This article explores the effects that extreme cold can have on the performance and lifespan of springs. Consider an aerospace application, where springs often face significant temperature decreases. It's important to understand how these cold conditions can affect the operation of springs and the materials they are made from. Cold temperatures can create brittleness in certain materials, alter the performance of the spring, and potentially lead to the build-up of precipitation. The extent of these impacts is dependent on the specifics of the spring's material and design. For instance, a carbon steel spring could lose its performance capabilities rapidly in cold conditions, while a spring made from an Inconel alloy may maintain its structural integrity longer, hence its higher cost in applications where optimal functionality is a priority.

Examples of Extreme Cold Temperature Environments

Effect of Cold Temperature on Spring Constant

Low temperatures alter the spring constant, which measures a spring's reaction to applied force. When the temperature decreases, changes occur in the spring's material properties, causing the spring to become more rigid. This increased rigidity raises the spring constant, making the spring more difficult to compress or extend. This can alter the spring's typical elastic behavior, leading it to behave more like a solid. Consider an automotive suspension spring as an example. Exposure to sub-zero temperatures causes the spring to become more rigid, which changes the system's shock absorption capability and potentially affects the smoothness of the ride. This illustrates how a discrepancy between the intended and actual spring constant can affect the function of devices that depend on the spring's flexibility.

Repeated changes in temperature, particularly transitioning from cold to ambient temperatures and vice versa, can affect the spring's performance stability. This variation in spring constant can result in inconsistent behavior, an issue for applications requiring precision. For example, in a spacecraft, minor variations can have significant effects. Consistency in spring performance is important in such cases. Understanding the effect of cold temperatures on the spring constant can aid in the correct selection and design of springs for cold environments. Choosing the right material is also significant, as certain materials like Inconel alloys exhibit less variation in spring constant with temperature changes, potentially offering a solution to these challenges.

Material Selection for Extreme Temperature Environments

For spring designs intended for cold conditions, choosing appropriate materials is essential. Materials with high cold resistance, such as 17-7 PH stainless steel and Inconel 718, can maintain their flexural strength in low temperatures. However, the performance of these materials can differ based on specific environmental conditions.

For instance, consider a scenario involving a drilling machine for Arctic exploration that regularly endures bitterly cold temperatures. In this case, Inconel 718 is a suitable material for its spring mechanism due to its ability to maintain strength at low temperatures. For less demanding situations or cost restrictions, alternatives like cold-resistant carbon steel or nickel-chromium alloys such as Invar 36 could suffice.

The selection of these materials hinges on their relative resilience at low temperatures compared to other choices. Before deciding on a material, factors such as cost, availability, expected lifespan of the spring, as well as the severity of the cold environment that the spring will operate in must be weighed. These factors influence the functionality and lifespan of the spring under cold conditions.


In designing springs for extreme cold temperatures, it is crucial to understand the changes these conditions can cause. The selection of suitable material can enhance the endurance and dependability of springs exposed to cold climate, while also increasing their usage period. With this knowledge, manufacturers may choose design methods that accommodate freezing temperatures. Detailed and deliberate designs, informed by the understanding of cold's influence on spring operation, allow these springs to function effectively, even when the temperature drops significantly. This strategy improves the durability of our spring systems and broadens the options for engineering designs in extremely cold locations on earth and space.