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Category: Manufacturing

Types of Compression Springs

What is a Compression Spring

The main characteristic of compression springs is their open coil helical shape that is wound to oppose compression along their axis. They are the most common form of spring and are found in a wide assortment of applications. Although compression springs can work independently of other mechanisms, they are normally included as part of an assembly or construct.

Compression springs are made of steel, stainless steel, steel music wire, or spring steel. As the diameter of the wire increases, the springs become stronger and more durable, capable of withstanding more aggressive and forceful use.

Since compression springs are one of the most-used springs, they are available in a wide assortment of sizes and shapes as extensive as their different types.

Advantages of Compression Springs

Compression springs are wound with a constant diameter in various shapes, such as convex, conical, and concave forms. They store energy or resist compressive stress. Regardless of their shape and size, all compressive springs provide the same axial compressive force. This ability is due to their durability and strength and is why they are so widely used.  

Prevention of Motion

A major benefit of compressive springs is their ability to prevent the motion of another part or component. This aspect of their properties makes them ideal for controlling and connecting components.

Return

When compression is released from a compression spring, it returns to its initial position. This factor plays a role in their use with other components. As a compression spring returns, it repositions any part or component to which it is attached.

Maintenance-Free

In manufacturing operations, a constant concern is the monitoring of equipment and machinery, which need regularly-scheduled maintenance. This is not true for compression springs. They compress and release without the need for lubrication, maintenance, or monitoring.

Light Weight

One of the reasons for the popularity and general use of compression springs is their light weight and ease of use. Part of the formation of compression springs is the spiraling of steel wire. This form increases the hardness of the wire and gives it greater endurance than it would have as linear wire. Additionally, the metal of a compression spring is heated and cooled, which makes it possible to withstand the demands of heavy loads.

Stability

Of the many advantages of compression springs, their stability and strength is one of their most crucial benefits. While other types of springs may bend or buckle when deflected, compression springs avoid buckling due to their lateral stability.

Affordability

Compression springs are made of inexpensive materials and metals such as steel, which are easily accessible and reasonably priced. Less metal is required to produce compression springs, making them a highly-affordable solution for any application.

Different Types of Compression Springs

The term compression spring encompasses a wide array of different types of springs each of which is designed to meet the needs of a specific application. The range and types of compression springs come in different sizes, shapes, and configurations, factors that impact the amount of force and tension they can provide. The various forms of compression springs determine the power they contain and are able to deliver.

Concave Compression Springs

Concave compression springs have an hourglass shape with narrower coil windings in their middle than on either end. Their shape helps them remain centered over a point that has a large diameter. An added advantage of concave compression springs is their symmetrical shape.

Convex Compression Springs

Convex compression springs, also known as barrel springs, have a wider diameter in their middle and smaller diameters on both ends. When they are compressed, their coils fit within each other, which allows for a greater amount of deformation. Convex compression springs save space, eliminate buckling, and come in shapes and sizes to fit the needs of an application. They are used where stability and movement resistance are critical.

Conical Compression Springs

Conical compression springs are shaped like ice cream cones with a large diameter on one and a smaller diameter on the opposite end. The coils gradually taper as they move along the length of the spring. In some designs, the change between coil diameters is sufficient to allow the individual coils to fit inside each other. The stability of conical springs increases as their height decreases. Conical compression springs have superior compression strength due to their stability and are less likely to buckle or lose their balance when compressed.

Straight Coil Compression Springs

Straight coil compression springs are the most common form of compression spring. They are used in a wide assortment of mechanical and powered applications. Each coil of a straight compression spring has the same diameter regardless of the thickness of the wire. They have the shape of a tube or cylinder and come in varying diameters and lengths.

Volute Compression Springs

Volute compression springs have a cone shape that is similar to conical compression springs. The difference between them is the form of the materials used to make them. Volute compression springs, unlike other springs, do not use curled or swirled wire. Instead, they have curled sheets of metal or other material that gives the appearance of a tower or circular ramp.

Like conical and convex compression springs, the sheets of metal of a volute compression spring slide inside each other when the spring is compressed. When fully compressed, volute compression springs form a solid stable height.

