The worldwide demand for springs has grown at a slow rate
over the last 20 years, and it is not anticipated that this
situation will change signifi cantly in the next 20, so it is certain
that new springmakers will be required on every continent.
Fresh faced, young and enthusiastic people will be
recruited to our industry, and they will need a wide range of
skills if they are to be successful.
Competition from the East
is not going to diminish, whether
that be Eastern Asia or Eastern
Europe, but springmakers will still
be required and have a market in all
countries. Profit margins will continue
to be low, so entrepreneurial
skills will be vital.
However, a knowledge of all
aspects of spring materials and
design will be the bedrock on which
new personnel will help to keep this
Whoever the springmakers of the future are, training in
spring technology to a specialized level, above and beyond
their formal education, will be enormously advantageous,
whether they are managers, technical or production people.
The point of this Cautionary Tale is that new people are much
less likely to be successful if they don’t invest signifi cant time
and effort in learning about all aspects of spring technology.
The market for springs has become global but, as was
pointed out in Cautionary Tale XI, the materials available to
the spring industry the world over are similar. What is more,
the price of the raw materials does not vary much from country
to country. In addition, the machinery on which springs are manufactured is similar throughout the world. Hence, technical
training does not have to be market or location specific.
So, what training does the next springmaker need? Everyone’s
first instinct is to obtain training in spring design practices
and rules, and that was discussed to some extent in Cautionary
Tale XV. However, in order to design springs, one first has
to select a spring material, then
there needs to be a very thorough
appreciation of the benefi ts of each
spring manufacturing process, and
only then can spring design be
undertaken effi ciently. Even then,
a knowledge of the mechanisms
by which springs can fail and how
each of these mechanisms can be
prevented is very important.
Tomorrow’s springmakers must
have knowledge of the industry as
it has evolved today as well as the
technical or entrepreneurial skills to take the industry through
the next generation.
Training in spring material selection will provide information
about the relative merits of all candidate materials, and
their national and international supply specifications. It will
also give the first stage of metallurgy for the non-metallurgist,
thereby providing an understanding of terms such as “pearlite,”
“austemper,” “decarburization” and so on.
Training in spring manufacturing technology will provide
information and understanding of the underlying principles
behind residual stresses, heat treatment, prestressing and
With the knowledge gained from these studies, new
springmakers will be able to embark on the process of
designing low-weight, effi cient springs that are easy to make
by automated processes (this last factor being especially
important in the high-wage parts of the world). Furthermore,
before springmakers start to run too far with their newfound
spring design skills, they ought to be trained in spring failure
and prevention methods so as to avoid the mistakes of the last
IST’s philosophy regarding training to provide the skills
required by personnel new to this industry has been described
here, but it is also our experience that some people who have
been in the industry for some time would benefit from such training,
particularly those changing roles within a company.
Mark Hayes is the Senior Metallurgist
at the Institute of Spring Technology
(IST) in Sheffield, England. Hayes
manages IST’s spring failure analysis
service, and all metallurgical aspects of
advice given by the Institute. He also
gives the majority of the spring training
courses that IST offers globally.
Readers are encouraged to contact him
with comments about this Cautionary
Tale, and with suggested subjects for future installments,
by phone at (011) 44 114 252 7984 (direct dial), fax at (011)
44 114 2527997 or e-mail at Mark's Email.