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Spring Materials: Stainless Steel

Feb. 04, 2024
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As experienced spring manufacturers, there are many different factors that we must take into account to ensure that our spring materials are suitable for each product.

One of these considerations is the material they’re made from. When we manufacture our high-quality springs, we regularly work with a range of metals and alloys, including stainless steel.

So what is Stainless Steel, and why is it so often used to create springs and wire forms? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at exactly what defines stainless steel, what it can be used for, why it is so popular, and the different types available.

What is Stainless Steel?

Stainless steel is the name given to various steel types and grades frequently used for corrosion-resistant applications.

The metals are iron alloys and contain a minimum of 10.5% chromium. They can also contain nickel, titanium, copper and other materials, which improve their structure and strength.

To be classed as stainless steel, the metal must be corrosion resistant to a certain level.

What are Some of the Properties of Stainless Steel?

Stainless steel is perfect for use in a huge number of applications thanks to the many properties within the metal, including:

  • High corrosion resistance
  • High heat resistance
  • Low electrical conductivity
  • High resistance to acids
  • High tensile strength

These features make stainless steel hard-wearing and durable. They also give the metal aesthetic appeal, hygienic properties and ease of fabrication.

In particular, stainless steel is low maintenance and easy to cut, weld, form and fabricate. The cleanability of the metal makes it advantageous for use in hospitals, catering, and pharmaceutical processing facilities.

What is Stainless Steel Used for?

This metal is particularly corrosion resistant and can be subjected to high and low temperatures, which means it is a popular choice for food applications, such as cutlery. This is due to the fact that it does not rust like ordinary steel, so it is safe and hygienic.

Stainless steel is often used in architecture and can be seen in the iconic point of the Chrysler Building in New York and the Sibelius Monument in Helsinki. The cold work hardening properties within the metal can reduce the weight and thickness of designs, making it desirable to work with. It is also a low maintenance material which makes it suitable for buildings and applications that are hard to clean or maintain.

The metal has many medical applications across the healthcare sector due to its hygienic properties and ability to resist corrosion. Many medical tools and instruments are made from stainless steel as well as surgical and dental implants. Rolling carts, clamp scissors, medical ID tags and grab rails are just a few examples of the many medical applications for this robust material.

Why is Stainless Steel Used for Springs?

Stainless steel is a popular material for use in springs. This is largely due to the corrosion and heat resistance present in the metal. The material is hard-wearing and long-lasting, making it the ideal option for many applications.

Our high-quality springs are formed using a wire that has been tempered and hardened for durability and strength.

You can find varying levels of elasticity, heat resistance and other essential properties in different stainless steels, so this is a material that can serve a vast range of requirements.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the variety of materials we use, why not take a look at our recent blog, which looks at What Makes Copper Such a Key Material in Spring Manufacturing?

What are the Types of Stainless Steel?

There are a number of different types of stainless steel, each with different properties. These are typically separated into five types:

Austenitic Stainless Steel

Austenitic is regularly used across many industries due to its high chromium content, which gives it an exceptionally high resistance to corrosion compared to other stainless steel. Many austenitic alloys are in fact, non-magnetic but can become so after cold working.

Ferritic Stainless Steel

Ferritic is one of the most common types of stainless steel. It has magnetic properties and can be hardened through the cold working process. Due to its reduced nickel content, ferritic stainless steel is a cost-effective solution.

Martensitic Stainless Steel

Martensitic is one of the less common forms of stainless steel. It has a high level of hardness, though the corrosion resistance is slightly lower than that of ferritic or austenitic alloys. Martensitic stainless steel is often applied to applications that require intense impact resistance or high tensile strength.

Duplex Stainless Steel

Duplex is formed from the grains of austenitic and ferritic stainless steel. As it is in the name, Duplex refers to the two-phase microstructure of the metal. Duplex stainless steel is suitable for tough applications due to its impressive strength and resistance to corrosion.

Precipitation Hardening Stainless Steel

Precipitation hardening, often called ‘age hardening’ is a kind of heat treatment. Its primary function is to convey strength to metals and their alloys. The hardening process can strengthen steel and aluminium in many applications, such as aeroplanes and bicycle frames.

Here at Airedale Springs, we often work with stainless steel, along with a comprehensive range of other materials, depending on the requirements of any particular project.

