Springs and similar parts are some of the most significant components for engineering, construction, manufacture, and countless other industries, playing huge roles in our day-to-day lives and offering an almost endless array of potential applications.
Gas springs, in particular, are famed for their versatility and usefulness, and this guide will go over some common questions and answers on gas springs to help you find out more about them and how they work.
What Are Gas Springs?
Gas springs are a type of spring that makes use of compressed gas to operate, rather than a typical elastic structure found in most other kinds of spring. They are classified as hydro-pneumatic, which means that they involve the use of both gas and liquid, and they’re used for raising or lowering heavy or difficult-to-move items more conveniently and with greater ease. They’re formed with a container of compressed gas inside an enclosed cylinder, sealed off with a piston. A liquid lubricant, usually made of some kind of oil, is also present in gas springs to help them support or oppose external forces.
Thanks to the presence of both gas and liquid, these types of springs offer smooth, seamless movement when used correctly, giving them a lot of versatility and many possible applications. Gas springs can also be referred to by other names. You may hear them called gas struts, dampers, or rams. There can be some differences in how these terms are applied and the products they refer to, but they’re generally used as interchangeable terms for gas springs. In terms of applications, there are many ways in which gas springs may be used. They’re commonly seen in doors and door hardware, but can be used in vehicles, chairs, tables, panels, and even handheld electronic devices too.
How Do Gas Springs Function?
Gas springs can have different modes and methods of working, depending on the specific type of gas spring you’re working with, but they generally rely on the same basic principle. To understand how gas springs work, we can think of a bicycle tire pump. The pump has a piston and rod system, with the rod and piston being used to pump air through a central tube or cylinder. Gas springs are similar, except the cylinder is sealed, not open, so the amount of gas on the inside always stays the same. Instead of pushing the gas out, the piston pushes the gas around the cylinder. The pressure inside the cylinder remains balanced, but two different pockets of gas are formed, each with its own size and volume. This is effectively what allows the spring to function in a similar way to a traditional spring, with the gas moving back and forth inside the cylinder as forces are applied or eased.
How Are Gas Springs Used?
As stated earlier, there are many possible applications for gas springs. Here a few examples of ways in which they are commonly used:
- Doors – Doors of different types and sizes often involve spring components, and many doors make use of gas struts or springs. The springs are often used to help the doors be opened easily when some external pressure is applied, but then revert to a closed state when they are no longer in use. Gas springs may also be used in doors that are required to remain open when opened until they are manually closed.
- Automotive – Gas springs are commonly used in the automotive industry, featuring in different car parts and sections. They can often be found in car hood and trunk opening mechanisms, for example, helping the car owner lift the hood and trunk with ease. Almost all hatchbacks and saloon cars have gas springs featured in the trunks, making it simple and convenient to live the heavy metal panel to access the storage area.
- Chairs – Gas springs may also commonly be found in certain types of chairs, including office chairs. They’re used in the mechanisms for raising or lowering the chair, providing the necessary resistance to allow the user to adjust their seating position comfortably and gradually, as well as allowing the chair to be adjusted and stopped at different adjustable heights, according to the height and comfort of the user.
It’s clear to see that even though gas springs may seem to be quite small and simple components on the outside, they actually have many big real-world uses. Hopefully, this guide has helped you understand more about how they work.