spring

A spring is an elastic object used to store mechanical energy. Springs are usually made out of spring steel. There are a large number of spring designs; in everyday usage the term often refers to coil springs. Small springs can be wound from pre-hardened stock, while larger ones are made from annealed steel and hardened after fabrication. Some non-ferrous metals are also used including phosphor bronze and titanium for parts requiring corrosion resistance and beryllium copper for springs carrying electrical current (because of its low electrical resistance). When a coil spring is compressed or stretched slightly from rest, the force it exerts is approximately proportional to its change in length (this approximation breaks down for larger deflections). The rate or spring constant of a spring is the change in the force it exerts, divided by the change in deflection of the spring. That is, it is the gradient of the force versus deflection curve. An extension or compression spring has units of force divided by distance, for example lbf/in or N/m. Torsion springs have units of torque divided by angle, such as N·m/rad or ft·lbf/degree. The inverse of spring rate is compliance, that is: if a spring has a rate of 10 N/mm, it has a compliance of 0.1 mm/N. The stiffness (or rate) of springs in parallel is additive, as is the compliance of springs in series. Depending on the design and required operating environment, any material can be used to construct a spring, so long as the material has the required combination of rigidity and elasticity: technically, a wooden bow is a form of spring.

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