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Have you ever wondered what keeps a watch running? Or helps a recliner recline? These devices are made possible because of spiral counterbalance springs, which can also go by the names:

  • Springs
  • Clock Power springs
  • Spiral torsion springs
  • Flat springs

In this article, we provide the lowdown on spiral counterbalance springs, how they operate, how they are made, what they are used for, and how you can be assured of choosing the right spiral counterbalance spring from Spring Dynamics.

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What Is a Spiral Counterbalance Spring?

Before we define a counterbalance spring, let’s first define counterbalance. A counterbalance is a weight or force that offsets or checks an opposing force. In a spiral counterbalance spring, the spring mechanism is the counterbalancing force. Spiral counterbalance springs are made from rectangular metal strips that have been wound into a flat spiral. These springs have either special retaining holes or bends on both ends that allow them to attach or anchor into place.

How Do Spiral Counterbalance Springs Work?

Spiral counterbalance springs are engineered to store and release rotational energy in the form of torque. Spiral springs are like conventional helical torsion springs except they are wound in a single plane as opposed to a helical spiral. Spiral springs are best suited for applications requiring less than 360 degrees of angular rotation. Like all mechanical springs, spiral torsion springs adhere to a mathematical equation called Hooke’s law, which states that the displacement of an elastic object is directly proportional to the force applied. In simpler terms, a spiral torsion spring will wind up twice as much when twice the torque is applied.

What Are the Advantages of Spiral Counterbalance Spring?

Spiral counterbalance or constant force springs offer several advantages compared with other types of springs:

  • High force output in relatively small space requirements
  • Simplified attaching methods
  • Longevity

Types of Spiral Counterbalance Springs

There are several different types of spiral and coil springs.

  • Power Springs: These spiral springs are often also called clock springs because they are frequently used in clock manufacturing to provide power. These springs provide rotational energy from either the arbor, case, or linear motion with the use of a pulley or cable. These coil springs can offer a high force output with very small space requirements. They also provide long linear reach with minimal force buildup and can store power indefinitely when extended.
  • Hairsprings: These are open wound spiral springs. They have coils that are evenly spaced apart. These coil springs are usually small in size and are typically used in the instrument industry. For example, they can be used in timing devices, meters, or anti-backlash mechanisms between gears.
  • Brush Springs: These spiral springs are so-called because they have been used for a long time to apply pressure to carbon brushes in electric motors and generators. These are open wound coil springs that are characterized by having all coils active through most of the travel.
  • Constant Force Springs: Constant force coil springs are a type of spiral spring that is formed so that each coil wraps tightly around the other. When in use, the free end is pulled out and the load is built up by the inner coils. These coil springs can be any length and are designed to provide a constant load at a near-zero rate.

Examples of Counterbalance Springs in Everyday Use

Spiral springs have all kinds of practical applications. They are used in:

  • Reels
  • Seat recliners
  • Closure assists
  • Retractable safety devices
  • Toys
  • Mechanical motors
  • Timing devices
  • Meters

Spiral springs are also used in automotive systems. In a vehicle steering wheel, a clock spring is used as a spiral-wound rotary electrical connector that allows a vehicle’s steering wheel to turn while still making an electrical connection between the airbag, the horn, and other devices and the vehicle’s electrical system.

How Are Counterbalance Springs Made?

Springs are generally made of hardened steel. The most commonly used spring steels are music wire, stainless steel, chrome silicon, oil tempered wire, and chrome vanadium. The different materials are ideal for a number of different conditions. Below are some materials and their specific conditions:

  • Music Wire is used for applications that demand a great deal of strength and results in an overall high-quality spring.
  • Stainless steel creates a product that functions well in moist environments since it will not rust.
  • Chrome Silicon will allow for use in higher temperatures and is a higher strength and quality version of oil tempered wire.
  • Oil Tempered Wire is a widely available, economical choice used for many common counterbalance springs
  • Chrome Vanadium has a similar quality structure to chrome silicone and is ideal for high temperatures.

Why Choose Spring Dynamics for Your Spiral Counterbalance Springs?

Spring Dynamics specializes in making custom counterbalance springs to customer specifications. With our engineering and manufacturing aptitude, custom springs can be produced at almost the same time as stock springs. If you are unfamiliar with counterbalance springs, your product development team is welcome to work with our engineering group to identify whether a counterbalance spring will function and package for your application – in many cases providing advantages not previously considered.

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