This may sound very boring at the start, please bear with us – it gets interesting as you read along. So, how much do you know about industrial springs? Not much, we’re sure because for us springs are something that we take for granted. For instance, take a look around and try identifying objects that have springs incorporated into them. How many did you find? Alright, look again and bear in mind that ballpoints sport springs so do a number of remote controls, clipboard, chair that you’re probably sitting on or the mattress that you’re so comfortably lying on and even the computer keys have springs.
If you look at the bigger picture, you’ll realize that almost every home appliance and even the medical gadgets sport springs in various sizes. Industrial settings rely on springs for various uses and while most springs seem too similar, there are plethora of differences between them and their working. The spring’s diameter, construction material along with number of coils that it features vary the spring’s behavior and subsequently its use as well.
One of the most commonly used spring is known as a torsion or compression spring that is capable of producing tension that is then used for creating a squeezing effect on an object. This is the kind you’ll find in a clipboard or in the conventional clothes pin. The spring’s force keeps the pin closed, however, a simple push is capable of flexing the string and opening the pin. Another type is the tension spring that is also commonly made use of. This one stretches or extends once weight is subjected to it. You can find this type on a trampoline or a garage door opener.
Alright, now that you’ve had your introduction with basic idea of springs, let’s talk about 3D printing. Wait, what? We know for a fact that 3D printers are yet not capable of creating functional spring. Then what on Earth does 3D printing got to do with springs? Let’s look at it objectively, shall we? Springs are a product, yes? 3D printers facilitate with prototyping. Join the two and you have 3D printers rapidly prototyping for manufacturing of springs.
The spring industry has to make use of precision of a very high order in order to manufacture springs that are capable of performing exactly the task they’re required to do in the limited confinement where they will be installed. Usually a product designer has very little idea of the kind of spring that’s required or the task that it will be serving and thus consulting with a spring manufacturer is the agreed-upon-norm. The spring manufacturer has to then create a spring that is capable of performing a particular task and is capable of doing that in a space that doesn’t even feature a millimeter of clearance.
So how exactly does 3D printing help out in this scenario? It’s simple; 3D printing prototypes of the product allow the spring manufacturers to ascertain that the spring’s dimensions are right and whether the required spring can be fabricated in the first place. This pre-fitting process reduces waste since spring makers no longer have to go through a myriad of iterations and also helps in saving valuable time and subsequently money.
3D printing is also used for the manufacturing of gauges and tools that are employed for determining if the spring that is manufactures is of right shape and size. This means that a spring can be tested right away after it is manufactured to ascertain if it’s the correct size, thickness and shape. What does it prevent? Even a minor possibility of any minute variation that might cause the spring to work differently than what’s required.
The fact that 3D printing is so quickly becoming a reliable tool for manufacturing processes exhibits the versatility of this technology. 3D printing has made its way into various industries and it seems it won’t just stop here. It is being adopted so quickly because it helps in cutting down of costs and saves valuable time.