Compression springs in machinery require precise design and thoughtful selection. This article focuses on factors such as Goodman fatigue calculations, material choice and the use of coatings that can lengthen the lifespan of compression springs. An example can be seen in car suspension systems, where the correct material selection can help the spring withstand continuous road shock without degradation. This article aims to assist engineers in creating durable, long-lasting compression springs.

Calculating Spring Lifespan - Goodman Fatigue

The Goodman diagram, also known as the Goodman-Haigh diagram, is a tool used in the field of material failure theory, a branch of materials science. It is an equation that quantifies the interaction of mean and alternating stress in a material, providing a prediction of the maximum number of alternating stress cycles a material can withstand before failure.

The diagram is typically presented as a linear curve of mean stress versus alternating stress. Experimental data can be plotted on this diagram, often approximated by a straight line known as the Goodman line. The Goodman line is considered a safer consideration than the Gerber parabola because it is completely linear.

The Goodman diagram was originally proposed in 1890 and is used to represent the effect of alternating stress on a material. The alternating stress is plotted on one axis and the mean stress on the other. The general trend given by the Goodman relation is one of decreasing fatigue life with increasing mean stress.

A Goodman diagram can be particularly useful in predicting the fatigue life of materials under cyclic stress conditions. It can be used to determine if a cyclic stress time history is within the infinite life region for a product made of a given material ( 1 ). This makes it a valuable tool in the design and testing of materials, particularly in industries where materials are subject to repeated stress, such as automotive or aerospace engineering.

Material and Coating Effects on Lifespan

The lifespan and endurance of compression springs are determined by their material and coating type.

Material Selection: The fatigue durability of a compression spring depends on the material's properties, specifically tensile and yield strength. For instance, stainless steel and phosphor bronze exhibit high tensile and yield strengths which allow the springs to endure multiple load cycles without deformation, thereby maintaining their original shape.

Coating Selection: Coating acts as a shield against factors like corrosion that can degrade the spring's performance. It restricts the interaction between the spring material and external elements like moisture and chemicals, which in turn prolongs the spring lifespan. Coating materials like zinc, nickel, and epoxy are commonly used for their protective properties. Combination of a high-strength material such as stainless steel with a zinc coating can enhance the lifespan due to an increased resistance to corrosion.

Coating-Material Compatibility: The chemical interaction between the coating and the spring material contributes to the performance of the spring. Some coatings can instigate chemical reactions with the spring material, resulting in premature failure. Thus, the compatibility of the coating material with the spring material is important. A nickel coating may raise the corrosion resistance and lifespan of steel springs, but using it on aluminum springs could trigger galvanic corrosion, leading to early spring failure.

Practical Recommendations for Engineers


Increasing the lifespan of compression springs involves exact calculations and well-considered decisions about material and coating. Formulating a blueprint for spring design can limit stress and corrosion. For example, using galvanized steel in a moisture-rich environment lessens the risk of rust. A well-designed spring operates reliably and reduces costs related to maintenance and replacement. This validates the time invested in creating a durable spring design.