Spring washers serve valuable purposes within an application and are available in many different forms. They provide deflection, shock absorption, locking mechanisms, serve to retain tension, and more. Considering all of these different functions, there is much to account for when choosing spring washers. The process is made much easier when you have a clear understanding of how these components vary.
Wave washers resemble conventional flat washers with curves or waves in their surface. One wave and three wave washers are among the most common types.
The subtle elevations and divots in these washers creates a flexible clearance that maintains tension, even when an assembly is placed in an application that’s subject to movement, tremor, or vibration.
If you place an ordinary flat washer on something like an office chair, stroller, or piece of equipment that vibrates when in use, that washer may gradually loosen and start to rattle. If tension isn’t maintained, a fastener assembly can fail.
Wave washers serve to maintain this tension, even when subjected to changes in pressure or load and movement. They can be stacked to enhance this effect. The number of waves within the washer also impact the level of flexible support they provide. A three wave washer will provide more deflection than a single wave washer, while a five wave washer will provide greater deflection than a three wave.
Belleville washers are capable of absorbing shock, deflecting force, and providing a spring-back function, which can be modified and enhanced through various stacking configurations. They can be easily identified by their conical shape and are sometimes referred to as conical washers or disc springs.
When stacked parallel or as a series, with opposite ends matched, belleville washers can support very large loads. They can also be used in locking or pressure triggering mechanisms. Belleville washers have been widely used in arms and artillery applications for detonation and triggering actions.
The vibration dampening potential of these washers is significant. They are common in mounts and equipment designed to dampen tremors in earthquake-prone areas. They are also used on high-performance sport and race cars.
Helical Spring/Split Lock Washers
Split lock washers or helical spring washers are usually thicker than standard flat washers. A split in their surface provides deflection, which is enhanced when the washer is formed in a coiled or helical structure.
These washers can be used to compensate for gaps or loss of tension between components and will provide a moderate vibration dampening effect.