The Difference between Compression and Tension Springs

The Difference between Compression and Tension Springs

To the average person in the street, tension springs are those coiled things that you may see in a broken chair or torn mattress.

They all look the same, from the smallest in a ballpoint to the largest in a sofa, but although they are similar in design, they are not the same.  Compression and tensions springs are in fact vastly different because they do different jobs.

Tension Springs

Tension springs are used in the manufacture of trampolines and may be found in garage doors among many other applications.  When the spring is tight it is resting and you can see this by looking at a closed garage door. When you open the door the force produces the tension by expanding the spring which contracts when you close it. Hence a tension spring holds components together.

For the general public most springs look alike, such as the tension and compression springs. However, they are designed to perform much different tasks. Their similarities exist in the design. Both are made up of a coil spring that is devised for elasticity and strength, but that is where their likeness ends. The main difference is that tension springs are meant to hold two things together while compression springs are designed to keep components from coming together. While they work in opposition with each other, they are both necessary for different products.

Compression Springs

In contrast, compressions springs are designed to keep components apart.  The resting position of a compression spring is the exact opposite of its tension counterpart. It is at rest when extended. These springs are commonly used in many more applications. The can be found in a pogo stick, watch, mattress, compressor and electrical switch to name just a few. Virtually every industry you can think of uses compression springs in one form or another.

Materials used in the manufacture of springs                       

Both types of spring can be manufactured from a diverse range of materials and the type you purchase will depend very much on the springs’ intended application. Factors to consider include risk of rust, the environment temperature and stress the spring will endure.

The materials from which springs can be made include:

  • Copper Alloy
  • Cold drawn steel
  • Stainless steel
  • Cold rolled steel
  • Various type of wire
  • Titanium alloy