which can endure about half that.
Springs made of nickel alloys are able to withstand extreme heat and cold, as well as highly corrosive environments. Because nickel alloys are not magnetic, they are commonly used in devices such as chronoscopes and other indicating instruments.
In addition to their superior corrosion resistance and ability to endure subzero temperatures, copper alloys also offer high electrical conductivity. Springs crafted from this more expensive material often are found in electrical components.
A host of coatings and other surface treatments are available springs. Some of the most common include:
- Zinc plating, which helps protect against corrosion.
- Tin plating, which facilitates easy soldering and improves corrosion resistance.
- Black oxide, a black coating used mainly for decorative purposes
- Electro-polishing, a process in which surface material is removed from a spring, giving it a glossy finish, raising the fatigue limit and improving resistance to corrosion.
As you continue to educate yourself about spring materials, be sure to talk to a professional to determine what best suits your needs.
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