OK, gas springs aren’t the most mind-blowing piece of equipment that man has ever invented – they won’t discover dark matter or turn base metals into gold, but they have become an integral and important part of everyday life.
Every time you open your car boot, for example, you’re taking advantage of gas springs; likewise, every time you adjust your swivel chair to just the right height, you’re using a gas spring to do it. These are just two of the more obvious applications of these widgets – they’re actually used in countless ways throughout industry and manufacturing and they come in all sorts of sizes and configurations.
How do gas springs work?
As just said, gas springs come in many different shapes and sizes to fit a huge variety of spaces and applications. The principles behind each type are exactly the same, however. These springs use nitrogen gas instead of a metal coil to produce their action. They are composed of a piston, a rod and a cylinder full of nitrogen gas, as well as a lubricant. As the rod is pushed into the cylinder of nitrogen, the gas becomes compressed, which is what produces the springiness and the smooth movement.
Why are they used?
Gas springs are useful because they help people to move or lift a load that would be too heavy under normal circumstances, like a fire door; or a load that needs to stay in place until shifted back into its original position, like a car boot door.
These springs are popular because they last for a very long time, as long as they’re looked after and used properly, so they are good value for money as well as practical.
How to look after them
Nitrogen is one of the safest gases we have, as it’s almost inert (it hardly reacts with other elements in its gaseous form) and actually makes up 78% of the air we breathe! However, you should always be careful when installing a gas spring, to make sure it works safely and efficiently for as long as possible. You need to remember that, as a gas, nitrogen will expand in very hot environments and contract in very cold conditions, which could affect the spring’s performance. Very hot conditions aren’t recommended for this sort of spring.
In order to keep your spring happy and working well, you should always install it with the rod pointing downwards, as this helps to keep it lubricated – minimising the risk of damage and preventing any leaks.
Of course all gas springs come to an end (sorry) eventually, so you need to make sure you dispose of yours safely – your supplier will probably be able to collect them and recycle them.
Are gas springs better than metal coils?
No, they’re not better than coil springs, they just offer a different action and work better in certain applications. Where space is very tight, for example, gas springs are better than coil springs, and they also last longer – coils can succumb to metal fatigue surprisingly quickly. If you have a space or an application where you believe a gas spring might work better for you, then it probably will!