Creating compression springs, devices constructed to manage energy and oppose compression, presents various engineering obstacles. These challenges involve managing costs, ensuring resilience, and meeting precision requirements. Additionally, engineers frequently struggle to source a commercially available spring that fulfills all their specifications. Say an engineer working on a vehicle's suspension may need a robust, yet cost-effective spring that can shoulder heavy loads without losing its operational capacity. Our aim in this article is to clarify these issues, providing useful guidance to help engineers navigate the journey of designing successful compression springs.

Weight vs Strength vs Cost Tradeoffs

In the design of compression springs, weight, strength, and cost are vital parameters. The weight of the spring depends not only on the material selected but also on the coil's diameter. The use of lighter materials such as aluminium or a reduced coil diameter could result in a spring with less weight. However, these changes might decrease the spring's strength and might raise the cost.

In cases where high load requirements necessitate the use of a strong steel spring, the selection of an appropriate, robust material is required. Similarly, increasing coil diameter can enhance the spring's strength. However, these alterations might elevate the spring's weight and cost. This underlines the relationships between material choice, coil size, weight, strength, and cost in designing a spring.

Some scenarios may require materials that demonstrate increased strength, despite a higher price tag. Consequently, manufacturing processes designed for strength augmentation, such as heat treatment or cold winding, may be required, which will elevate production cost. Therefore, both material choice and manufacturing processes influence the final strength, weight, and cost of a spring.

The ideal compression spring design achieves a balance between weight, strength, and cost. This balance is achieved by considering specific application requirements, a thorough understanding of materials and production processes, and a thorough cost analysis. By evaluating these elements, a compression spring design that meets the demands for strength, conforms to weight limits, and remains within monetary constraints can be developed.

Understanding Tolerances and Precision

In designing compression springs, parameters, including coil diameter, wire diameter, free length, and spring rate, need accurate measurements.A deviation in the coil diameter, for example, may lead to issues during assembly, or lower the spring's load-bearing capacity.

The level of precision is directly linked to the selected manufacturing technique, and it influences the total expenses. Hot coiling can generate larger springs at a reduced cost, but this method could alter the spring dimensions due to thermal expansion, leading to wider tolerances on the final product. Contrastingly, cold coiling, although it is more costly, offers superior precision. This manufacturing method is suitable for smaller springs that require a high level of accuracy.

Given these trade-offs, engineers must find a compromise between the wanted precision and cost management within defined restrictions, such as financial resources. Thus, the best resolutions may necessitate a deliberate choice of the manufacturing method and effective control methods to ensure both function and costs are appropriately balanced.

Finding a COTS Spring

Selecting an appropriate Commercially Off-The-Shelf (COTS) compression spring presents challenges due to their fixed specifications. These springs often have predetermined dimensions and forms, limiting their applicability for certain uses. For example, designing a small-sized medical device, it may be difficult to find a COTS spring that meets both the necessary small dimensions and adequate load-bearing capacity.

Some scenarios require a COTS spring with certain features, like a specific spring rate or high load-bearing capacity. A real-world example is a heavy-duty machinery application that may need a powerful spring that can also fit within tight spaces. However, locating a COTS spring that meets both of these requirements can be problematic.

The material and finish of COTS springs pose additional challenges during the selection process. Engineers may need COTS springs made from specific materials or with specific finishes for adequate functionality under certain conditions. For instance, a marine application could need a spring resistant to rust or with a finish resistant to saltwater. This need might not be easily satisfied by standard COTS springs.

While COTS springs can reduce lead times and simplify replacement, selecting them may require compromise. If under time pressure, a designer might choose a readily available COTS spring that may not meet all the project specifications. A thorough understanding of the application's needs and the specifications of available COTS springs is important in the spring selection process.

Oftentimes, the best way to find a spring that best fits yor needs while remaining in the COTS realm is to use a compression spring calculator. A good online calculator can take any number of your requirements/inputs and provide you with an assortment of exact matches or approximate solutions to these requirements.


Compression spring design is detailed work, needing a balance between multiple aspects. Key elements include the relationship between strength and weight, considering costs, and determining exact tolerances. While finding a Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) spring that fits your needs can be difficult, it remains an option. The main objective is to create springs that meet the given specifications. When problems occur during the design process, use them to develop new methods for an improved design. The resulting compression springs fulfill the requirements and are cost-effective, providing good value for your application.