While finding the best possible design solution can be challenging, knowing what options are available can make it easier for you.
One option Smalley provides is a wave spring.
A wave spring, a type of compression spring, is a solution that optimizes space concerns while providing form, fit, and function.
So what is a wave spring?
Let’s start by defining what a spring is. Most people have used or at least have heard of springs. They’re virtually everywhere, from the bed you wake up on, to the gas pump you use to fuel your car, to as far as the rovers on Mars. If you unscrew your pen, you’ll find a spring in there to push the plunger and the ink tip up and down as you click.
There are three main types of springs – compression, extension, and torsion. The type we’ll focus on today is a compression spring.
Invented by Smalley more than 50 years ago, a wave spring is a type of compression spring made of flat wire with a unique 'multiple waves per turn' design. This innovative design is why a wave spring can offer the same spring force as a traditional round wire coil spring but at 50% of its operating height.
How does a wave spring work?
Similar to a traditional coil spring, a wave spring starts at free height. Free height is the natural height of the spring with no load applied, denoted as H in the image below. Work height, denoted as WH, is a height the spring is compressed to at a specified load. As the wave spring is compressed, a load is output until a working height is reached. At the spring’s work height, the specified load is achieved.
This concept is displayed by the force-deflection curve below. Let’s say you have two load requirements for your application, 20 and 28 lb. The first load is output at a work height of 0.08 in., as indicated by the leftmost blue ‘x’ on the curve. The 28 lb. load requirement is output at a work height of 0.06 in.
Now let’s take a part number out of our catalog for a Crest-to-Crest Wave Spring, C100-M1. The spring has a free height of .250 in. and a work height of .087 in. At this designated work height, the Crest-to-Crest Wave Spring outputs a load of 18 lb. Beyond this work height, the spring may take a set, making the spring forces unpredictable.
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