The concept of spring tolerances plays a crucial role in engineering, influencing the operation of machines. These tolerances are affected by various factors like working conditions, material properties, and load capacities. For example, when designing an outdoor pumping system, an engineer may need to consider natural fluctuations in temperature in their tolerance calculations. Higher tolerances might be necessary due to these external variables. Comprehending these factors can aid engineers in improving their designs and avoiding equipment failures due to incorrect tolerance selection.

What are Spring Tolerances

Spring tolerances define the allowable variations in the physical dimensions and force attributes of a spring during its manufacturing process. These tolerances express the maximum permissible deviations of a spring's attributes from the original design. Key facets where tolerances apply include spring rate, free length, solid height, coil diameter, and force at length.

For example, consider a spring designed for a safety valve in a pressure system. It should function within a specific pressure range. If the spring rate is marked as 5N/mm ±10%, this means that the spring rate can vary between 4.5N/mm and 5.5N/mm without affecting the valve's function. However, if a manufacturing irregularity causes a spring rate outside this range, this could lead to high pressure buildup, which may damage the system or lead to its failure. Spring tolerances allow for a level of predictability during minor manufacturing irregularities.

A universal spring tolerance cannot be set as the acceptable variation can change based on factors such as the type of spring, its usage, and its operating conditions. As an example, a compression spring in a car suspension system will likely have different tolerances from a torsion spring in a watch mechanism. These differences may result from their operating stresses and environmental factors. Therefore, engineers need to choose the spring tolerance that best fits the specific requirements of their applications.

Effect of Spring Tolerances on Machine Performance

How to Account for Wide Tolerances

Following the completion of the design phase, it is essential to take steps to predict and tackle potential divergences in the quality control process. Such steps could incorporate regular inspections during production, thorough testing post-production, and periodic reviews of manufacturing procedures. Simultaneously, improvements in the manufacturing procedure to decrease initial discrepancies should be considered.

This can be achieved by employing precision-controlled, computer-operated spring coiling machines. These machines help ensure uniform spring dimensions and stricter tolerance levels. Consequently, quality assurance actions such as inspection and auditing, although mandatory, can be further supported and reinforced by establishing a robust manufacturing process designed to proactively handle tolerance issues.

If you are not a spring manufacturer, but rather trying to procure a spring, your design tolerances for the assembly components that interface with the spring will need to be designed such as to allow for these tolerances. Some specific strategies include assuming constant preload to account for variations in free length, or using an undersized diameter tube to support the inner diameter of the spring, in case the ID is smaller than the nominal value.


Knowledge of spring tolerances is important for engineers, especially those working with spring design, manufacturing, and usage. Effective control over tolerances can reduce wear, boost reliability, and better machine operation. For instance, a spring with well-managed tolerances in a valve assembly can extend the machinery's lifespan, which can result in cost savings. Therefore, understanding and managing tolerances are important elements in good spring engineering.