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Unveiling the Power of Wave Springs

3 mins read

In the realm of mechanical components, a wave spring is a distinctive type of compression spring characterised by its unique waveform-like structure.

(Image credit: Rotorclip)

Imagine a spring that compresses and expands in a way reminiscent of natural waves you might see in water. Unlike more common coil springs or disc springs, wave springs offer a fresh perspective on engineering challenges. Their standout feature lies in their remarkable ability to compress and expand efficiently while occupying significantly less space than traditional options. 

Rotor Clip manufactures a range of wave spring options designed to meet specific engineering needs. The company offers single-turn, multi-turn, nested, linear, and round-wire wave springs. Each design is distinctly crafted from wire with waves added to define each spring’s performance.

Top Five Advantages of Wave Springs:

Axial Space Savings:

A key advantage of wave springs lies in their axial space efficiency. Wave springs demonstrate a spatial advantage by occupying half the space compared to traditional coil springs in “static” conditions, where the spring is in compression and minimal movement occurs. As movement increases in “dynamic” applications, additional turns may be added to provide the appropriate amount of travel. With this additional height, wave springs continue to offer significant space savings – approximately 30% less than their static state. So, whether the application requires parts to stay still or cycle, wave springs are great at minimising the space required.

Repeatable & Accurate Spring Force:

Understanding springs involves looking at how they behave when you compress them. Most springs act differently as you compress them. Imagine a graph that shows the force vs. the amount of compression – the more linear the graph the more predictable the spring will react. They usually have a smooth and predictable force between 30 and 70% compression, where forces build consistently as the spring is compressed. The linear behaviour of wave springs allows for larger dimensional tolerances within the axial cavity given in the application. The wave spring is able to compensate for a larger amount of axial tolerances with less impact on the spring force provided due to the distinctive linear behaviour. Wave springs provide an accurate, repeatable load with the forces building linearly like a coil spring, yet in a smaller cavity. Like any spring, as you approach solid, forces become unpredictable however our engineering team is available to consult application requirements.

No Torsional Loads:

When you compress a regular coil spring to make it function, it not only deals with the uncynical forces but also twists (torsion). This twisting can cause wear on the supporting surface and/or mating components. This rotational wear problem is common in many applications, leading to spring failures. However, wave springs have a clever design that avoids this issue. Their unique wave shape allows them to compress only in the axial direction, eliminating the torsional action that can cause wear. 

Increased Travel:

One multi-turn wave spring can replace assemblies that rely on multiple disc springs. For most disc or belleville spring applications, short travel distances are typically demanded—usually less than 1 mm. Rotor Clip has the capability to adjust the required travel to precisely match application specifications, whether it’s 50 mm (about 1.97 in), 1 mm (about 0.04 in), or even more. Making the switch from a stacked disc spring assembly to a single wave spring not only reduces installation costs but also minimises the risk of incorrect assembly, such as using the wrong number of disc springs or assembling them incorrectly. A multi-turn spring offers greater deflection, while a nested spring can handle higher loads with less travel. Often, when replacing belleville disc springs, a custom spring is needed. Fortunately, Rotorclip can design a custom spring by adjusting parameters like the number of turns, wire thickness, or number of waves to meet specific load and deflection requirements.

Versatility & Customisability:

Wave springs are customisable, offering engineers options for their designs. Rotor Clip, provides engineers with the ability to customise wave springs and their features, including material thickness, radial wall, number of waves, number of turns, alloy selection and end configurations. This breadth of customisation ensures that wave springs align with the specific requirements of diverse applications, allowing engineers to optimise performance, address space constraints, and enhance load capacities.

The advantage goes beyond flexibility – it’s about providing engineers with a strategic tool to fine-tune force profiles, compression characteristics, and structural adaptations. Moreover, vertical integration at Rotor Clip ensures control over the production of wire and the coiling processes, guaranteeing that your customised wave springs meet exact specifications. Rotorclip holds a stock of both standard carbon and stainless steels and exotic alloys such as Inconel and Elgiloy on site, ensuring they are available to be transferred to production for both standard and custom parts at short notice.  

This article first appeared on Rotorclip's website