When working on mechanical devices, the spring you choose can affect the device's functionality. Carbon steel is often chosen for its hardness, cost effectiveness, and ready supply. However, it also has its downsides. For example, carbon steel springs might not work as well in cold climates like on an Arctic drilling rig. This article will present both the advantages and disadvantages of carbon steel springs, assisting you in making choices related to design, longevity, and cost.

Advantage - Strength

Carbon steel is commonly used in spring manufacturing due to its mechanical properties. Specifically, its high tensile strength and durability allow it to resist deformation under pressure. For instance, the automotive engineering field often uses carbon steel for suspension and valve springs because of these characteristics.

Carbon steel springs also provide a good strength-to-weight ratio. Their capability to carry high loads without greatly increasing the overall weight is useful in numerous industries. Consider the aerospace industry, where needing lightweight components is a typical requirement.

Additionally, it's critical to note the drawbacks of carbon steel springs. In environments with corrosion or at high temperatures, the functionality of this material may decrease. As a result, protective treatments or coatings may be necessary in these cases to extend the lifespan of these springs.

Advantage - Cost

Carbon steel often results in less expensive springs compared to choices like stainless steel or advanced composite materials. The cost advantage of carbon steel springs can change due to the volatile nature of the global steel market. In the automotive industry, for instance, carbon steel springs are frequently used in suspension systems because they are less expensive and meet performance standards.

However, there are situations that may require more expensive materials such as stainless steel, especially when the need for corrosion resistance is high. Even though carbon steel springs are less expensive, they might not fulfill the necessary level of corrosion resistance.

Using carbon steel springs can reduce expenditure, especially during times when the budget is limited. But keep in mind that over time, a more corrosion resistant material may turn out to be lower cost in the long run, as maintenance costs would be reduced.

Advantage - Availability

The use of carbon steel springs in engineering tasks is common due to their global abundance. Carbon steel is readily available and easily acquired due to current extraction and refining methods. Choosing this material for your spring design can ensure a continuous supply, which can reduce potential setbacks caused by interruptions in the supply of less common materials. For instance, if you're constructing a machine with many movement cycles, which mandates regular spring replacements, the widespread availability of carbon steel springs can keep the production schedule consistent.

This benefit may not be universal. In areas with sparse carbon steel resources, or those lacking in the required technology for its extraction and refinement, other materials might be preferable. For example, if a project is in a location where the procurement of stainless steel is easier, opting for a spring composed of stainless steel might save time and reduce expenses.

Disadvantage - Extreme Environments

Carbon steel springs have limitations in extreme conditions due to their material properties. They oxidize, or rust, when exposed to oxygen and moisture, a process that can speed up in high humidity and salty conditions such as marine applications.

Temperature changes impact the behavior of carbon steel springs. High temperatures lead to a loss of hardness and a decrease in load-bearing capacity in the carbon steel. For example, in industrial furnaces or engine applications, the elevated operational temperatures can alter the utility of the spring. Conversely, in very low temperatures, carbon steel springs can turn brittle and crack, constraining their use in applications such as arctic explorations and space missions.

Considering these constraints of carbon steel in extreme conditions, other materials such as stainless steel or specific alloys may be more apt. Stainless steel springs have excellent resistance to corrosion, making them suitable for marine applications. Certain alloys have a better reaction to temperature changes than carbon steel. However, in selecting a material, engineers should factor in both the cost of the material and its properties to make a suitable design choice for the specific application.


Carbon steel springs have notable strengths, including durability, affordability, and wide accessibility. These features make them suitable for many sectors. However, they may pose challenges in extreme conditions which need to be considered during the design phase. Such knowledge about these springs can support engineers when choosing material for spring designs. For example, businesses operating in severe weather may need to balance the benefits of carbon steel's cost and strength with its potential performance issues under such conditions. Therefore, understanding the advantages and disadvantages helps in making accurate spring selections for specific applications.