Variable Pitch Compression Springs

Variable pitch compression springs have varied space between their coils. The pitch of a compression spring is the distance between the adjacent coils of wire, which are at different intervals in variable pitch compression springs. They have a non-linear load that minimizes resonant surging and vibrations. In some designs, the pitch in the middle of the spring is closer to reduce tangling.

The six springs listed above are a small sampling of the many types of compression springs that are available. Different varieties of these valuable tools are continually being developed and perfected to fit unique and innovative designs and applications.

Need help determining the right compression spring for your application? Contact us to discuss your needs with one of our experienced team members or call us at 616.453.5463.

Materials Used to Manufacture Compression Springs

The properties and characteristics of the materials used to produce compression springs determine their performance, how they are made, and their useful life. The most-common metal used to manufacture compression springs is steel with other metals used to meet environmental or manufacturing standards.

  • Brass – Brass wire has corrosion and water resistance but is expensive and used for specialized compression springs.
  • Stainless Steel – Stainless steel is regularly used to produce compression springs due to its corrosion and heat resistance.
  • Music Wire – Music wire is one of the best materials for the production of compression springs. It is cold drawn and has exceptional strength with a smooth clean finish.
  • Hard Drawn MB – Hard drawn MB has a high carbon content with an average level of stress tolerance at low cost.
  • Oil Tempered – Oil tempered compression wire is formed in a high-precision casting process. It has exceptional tensile strength, superior straightness, and is used for large diameter springs.
  • Carbon Steel – Carbon steel is one of the most common materials used to manufacture compression springs due to its superior strength, low cost, and availability.

The Benefits of Apex Spring and Stamping

Apex Spring and Stamping has been producing high-quality products for over 40 years and is recognized as a world leader in the production of high-quality springs. We provide solutions, services, and value to our customers through our exceptional customer service and highly-qualified technical staff.

The goal of Apex Spring and Stamping is to meet and exceed the needs of our customers. Our belief in sustainability and excellence is what has made us successful. 

Get the conversation started by Requesting A Quote or Contacting Us today to discuss your project with a member from our team.  We are ready to serve you.

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A Message of Tribute and Hope This Christmas

In Memory of Mom 

Charlotte 1940-2022

Having just lost Mom a few weeks ago after her courageous fight with breast cancer, I know that she would want me to use this Christmas message to accomplish three goals:

  • Save a life
  • Love your Family
  • Recognize the greatest gift from God

Our journey started exactly this time last year when I received the call from Mom’s neighbor that Mom was not well. For the first time in forever, we did not spend Thanksgiving with our Family in Manistee because co-vid was raging.  The fear of spreading the virus cost us a year of family time and memories together. As a result, I did not see Mom in person and moms sure can do a great job of hiding what is really going on.

Her Journey With Cancer

I immediately drove from Grand Rapids to Manistee only to find Mom in excruciating pain in her back and very weak. Words could never do justice for the amount of pain she was in. Through a snowstorm and unfortunately every bump in the road we got her to Grand Rapids. Fortunately the hospital admitted her as they were at full capacity with Co-vid patients taking every room possible. We were put in the hallway of a covid floor in the emergency department. They determined that Mom had cancer in her bones and a tumor in her back that was causing this horrible pain. The cancer was traced back to being metastatic hormone receptor+ breast cancer.  She had a very large lump and the cancer was stage 4. The doctors worked miracles and were able to perform a procedure that “fried” the tumor and then filled the void with epoxy. It was simply amazing!

The next stop was Mary Free Bed rehabilitation here in Grand Rapids. The staff was so kind and caring that Mom was able to graduate in early January pain free (other than Tylenol PM.) She wanted to go home to spend what time she had left with her friends in Manistee.  So, we found an assisted living home for her to move into.

We asked Mom if she had done annual mammograms and how did this cancer happen so fast.  Unfortunately, she had been told that after 75 years mammograms were optional. As a result, she decided not to have the testing done.

