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Wave springs are superior to coil springs in certain applications because they operate at lower work heights while providing the same force. This article will explore the technical benefits of using a wave spring instead of a traditional coil spring.Wave springs are an alternative to a traditional coil spring. They can operate as a load-bearing device to dampen vibration and compensate for dimensional variations within assemblies. Typically, a wave spring occupies a small area compared to the amount of force it can provide. As a result, the use of this product excels within tight axial and radial space constraints.

Figure 1. Wave spring examples. Source: SmalleyFigure 1. Wave spring examples. Source: Smalley

1. Reduced Work Height

In applications with space constraints, Crest-to-Crest Wave Springs can take up to 50 percent less space than a traditional coil spring. This space saving is made possible with the sinusoidal waves formed in the flat wire. The Crest-to-Crest® wave configuration allows for the bending of flat wire, which compresses to create spring force. This results in a more compact spring that uses less material and reduces the overall weight of the spring and assembly.

2. Design Flexibility

Figure 2. Crest-to-Crest Wave Springs are a marked improvement over coil designs. Source: SmalleyFigure 2. Crest-to-Crest Wave Springs are a marked improvement over coil designs. Source: SmalleyVirtually any aspect of a wave spring can be designed to meet application requirements. The number of turns, end type, wave distribution, material type and thickness are just a few of the characteristics that can be customized. Wave springs can be adjusted rather efficiently due to Smalley’s unique Edgewinding® process. First, round wire is rolled flat, then it is coiled on edge to create the unique spring configuration. Smalley controls the entire manufacturing process from start to finish, ensuring that custom designs are created quickly and economically.

3. Cost Savings

As previously mentioned, the Crest-to-Crest Wave Spring operates at a reduced work height compared to a coil spring. This allows for the entire assembly to reduce in size, making it more efficient and inexpensive to manufacture as it requires less material to produce. In the case of applications with surrounding cast or machined parts, a wave spring would provide a significant cost savings.

4. Consistent Force Distribution

Unlike coil springs, wave springs allow for a more even distribution of force. During compression, a coil spring may buckle or unexpectedly bend. The reduced height of a wave spring makes it less likely to suffer similar misalignment. For applications where force distribution is a critical concern, wave springs can be designed with a flat shim end on one or both side. Shim ends more evenly distribute the springs force upon adjacent components because of the 360 degrees of contact. Common applications that may require even force distribution are valves, seals, and assemblies using soft materials like plastics.

5. Versatility

Wave springs can be utilized across all industries and applications. Below are some examples of common applications that use a wave spring in their design.

  • Flow valves: As fluid pressure increases, a Crest-to-Crest Wave Spring precisely controls the linear displacement of the piston.
  • Pressure relief valves: Air pressure under the assembly causes the spring load to increase, forcing the plate away from the sealing surface providing the pressure relief mechanism. Once the pressure decreases, the spring will return to its original work height, allowing the unit to seal again.
  • Face seals: The wave spring applies pressure to precisely load against a mating surface, properly sealing fluids.
  • Vibration isolators: Under constant loading, the isolator dampens vibration from equipment operation. Wave springs are used to provide the precise and predictable load/deflection curves.

Contact Smalley

For over 50 years, Smalley has been an innovator of wave spring design. Their engineers are able to help identify the correct wave spring for your design requirements. Standard or custom, Smalley will provide you with the right part, in the right material, for your application.

For more information on Smalley Wave Springs, visit their home page.