What are Wave Springs?

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A Spring is an elastic device, typically a helical metal coil, that can be pressed or pulled but returns to its former shape when released, used chiefly to exert constant tension or absorb movement.  When it comes to types, there are many and every day there are new products which come out to the market.  One such type is a wave spring and this write-up is to throw light on wave springs.

Wave Spring – Advantages:

  • Wave springs reduce spring height by 50%
  • Same force and deflection as ordinary coil / compression springs
  • Wave springs fit tight radial and axial spaces

Wave Springs offer the unique advantage of space savings when used to replace coil springs.  By reducing spring operating height, wave springs also produce a decrease in the spring cavity.  With a smaller assembly size and less material used in the manufacturing process, a cost savings is realized.

Wave springs operate as load bearing devices.  They take up play and compensate for dimensional variations within assemblies.  A virtually unlimited range of forces can be produced whereby loads build either gradually or abruptly to reach a predetermined working height.  This establishes a precise spring rate in which load is proportional to deflection.

Functional requirements are necessary for both dynamic and static spring applications.  Special performance characteristics are individually built into each spring to satisfy a variety of precise operating conditions.  Typically, a wave spring will occupy an extremely small area for the amount of work it performs.  The use of this product is demanded, but not limited to tight axial and radial space constraints.

A typical use of such wave springs can be found in a crankcase pressure relief valve.  Older design was to use a conical spring to keep the relief valve in place.  Whereas the latest design is to use a wave spring which occupies a less space when compared with other types.

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An air compressor pressure relief valve is a typical example where a wave spring is used.  An exact pressure is accomplished using a Crest-to-Crest Wave Spring.  Air pressure under the assembly causes the spring load to increase, forcing the plate away from the sealing surface providing the pressure relief mechanism.  When the load against the spring decreases, the spring’s force decreases, allowing the unit to seal once again.

Source: Smalley

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