For the next 11 months Mom had to have infusions and treatments every 3 weeks at the Ludington Cancer Center which is 40 minutes south of Manistee.  These treatments basically would eliminate her estrogen and progesterone, because those hormones were feeding the cancer. We understood that this would only buy time as there is no cure for stage 4 breast cancer.

I would drive to Manistee from Grand Rapids then to Ludington and wait for the 3 hour treatment and then take her back to Manistee then back to Grand Rapids. On these days, I would work early before I left, at the Cancer Facility while I waited and then again in the evening when I got back to Apex.  All of this was without hesitation for Mom.  But, I remember when I thought to myself, how can I make it through this day. Then Mom put everything in prospective. During these trips we had such great time just talking and spending time together.  One day she looked at me and said “Dennis there is one good thing about this cancer”. I asked her what in the world are are you talking about and she looked at me and said “I get to see my son more often.”

We continued with the treatments and her neighbors were so helpful in taking her to local appointments and sometimes even to Ludington.

Mom had 11 great months that she was able to spend with her family and friends, and by some miracle, she spent it all pain free. She died peacefully on November 9th.  And by God’s grace, the pain she was so scared that would come back, never did.

Life, Love, and The Greatest Gift

So this message is for you Mom, and we know we can make it count and make a difference. If we accomplish just one of the following it was worth the journey you had.

Save a life – Mom stopped getting Mammograms. Please for all the women do not stop this yearly task no matter what age you are. Breast Cancer with early detection is one of the most curable cancers! As a matter of fact, many people because of co-vid stopped doing their annual tests for so many health needs. Please get back on track as prevention or early detection is the difference between life and death.

Love your Family – The holiday season is the greatest time to spend time with your Family. We never know what God’s plan is for us and we should recognize how precious our time is and how much love we have for each other. I know that we will miss Mom so much this Christmas.  I encourage you to take this Christmas to spend time with your family, and make lasting memories.

Recognize the gift – Most importantly, I hope you know that God gave us the greatest gift of all time. It is not something you earn. It is not a right. It is simply a free gift from Him!  God gave his only Son to die for us.  Jesus Christ is our Savior.  All we have to do is BELIEVE.

The Apex team wishes everyone a Merry Christmas! Make it the best one ever!

Dennis K. Bhaskaran – CEO

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New Press Means New Capabilities

Introducing Our Newest Press

Our team makes every effort to continue to adapt to meet the needs of our customers.  That’s what commitment and strong relationships look like.  A recent area of growth is in our press department.  Added to our team is a brand new 250 ton press (made by AIDI). We’re pretty excited about this new addition and we thought you might be too.

How This Changes Things

Earlier this year, our team recognized the need and opportunity to expand our metal stamping capabilities with bigger press. So, once we decided on the machine and where it would be located, we started demolition on the plant floor.  It was necessary to pour a new 18” concrete slab to support it’s weight.  After all, it weighs approximately 72,000 lbs.  It also features a 106” bolster.  That’s almost double the size of our bolster on the next largest press.  Obviously this larger bed allows us to take on larger more complex parts that require larger dies with more stations.  Additionally, this means more capabilities and efficiencies.  

We Are Here to Help

We’d love to share more with you about our new capabilities and how the new press changes things for us and our customers.  Projects we may not have been able to do in the past, are now possible.  Therefore, whatever you have coming up in the future, we’d love to help.  Get the conversation started by Requesting A Quote or Contacting Us today. 

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FAQ’s About Selecting Material

The Apex Approach to Selecting Material

Our team understands the importance of selecting the right material for a project.  It can have a huge impact on success.  Therefore we take necessary steps to ensure we source properly for each project we work on.  The following are several of the most frequently asked questions related to selecting material for your project.

How do we begin the selection process?

First, in order to determine the most relevant material for the application, we ask a variety of questions, including the following:

  • What is the operating temperature for the product?
  • Will the component have cyclical stress or static Loading?
  • What type of environment will the product be exposed to in its normal conditions?
  • How long do you expect the product to last?

