Selecting the right springs for machinery in very cold conditions is an essential task. Springs, used across various engineering fields for energy storage and shock absorption, face unique challenges in cold environments. Take, for instance, the mechanisms inside a satellite dealing with the extreme cold of outer space – conventional spring materials may become brittle or lose tension, risking the satellite's normal functioning. Severe cold can impact spring properties, potentially altering stiffness or causing system failures. This article explores the effect of low temperatures on spring behavior and discusses appropriate materials for such conditions.

Affects of Extreme Low Temperature on Springs

Under extreme low temperature conditions, springs can exhibit altered properties due to the thermal contraction experienced by their material components. One common material for springs is steel, that tends to become brittle under these low temperatures. A practical example is a steel coil spring, which might demonstrate reduced deflection and a propensity for breakage under the influence of chilly conditions, due to this pronounced brittleness. Additionally, this brittleness caused by low temperatures can be observed as size changes in the springs.

In environments of low temperature, a phenomenon known as metal embrittlement is also seen, increasing fracture likelihood and hastening material degradation. A comparison demonstrating this effect might be between a spring in a very cold space, analogous to a satellite's conditions, and a spring operating under Earth's normal conditions. The spring in the colder space would exhibit decreased operation due to embrittlement. Therefore, when working under extreme cold conditions, materials that maintain their flexibility should be selected for springs.

Moreover, corrosive effects resulting from low temperatures can affect corrosion-resistant materials including stainless steel, potentially shortening the operational life of the spring. Thus, materials displaying resistance against both low-temperature embrittlement and corrosion should be a consideration to ensure prolonged spring functionality.

Best Spring Materials for Extreme Low Temperatures

The material of a spring directly impacts its behavior and lifespan in extreme low-temperature environments. These three materials are often used under such conditions:


Selecting a spring for use in extreme low temperature environments requires understanding the behavior of the spring material under these conditions. Key factors to review are the material's ductility, potential for brittleness, and resistance to corrosion. Stainless Steel 302, Inconel X-750, and Elgiloy are materials known for their performance in cold conditions. Besides operating temperature, the choice of spring material needs to be compatible with particular environmental factors and the requirements of the application. Each factor contributes to the overall decision, assisting engineers in selecting a suitable spring.