Make sure to look at our materials page to find out more about our springs and read our blog about choosing the right materials for springs.

Stainless Steel Springs Ideal for Corrosion Resistance

Stainless steel springs are a great choice for applications that require corrosion resistance or for higher temperature environments. Stainless steel springs are available in stock and ready to ship, or custom made to your specifications. Lee Spring has thousands of stock stainless steel compression, stainless steel extension, stainless steel torsion, stainless steel belleville and specialty stainless steel springs available from our large inventory ready for same day shipping and immediate delivery. Lee Spring’s stock and custom stainless steel springs are used in a wide variety of industries such as:

  • Medical devices

  • Pharmaceutical delivery devices

  • Petro-chemical processes

  • Aerospace

  • Marine industries

  • Locks and security devices

  • Hardware

  • Firearms

  • Lighting and electrical controls

  • Communication devices

  • Testing and measurement

  • Automotive

  • Computer components

  • Precision Instruments

  • Electronic devices

  • Small pumps and small valves

Need a custom designed stainless steel spring? Lee Spring can engineer and manufacture stainless compression springs, stainless extension springs, and stainless torsion springs in small or large quantities, no minimums.

Stainless Steel Materials Used in Spring Manufacturing

There are four common grades of stainless steel used in spring manufacturing. Depending on the application, a Lee Spring engineer can assist you in selecting the correct material for your application. Some areas to consider when selecting the right material are corrosive properties that interact with the spring and temperature in and around the application.

Stainless Steel 302
General purpose corrosion and heat resistant spring wire. Slightly magnetic.
ASTM A313
Maximum Operating Temperature: 550° F (288° C)

Stainless Steel 304
General purpose corrosion and heat resistant spring wire. Slightly magnetic. Type 304 has less carbon than Type 302, however considered commercially equivalent for stock springs.
ASTM A313
Maximum Operating Temperature: 550° F (288° C)

Stainless Steel 316
General heat resistant spring wire and better corrosion resistance than Type 302/204. Slightly magnetic. Often used in marine applications, resists chloride attack.
ASTM A313
Maximum Operating Temperature: 550° F (288° C)

Stainless Steel 17-7 PH
Improved strength over 300 Series stainless steels with similar heat and corrosion resistance. Slightly magnetic. Material is precipitation hardened after spring fabrication to achieve desired properties.
AMS 5678
Maximum Operating Temperature: 650° F (343° C)

To learn more about all of the various spring materials commonly used for springs, visit our Spring Materials page. 

Stock Stainless Steel Springs Available for Immediate Delivery

Lee Spring offers many stock series springs in various spring types made with stainless steel materials. There are stock springs offerings in stainless steel 302, stainless steel 316, 17-7PH, 300 series and 302 DFARS. Stock stainless steel springs are available from inventory and available for immediate delivery. Lee Spring stock stainless steel springs include a passivated finish for additional corrosion resistance at no additional cost. In addition, Lee Spring offers stainless steel spring kits with an assortment of springs in various sizes. We offer free standard ground shipping on qualifying stock spring orders, free passivation, expert engineering assistance, live customer support service and much more.

Lee Spring stock springs are offered in Stainless Steel materials include:
Compression Springs
     Instrument Series
     Lite Pressure™ Series
     Standard Series
     Heavy Duty Series
     High Pressure Series
     REDUX™ Wave Series
     DIN-Plus Series
     Mil Spec MS-24585 Series
Extension Springs
     Instrument Series
     Standard Series
     Mil Spec MS-24586 Series
Torsion Springs
Belleville Washers
Constant Force Springs
Continuous Length Extension Springs

Custom Stainless Steel Springs Made to Your Specification

Lee Spring can manufacture custom stainless steel springs to meet your specifications for all your projects. We offer engineering support from design through production, extensive stainless steel and other material and finish options and global manufacturing and distribution. In addition, we can support your project with CAD assisted product design, governmental and industrial regulatory expertise and prototypes through large production runs. Lee Spring offers advanced capabilities and a wide variety of options for your micro spring manufacturing needs such as; advance quality control systems, regulatory expertise including RoHS, REACH and DFARS, CAD assisted product design, in-house prototype production services and global supply chain network. Simply request a quote today or contact a Lee Spring Engineer for design assistance or to answer any questions to help start your custom spring project.

Spring Materials: Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel Springs

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