All of these questions are very important. But in addition to these, we must consider the current 2022 market conditions because it has led to one of the most important questions.  Is the material available for purchase?  Because of worldwide shortages caused by Geo-Political upheaval, some material is not readily available.  Furthermore, finding “Like” material is difficult.  Because products are designed in different areas of the world, specifications are different.  For example, material from the Pacific Rim might be completely different from a European product design. Therefore we understand the importance of cross-referencing “like” materials.  It can be tricky and sometimes downright dangerous in certain applications.  You can be assured that our team has the necessary experience, and dedication, to successfully consider all factors and find the right material for the application. 

What are the consequences making the wrong selection?

Product failure is the most catastrophic result of sourcing material failure.  But most of the time, testing of the finished product will weed out any bad selections.

Cost overruns is the next risk of not sourcing the right material.  Apex for a long period of time did not index its material purchased and had a tough time of it with the material run-up in 2021 and 2022.  We now index our materials and have gotten customers to buy into the process.  If you are not indexing the material, free fall will make it almost impossible to provide a competitive price, or stay in business long.

Inability to find the material is another risk.  Today, longer lead times are not uncommon.  For example, 24 to 48 weeks might be the lead time just to get the material.  But it is nearly impossible for a supplier to plan out that long for demand on projects.  Therefore alternatives need to be investigated and confirmed to prevent this from happening.

Our team considers all these factors and works hard to prevent any negative consequences.

When is the right time to make decisions about the material?

Planning for the material selection should be done upfront in the design stages.  Also, consulting with us is one of the most important decisions any customer can make.  

We recognize that this makes it difficult for the supply chain that wants to competitively bid out the product to multiple suppliers.  Apex has always been committed to making our pricing the most competitive. But, upfront consulting is hard to do when the product has not been awarded to a supplier.  Our customers trust us and know that the Engineering consultation will pay dividends in the long run with a strong partnership.  For example, we have developed long and strong relationships with many of our spring customers.

A good design and material selection means you have a much better chance of getting on-time deliveries with great quality, at a competitive price.  This is done with us involved up front in the design process, through prototyping, and other tools into production. 

The Apex Commitment

We have always had the attitude that we are here to partner with our customers, and serve them in any way we can.  This includes selecting the right material for every project.  Call anyone at our company, and they will go out of their way to help you, even though it might not be their department or responsibility.  This is a top-down attitude that has made the culture at Apex a great place to work.  We are passionate about springs, stampings, wire forms, and assembly, and that is our expertise.  Why not let us help you with your program or problem?  As usual, the first question we always ask is, “How can we help?”

Contact us or request a quote today to get the conversation started! 

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A Guide to Prototyping at Apex

Why Prototype?

A prototype provides specifications for a real, working system rather than a theoretical one. By definition, a prototype is an early sample, model, or pre-release of a product built to test a concept or process. So, why is it valuable?  Well, developing pre-production parts serves as proof of concept.  It also makes sure a part is feasible to manufacture and feasible to produce.  A well-thought design will fit the category of these things:

  • Cost Effective Manufacturing Process
  • Ease of assembly
  • Ease of Tooling
  • Reduction in Tooling changes and costs to change hard tooling
  • Reduction in scrap by optimization of blank or material

Who Should Prototype & Where To Go?

Many OEM companies go to prototype shops to help develop a part for their products. Unfortunately, many of those shops have no interest in whether or not the part is feasible to manufacture (DFM = design for manufacturing).  They have no concept or experience in developing a production process. So, they make the parts as is, and you are stuck with the development that is not manufacturable.  This is why it is wise to use a production house, like Apex Spring and Stamping.  Our strong development team provides engineering services to develop a cost-effective sample that is easy to manufacture.

When to Prototype

The best time to do prototypes is when you are in the design and development stage of any project.  Often, the spring product is overlooked.  We may need to fit the overstressed part into a tight space, and if not properly developed, we are typically set up for design failure.  Doing a prototype can avoid this failure. 

NOTE: The most important thing to ask a spring designer:  How much space do you need to make this design a success?

A Story of Prototype Success

Apex is always pleased when prototyping leads to success for our customers.  A great example is a story about one of our customers who was developing a consumer product.  They came to us with the complex stamped metal part.  They invited us into the development stage, and we worked for 6 months to develop a cap and base for a personal hygiene product.  Early development resulted in a reduction in tooling changes and the feasibility of forming the correct material for the correct application.  

The following describes many of the elements that contributed to the development of this unique consumer product.  

Material Selection

The material selection was critical for this product.  A stainless steel was selected based on its ability to polish, and keep from rusting in a very tough environment.  This was a consumer product that was exposed to harsh chemicals and moisture with a high susceptibility to rust in a bathroom environment.  Also, this product needs to be portable in backpacks, purses, or utility bags.

Initial Scanning and 3d Printing in Plastic

This was critical to development. We took three dimensional CAD Data and made it into a touch-and-feel product. Shown above are…

  • 3d printed part for touch and feel samples
  • Draw Tooling sample before cut-off development on the lip.
  • Tumbling example for cut-off development
    Polishing example for mirror finish

Forming Simulation and Tooling Design

Image from Simulator Software to Prepare for Manufacturing

When the final material was selected, the biggest question was: can we draw a 300-400 series stainless steel to the depth needed for the design of this product?

To answer this question, the thinning and thickness of steel were simulated in software that Apex has access to in their tool room. Apex can simulate how the metal will flow very accurately before an actual part is ever manufactured. This simulation also helped with the development of the prototype tooling. Shown below is an image from the simulation software.

Development from the forming simulation was critical for the production and cost of the part. Simulations help with making the best of the strip utilization, for costing.

Special Cut-Off Development

Also for this product, the cut-off burr was not acceptable. It required there be no sharp edges. Therefore, the development of the cut-off was critical to the success of the product.

The four areas that were attacked were the:

  1. Cut-Off Process
  2. The Tumbling Process
  3. The Coating Process
  4. The Polishing Process

This all helped with the final edge of the part.

Finish

Also critical to the functionality and look of the product was powder coating and masking.
When used the cap and base mated with plastic internal parts. So, the sizing (with the coating) is important. The required size was determined by the force a user would require in order to open and close the product. Therefore, special consideration was used for the process and tolerance stack up for the final product success.

Polishing & The Finished Product

The bottom of the unit was a separate draw form and the dimensional and finish were also critical for the product. Therefore, we developed some polishing systems to make the stainless steel very highly polished. It was also a reusable option for reducing the amount of plastic in landfills.

This is an image of the finished product. Our team and the customer were very pleased with it. It exceeded expectations in quality and was delivered on time. And, prototyping was a critical step in the journey to success for this customer and this product. What projects are you working on right now that could benefit from a prototype? Contact us or Request a Quote today!

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Superior Engineering Solutions at Apex

Experienced Sales and Engineering Team Provides Exceptional Solutions

Since 1977, the Apex Spring and Stamping team has worked hard to solve customers’ challenges, including challenges in engineering.  It takes an entire company effort to provide the final product, be on time and exceed expectations. But kicking off that process is our dedicated group of sales engineers and their team. Many of our customers depend on us to help design and engineer their products. This service is one of the things that sets us apart from our competitors. Our team is highly skilled, and truly excels in providing a valuable design to make products a success. 

Working with our Engineering Team

The goal of the sales and engineering team is to provide you with knowledge and solutions. Their job is to act as a consultant and partner.  They access your needs through listening, asking questions, and finally they provide recommendations. The team’s priority is to provide information to help you make the best decision for your project. Throughout the process they are dedicated to keeping you informed. This partnership is part of what makes Apex’s relationships strong and long lasting. 

Added Value

The following are several examples of the partnership experience our team provides. These are ways we put your needs first, deliver on our promises, and provide superior service and solutions.

Material Science

At times, our team will encourage you to consider alternative material.  We may recommend you go to a stronger wire for your spring requirement because we feel the chosen material might get over stressed. Our knowledge in material science says we have a duty and responsibility to inform you. We want the product to be a success.

On-time delivery

We are committed to delivering your product on time. This includes clear communication of needs and deadlines. Our ability to deliver is one of our competitive strengths.  It definitely separates us from our competition.  

Keeping You Informed and Following Up

Communication is key, and we are committed to keeping you informed.  We will contact you and confirm you received the CAD drawings.  We will ask about final quantities so we are able to quote accurately.  Also, during the process we may recognize an opportunity to save valuable time and money.  When this happens we’ll let you know.  For instance, it may be wise to consider having Apex assemble the final project that includes parts from Apex and from other vendors. Whatever the situation, we’ll stay connected and communicate regularly. 

Meet The Team

Leading Apex’s charge in providing exceptional service are three Apex sales engineers.  They take the time to listen to customer needs, and provide the right solution. The team also works together often to critically think, troubleshoot, brainstorm, and problem solve.  All together, a strong team, working to build solid relationships, and high quality products.  The following will introduce you to our key sales engineer team members.

Tom Little Sales Engineer

Heading up our sales engineering team is Tom Little. He is an Apex veteran of 36 years with extensive knowledge in the automotive, office and consumer product markets. His engineering career has been exclusively in the spring, stamping and wireform industry. He is a pillar in Apex’s reputation of helping customers find solutions to difficult engineering challenges. Many times Tom has turned the napkin drawings into the needed 3D cad models, and it’s just what the customer needed.

Another key member of the sales engineer team is Tom Walkons.  His engineering expertise has developed many solutions for our customers. He’s been an Apex team member for the past 10 years, and has built strong relationships with customers who rely on his expertise and knowledge.  He also has extensive knowledge in the automotive, EV auto, office and agricultural industries.

Tom Walkons Sales Engineer
TJ Tygeson Sales Engineer

Additionally, the next key member of the sales and engineering team, is TJ Tygesen. TJ has been with Apex for 7 years.  As a talented engineer he’s continued to gain vital knowledge and expertise in the automotive, medical and consumer product industries. TJ focuses on building strong relationships, finding the right solution, and keeping delivery, quality, and price, front and center.

Can Our Engineering Services Help You?

Whatever the challenge, whatever the need, the Apex sales and engineering team is ready to help you find the right solution.  We have an extensive supplier base to help with mating components, assembly, and problem solving.  We model in Solidworks as our native software, which can be imported back to your native CAD software.  Contact us today or Request A Quote to get the conversation started and learn more about how we can partner together to accomplish more!  How can we help? 

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Local Sourcing Benefits

On the other hand, organizations have the need for integrating in IT departments new technologies often using cloud services and other ways of direct access to the web. This pressure for IT departments to give…

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How We Focus On Manufacturing Quality at Apex

On the other hand, organizations have the need for integrating in IT departments new technologies often using cloud services and other ways of direct access to the web. This pressure for IT departments to give…

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Why Indexing Springs Matters

On the other hand, organizations have the need for integrating in IT departments new technologies often using cloud services and other ways of direct access to the web. This pressure for IT departments to give…

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Misconceptions About Springs: And The Envelope Please!

On the other hand, organizations have the need for integrating in IT departments new technologies often using cloud services and other ways of direct access to the web. This pressure for IT departments to give…

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31.5 Years Of No Lost Time To An Accident

On the other hand, organizations have the need for integrating in IT departments new technologies often using cloud services and other ways of direct access to the web. This pressure for IT departments to give…

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Staying Open During COVID-19: Our Commitment

On the other hand, organizations have the need for integrating in IT departments new technologies often using cloud services and other ways of direct access to the web. This pressure for IT departments to give…

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Minority In Michigan: The Story Of Apex

On the other hand, organizations have the need for integrating in IT departments new technologies often using cloud services and other ways of direct access to the web. This pressure for IT departments to give…

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Austempering “A Different Type of Heat”

On the other hand, organizations have the need for integrating in IT departments new technologies often using cloud services and other ways of direct access to the web. This pressure for IT departments to give…

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Stress Relief vs. Heat Treat

On the other hand, organizations have the need for integrating in IT departments new technologies often using cloud services and other ways of direct access to the web. This pressure for IT departments to give…

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